Berkeley Rep Does Arabs

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Office of Academic Affairs


"This was also the precise moment that I realized my mistake. Shahrazad entered and she had the whitest porcelain skin and the lightest blond hair. Dark-haired and dark-skinned actresses surrounded her, playing her sister and slaves but this future queen, the rescuer of Moslem virgins looked eastern European not Middle Eastern! And gone was her self-assertion, the will to decide her own destiny. In Mary Zimmerman’s The Arabian Nights, King Shahryar explicitly asks the Wazir for her. When the father brings news of this fate, Shahrazad weeps and finally acquiesces, reminding herself and the audience that she might be able to save other lives. Her wedding night encounter with the king is screechy, almost whiny. The sexual act is barely implied; yet the gleaming dagger at Shahrazad’s throat is real. It dominates the first act as the unhinged king, ferocious in his desperate pain, keeps it there and presses it into her flesh in every bit of conversation between them. " ~ Article excerpt