Arabian Nights by Adam Forde and David Perkins
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Written originally for, and performed by, the
Yvonne Arnaud Youth Theatre, Guildford in July 2005
David Perkins - the same composer that wrote
'Shake Ripple and Roll' and 'The Selfish Giant'

King Sharyar in 'Arabian Nights'The show opens with a brief Prologue as the Vizier's daughter Sheherazade tells her younger sister Dinarzade, a bed-time story on the eve of King Shahryar's wedding. All the population celebrates The King's Wedding. Everyone is happy and secure until the King discovers he has been betrayed by his wife and has her and her lover executed. He vows he will never again let a woman take advantage of him and announces he will marry a new wife each day and have her executed the following morning. After Many Weddings, Sheherazade volunteers to marry the King and bring an end to the deaths.Sheherezade in 'Arabian Nights'

Sheherazade persuades her distraught father to arrange the marriage and explains to Dinarzade how she plans to save her own and the kingdom's other women's lives - by telling stories. Sheherazade's Wedding is a more sombre affair with everyone in the kingdom expecting her to become yet another victim. The King and Sheherazade process to his chamber for her wedding night.

On The First Morning after the wedding, Sheherazade persuades her husband to allow her to tell Dinarzade a final story, he decides to listen as well. She launches into the story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (Part One). The story comes to life and the King becomes wrapped up in the fortunes of Ali Baba, his brother and the thieves but is angered Later the First Morning when Sheherazade stops half way through the story saying it is time for her execution.The Forty Theives  in 'Arabian Nights'

With nobody able to tell him the end of the story, Shahryar decides to let his wife live another day so that she can finish the story later that night. Her strategy has worked. Later that day Sheherazade tells the story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (Part Two) and speaks through the night until The Next Morning when it is time for the Swordsman to do his work.

Asked by Dinarzade if she is afraid of dying, Sheherazade replies saying she is no more afraid than the fisherman who found a genie in a bottle in one of their favourite stories. The King demands to hear the story and announces that his wife will remain alive another day in order to tell it. She tells the story of The Fisherman and the Genie, delighting the King. After the story Sheherazade Sleeps and the Citizens show their concern for her future, while the King decides that he will not let the situation continue. The act ends with Shahryar telling the sleeping Sheherazade that it is time to end her life.

In Act Two, King Shahryar explains to the Vizier that he has become fond of Sheherazade but is afraid her love for him will go the same way as his first wife. Because of that, the King has decided she must die. And so Sheherazade Faces Execution. As she walks towards her fate, she reminds her sister of another story which at the last moment the King demands to hear. Sheherazade is reprieved once more. Needless to say everybody except the Swordsman is delighted. Later that day Sheherazade tells the story of The Ass and His Ass. At the end of the story an amused King talks of future stories but adds a reminder that he is still in control of his wife's destiny.

The Citizens explain how the stories continue for more than a year. On one night, Sheherazade and Dinarzade tell him the story of The Little Beggar and hint that the next story will be that of Sinbad the Sailor. The King looks forward to Sinbad; his feelings for Sheherazade have grown to love.

Sheherazade has been telling stories to her husband for 1000 nights. Her execution is barely mentioned. On the 1001st night she tells the King she has run dry of stories and reminds him of his vow that the end of the stories would mean the end of her life. He is distraught until she says she has one more story but that she does not know the end of it. He insists she tell the story and so she begins Sheherazade's Story. It soon becomes clear she is telling him his own history as she talks of how a young girl loved the King despite his becoming a tyrant, killing wives day after day. He angrily interrupts but she tells him it is her own story and continues until she reveals that she is expecting the King's child. King Shahryar is delighted, proclaims that the death sentence upon his wife is lifted and, in the Finale, they sing of their love for each other and are joined by the Citizens who sing the main theme, Arabian Nights.


