The Arabian Nights: A Play // at the Red Door Play Festival

On Saturday, November 15, 2014, I watched a play entitled “The Arabian Nights” during the annual Red Door Play Festival. Having previously heard that the play had “nothing to do with The Nights,” I tried to keep an open mind. The play started with extremely orientalized music, which irked me; this was probably due to the lengthy discussions we had in class about the concept of Orientalism. Regardless, the plot of the play consisted of the initial meeting between a wealthy, travelling man and a young woman who runs her family’s shop, presumably somewhere in “the Orient.” Their awkward eye contact and casual brushings hinted at a potential romance, and a third (female) character personified the obvious (and quite amusing) subtext of the encounter. After every line spoken by either of the two leads, she would inject a “translation” of what the line actually meant (in more direct terms). For example, when the woman asked if the man was buying a souvenir for himself or for another person, the subtext character said something along the lines of “Are ya single?” Her lines also included calling the man Sinbad and the woman a princess, an obvious reference to the title of the play. Also, she spoke in a flowery manner, somewhat copying the style of The Nights. The repeated translations of “well” and “I” to “a hole in the ground” and “the organ of sight,” respectively, were amusing at first but got old quickly.

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