Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Arabian Nights come to life in Morocco

Leading British theatre director, Tim Supple, is in Morocco searching for local talent to star in his Arabian Nights production to open in Toronto next year.

Tim (above) is well known as the creator of an Indian A Midsummer Night's Dream some four years ago. Now his project is to create a new version of The Arabian Nights. He is currently travelling through North Africa, the Middle East and to Iran, searching for just the right cast for the production. He's looking for all types of performers - actors, musicians, singers, dancers, acrobats, storytellers - to bring them all together for the production.

The Arabian Nights are the 1,000-year-old folk tales told by Sheherazade which most westerners wrongly associate with characters such as Ali Baba, Sinbad and Aladdin – it is doubtful that any of these three were part of the original collection. Supple wants to try to discover the lost truths of the stories and is working with the Lebanese novelist Hanan al Shaykh who spent last summer reading all 1,001 stories in their original Arabic.

"We are trying to create a theatrical version of The Arabian Nights which will do justice to the scale, depth and richness of the stories," said Supple.

Supple is embarking on his Arabian Nights journey after the worldwide success of A Midsummer Night's Dream which began life as a British Council funded project in India and became a much-praised production that went to Stratford and then the Roundhouse in London, and the US, Australia and Canada.

The director hopes to begin rehearsals this year. He anticipates it being performed in Arabic, English and Hindi, and says it could be anything from a two-hour production to an eight-hour epic.

The London-based Dash Arts project is being funded entirely by the still young Luminato festival in Toronto, where the production is due to premiere in June 2011. The production will then go to the UK in the autumn as part of a Dash Arts Arabic series, with the venue still to be arranged.

Tim will make a flying visit to Fez tomorrow, Monday 1 March. He'll be at Cafe Clock from 18h00, watching a showcase of traditional and contemporary music. The Clock has lined up Jilaliyat, Issawa, Rai, Hip-hop, Amdah Soufia, dance and Jilala. The event is free and all are welcome.

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