Cast Total (18m, 9f, 11m/f)
Principals (2m, 2f)
  Sheherazade : (f) Beautiful and wise beyond her years. She is a renowned story-teller and is very resourceful, thinking on her feet in the most dangerous of moments. Despite his reputation, she has always loved the King, a love that grows as the show goes on. She is dutiful towards her father and adores her sister. She is as comfortable in a playful moment as she is in the times when serious formality is required.
  Dinarzade : (f) Sheherazade's younger, innocent and devoted sister. Very trusting and plays her part in the initial deception of the King.
  The Vizier : (m) Father to Sheherazade and Dinarzade as well as the King s chief adviser. Wise and extremely formal but adores his daughters and is very protective. Once the King has married Sheherazade, the Vizier is constantly on edge and expects his daughter to be killed. Lives with the conflict between his love for his family and duty to the King.
  King Shahryar : (m) At the start of the show he is as happy as anyone could be but soon he is dreadfully hurt and his trust in women disappears. He is seen by most as being a brutal and ruthless tyrant with no sense of mercy. There is, however, always a sense that the King we saw at the beginning is still there struggling to get out. He has a dry sense of humour. His relationship with Sheherazade grows subtly as time goes by and their exchanges become warmer until he is able to shake off his brutality and return to his true self.
The Betrayal (2m, 3f)
  First Queen : (f) Unfaithful to the King
  Masoud : (m) A slave.
  Swordsman : (m)
  Second Wife : (f)
  Third Wife : (f)
Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (3m, 2f, 4m/f)
  Ali Baba : (m) A cheerful and honest, but at the same time opportunistic, woodcutter. He is a good and generous man and loves his wife despite her shrewishness.
  Raiyah : (f) Ali Baba's wife. Ever so slightly greedy. She loves her husband but does not hesitate to nag him. She is not certain she trusts Morgiana and is competitive; Morgiana is, after all, very pretty.
  Chief Thief : (m) Larger than life and deliciously evil. Would not think twice about slicing off a head for the merest of slights. Should be very tall or very short (if short he should have a bit of a complex). A classic villain.
  Dim Thief : (m/f)
  Little Thief : (m/f)
  Tiny Thief : (m/f)
  Kasim Baba : (m) Ali Baba's brother and a bully. Already wealthy, he is greedy for more and it is this greed that leads to his come-uppance.
  Morgiana : (f) Beautiful and clever. She is a loyal servant to Ali Baba and saves his life thanks to her quick thinking. (Needs a talented singer and dancer).
  Cobbler : (m/f) Money-grabbing and boastful. It is his loose tongue and small-trader greed that leads Chief Thief to Ali Baba.
  Forty Thieves : Any number, either sex
The Fisherman and The Genie (2m)
  Fisherman : (m) Poor and slightly sorry for himself. Witty and quick.
  Genie : (m) Classic big tough statuesque hunk of a genie. Gullible.
The Ass and His Ass (2m, 2m/f)
  Stupid Farmer : (m) Almost a Simple Simon character. Very easily conned because of his stupidity and good nature. Never realises he’s been had, indeed believes he’s avoided being taken for a ride.
  Robber 1 : (m) Smart and sly and thinks quickly on his feet. Bit of a ‘geezer’ and uses a chirpy cheery personality to con the Farmer.
  Robber 2 : (m/f) Not as clever as the other Robber and does what he’s told - he does the ‘donkey’ work!
  Donkey : (m/f)
The Little Beggar (4m, 2f, 3m/f)
  Little Beggar : (m) Small and cheerful despite his poverty. Needs to be physically supple in order to be flung about during the story.
  Tailor : (m) Wealthy member of the community, bit of a snob and a social climber. Quite prepared to dump the Beggar to avoid getting into trouble. Confesses in the end.
  Tailor's Wife : (f) Similar to the Tailor. A merry hostess, full of laughs, until the Beggar appears to have choked on her fish.
  Doctor's Servant : (f) Kindly to others but shrewish to her master. Very keen to avoid blame for the Beggar’s apparent death.
  Doctor : (m/f) Bit of a silly-ass. Dedicated but probably not a very good doctor but swift to take action to avoid paying blood money when it appears he/she is responsible for the Beggar’s death. His/her better nature surfaces when he confesses.
  Cook : (m/f) A rough and ready character, not a pristine chef at all. Prepared to commit violence to protect his/her food but falls apart when he/she thinks the Beggar is dead. Recovers to hide the body to avoid blame.
  Slave Hassid : (m) Lowest of the low with a chip on his shoulder. Although very drunk when he ‘kills’ the Beggar, this should not be over the top drunk acting.
  Judge : (m/f) ‘Fraitfullay’ posh and slightly short-tempered authority figure. Should be played by a smaller person. Relishes passing the death sentence.
  Guard : (m)
Sinbad The Sailor (3m, 2m/f)
  Sinbad (the Porter) : (m) A humble but resentful courier who bemoans his fate - his station in life is ‘all the fault of others’. Gradually, however, as Old Sinbad tells his tale, Porter Sinbad changes to a happy-go-lucky, glad-to-be-alive character.
  Old Sinbad : (m) Kindly, but lonely, and very old version, of the famous young sailor/adventurer. He is delighted to find someone to tell his stories to. Uses his adventures as a moral for the Porter to understand that his life could be worse.
  Young Sinbad : (m) Resourceful and hardy traveller. He begins as a spoilt rich young man who has wasted his fortune but, through his travels and travails, he regains his wealth, learns to realise its value and becomes a generous benefactor.
  Servant : (m/f)
  Captain : (m/f)
  Crew : Any number, either sex
  Hunters : Any number, either sex
Chorus
 

