Artistic Directors, Mary C. Huntington and Debra Wise, discuss Arabian Nights (2013)

Debra WiseMary C. HuntingtonThis award-winning co production of The Nora Theatre Company and Underground Railway Theater has become something of a tradition, and we are delighted you are here to experience it. In our wonderful ensemble of actors you will encounter some familiar faces as well as some new cast members joining us this year.

Arabian Nights is a play that speaks to both our missions and fits well in the holiday season.  Underground Railway Theater has always included puppetry in its palette, and highly values visual beauty in the theater, especially when the “hand of the artist” is present and felt.  We are honored to work with URT long-time designer David Fichter and master puppeteer Will Cabell on this production.  (And we thank the small army of artists who volunteered their time.)

The Nora has made it a core part of its mission to promote and champion the feminine voice.  In the character of Shahrazad, the storyteller, we have a young woman of intelligence and insight.  She knows that the power of love, not revenge, will heal the King, and she courageously uses that knowledge to restore the King to his authentic self and the community to a place of joy and prosperity.

With this year’s production we also welcome back our ever-inventive choreographer Judith Chaffee and the remarkable designers who have created the magical world of Arabian Nights, and our director, Daniel Gidron, whose inventive staging earned him an IRNE award for his visionary work on this show.  We are very thankful to have him at the helm once again.

At its heart, Arabian Nights, comprising stories originating from many parts of the world and dating as far back as the 8th century, reminds us that storytelling is a universal human experience and that stories – from the sublime to the ridiculous – can enlighten and heal.  In 1996, Nobel laureate Alice Munro said, “A story is not like a road to follow…it’s more like a house.  You go inside…wandering back and forth…discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows.  And you…are altered as well…You can go back again and again, and the house, the story, always contains more than you saw the last time.”

Thank you for being part of the storytelling, and, as Shahrazad would say, “Listen…!”