Flexible; any size, any sex, all ages.

These are the Citizens and a host of other characters (viz Guards, Thieves, The Cave, Market Traders & their Customers, Donkeys, Street Performers, Dancers, Buildings, The Sea, A Whale, The Roc, The Roc’s Egg, Snakes etc.

As Citizens, the chorus is similar to a Greek Chorus, narrating the story of the King and Sheherazade throughout the play. They also play all the characters in the stories. Apart from the four central characters - Sheherazade, Dinarzade, King Shahryar and the Vizier - the Chorus can be played by as few as fifteen people or as many as fifty or more. When not involved in stories they can either be off-stage or sitting quietly watching the action. In the original production the chorus was used to create scenery as well as characters, eg Ali Baba’s cave, the Roc, its egg, the whale, a balcony to throw the Little Beggar over etc.


(Click on a title to hear a Windows Media clip)
  1) Opening Orchestra
  2) The King's Wedding Vizier, Sheherazade, Dinarzade & Chorus
  3) The King's Wedding (Reprise) Vizier & Chorus
  4) It Wasn’t Always Like This King Shahryar
  5) Arabian Nights Sheherazade & Dinarzade
  6) The King’s Wedding (Reprise) Chorus
  7) We’re Thieves Chief Thief & Thieves
  8) We’re Thieves (Reprise) Chief Thief & Thieves
  9) Arabian Nights (Reprise) Sheherazade & Dinarzade
10) Deception Morgiana (sings & dances) & Raiyah (dance only)
11) Sheherazade Solo, King Shahryar, Dinarzade, Vizier & Chorus
~~ Interval ~~
12) The Ass & His Ass Farmer, Robbers & Chorus (with solos)
13) Arabian Nights (Reprise) Sheherazade
14) I Killed the Little Beggar Judge, Slave Hassid, Cook, Doctor, Servant, Tailor, Tailor’s Wife, Little Beggar, Sheherazade, Dinarzade, King Shahryar & Chorus
15) Why Should It Be Me? Porter Sinbad
16) Sinbad’s Return Young Sinbad & Chorus
17) Why Should It Be Me? (Reprise) Porter Sinbad
18) Finale King Shahryar, Sheherazade & Chorus
19) Bows / Encore Company
 
Orchestration / Band Parts
These are available for hire as follows :-
  • Violin
  • Trumpet 1 (Fluegelhorn double)
  • Reed 1
  • Reed 2
  • Reed 3
  • Bass (Electric)
  • Drum Set
  • Piano (Acoustic or Digital. Also for use by MD / Conductor )
 
 

 
 

 
 
Duration : 110 mins
Acts : 2
Cast : 18m, 9f, 11m/f
Sets : 5
 
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