Sunday, October 19, 2014

1001 Nights around the Fire Ring

Sara Barker announces an upcoming fireside reading of stories from The 1001 Nights, this Saturday October 25 in Arlington, Virginia. She has also successfully funded (via kickstarter) a larger upcoming project on the Nights (info below).
upcoming reading - 
1001 Nights around the Fire Ring!
WSC Avant Bard
Saturday, October 25, 2014 from 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM (EDT)
Arlington, VA

Many of us tell stories to understand our lives. Shahrazad tells them to save hers...
One Thousand and One Nights at the Lubber Run Fire Ring

Join WSC Avant Bard Theatre at 7:30 pm on Saturday, October 25 at Lubber Run’s Fire Ring for a theatrical reading of selections from One Thousand and One Nights,*adapted for the stage by Hanan al-Shaykh and Tim Supple, and directed by WSC Avant Bard company member Lynn Sharp Spears, who brought her thrilling rendition of Beowulf to the Lubber Run Fire Ring last year!

Come discover the extraordinary tales that kept Shahrazad alive for 1001 nights! The tales will be enlivened by musical accompaniment in this special staged reading under the stars; picnic baskets and blankets are strongly encouraged.

Admission is free but please RSVP.

WSC Avant Bard is proud to produce One Thousand and One Nights as part of the Gaurav Gopalan FREE Reading Series. Visit to help support WSC Avant Bard.

*Parental Advisory: mature themes and content

info from the kickstarter site -
WSC Avant Bard is proud to produce One Thousand and One Nights as part of the Gaurav Gopalan FREE Reading Series. Visit to help support WSC Avant Bard.

*Parental Advisory: mature themes and content

Help WSC Avant Bard bring to life the US premiere of a theatrical retelling of 1001 Nights, adapted by Hanan al Shaykh & Tim Supple!

1001 Nights Performers:
Bette Cassatte
Maggie Clifton
Christian Gibbs
Eryn Gleason
Sha Golanski
Theodore Hadjimichael
Stephen Krzyzanowski
Brooke Mulkins
Autumn Seavey Hicks
Gillian Shelly
Gabriel Swee
Annette Wasno
Chuck Young
Halah Zenhom

1001 Nights Musicians:
Manko Eponymous
Erik Sharar
Jason Wilson

Three members of WSC Avant Bard -- a theatre company that produces shows in and around Washington, DC -- have a dream of bringing a magical piece of theatre to the US. Director Lynn Sharp Spears, Stage Manager Maggie Clifton, and Actor Sara Barker discovered the existence of a new stage version of One Thousand and One Nights while searching for the next play to stage around the Lubber Run Park Fire Ring - a twice yearly tradition for the company. Lynn had great success directing a staged reading of Beowulf around the fire ring and they were looking for something similarly epic. Sara thought that One Thousand and One Nights would make for a splendid staged reading around the fire ring and was thrilled to discover that as recent as 2011 the stories from One Thousand and One Nights had been freshly adapted by celebrated Lebanese author Hanan al Shaykh and dramatized for the stage by British director Tim Supple. The production had its European premiere at the 2011 Edinburgh International Festival. WSC Avant Bard believes its high time this magical play have its US premiere! The first step is producing a staged reading, so the three WSC Avant Bard members are raising funds to provide the actors and musicians involved a small stipend for their talent and time.

Here are a few words about the new adaptation from Tim Supple: "We want to give audiences in the theatre an experience of the One Thousand and One Nights as they are in the original Arabic texts, before they were discovered and translated by the West; and before they were exoticized and adapted for children. When you read the Arabic originals, you find stories that are erotic and brutal; that are about destiny, love, marriage, and power; about the fundamental processes of social existence. These stories are remarkable and surprising; and complex and important."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Arabian Nights (Everyman's Library)

A new edited collection of stories from the Nights has been published by Everyman (2014). It is a selection of stories collected by Wen-chin Ouyang. The stories are culled from Burton, Lane, Scott and Payne. Although I haven't received my copy yet it seems like an interesting text that would possibly make for a good intro reader. There seem to be hundreds of versions of the Nights coming out every week.

Here's an overview of the book's genesis by The National (Abu Dhabi) -

from the article:

"“There is a large group of people who now see The Arabian Nights as a western rather than Arabic classic,” says the anthology’s editor, Wen-chin Ouyang. “And it is very possible that Aladdin and the Magic Lamp and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves were European inventions from writers wanting to pen ‘Oriental tales’. They were then translated into Arabic and became part of this ever-growing compendium of stories by the 19th century. The story of Sindbad is really interesting, for example. Is it originally a Turkish folk tale, or a Turkish translation of an Oriental tale? There’s still work to be done on that.”

You’d bet on Ouyang to do it. Her love of The Arabian Nights reads like a literary adventure all of its own: growing up in Libya, she first read it in Chinese – but her school friends had never heard of this world of genies, ebony horses or fairies. What’s more, in Libya, there wasn’t an Arabic version to be found in libraries, universities or bookshops. Finally, a friend smuggled her a copy of Alf Layla Wa Layla (The Thousand and One Nights) with the warning : “My mother says good girls are not allowed to read it.” This edition was such hard work to read, Ouyang gave up.""

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Haruki Murakami's "Scheherazade"

photo art by Merlin (at link below)

The 2014 Nobel Prize for Literature is set to be announced tomorrow and Murakami's odds, according to an English betting company, is 1/4. The Prize Committee has always been known to surprise, however.

The New Yorker recently published Murakami's story "Scheherazade" and you can read it online here:

Here is the magazine's interview with Murakami about the story - 

"Each time they had sex, she told Habara a strange and gripping story afterward. Like Queen Scheherazade in “A Thousand and One Nights.” Though, of course, Habara, unlike the king, had no plan to chop off her head the next morning. (She never stayed with him till morning, anyway.) She told Habara the stories because she wanted to, because, he guessed, she enjoyed curling up in bed and talking to a man during those languid, intimate moments after making love. And also, probably, because she wished to comfort Habara, who had to spend every day cooped up indoors.

Because of this, Habara had dubbed the woman Scheherazade. He never used the name to her face, but it was how he referred to her in the small diary he kept. “Scheherazade came today,” he’d note in ballpoint pen. Then he’d record the gist of that day’s story in simple, cryptic terms that were sure to baffle anyone who might read the diary later."

Sunday, October 5, 2014

"The Prince and the Tortoise" - Fairy Tale Comics

A rarely found Nights story, “The Prince and the Tortoise,” appears in graphic form in the newly recently published book Fairy Tale Comics. The book is edited by Chris Duffy who has been the editorial brains behind significant reboots of series like Nickelodeon Magazine and several key DC Comics titles. The story is illustrated by well-known comic artist Ramona Fradon ( and written by Chris Duffy.

“The Prince and the Tortoise” first appears in the Nights in the Mardrus translation. According to The Arabian Nights Encyclopedia “This tale does not feature in the standard Arabic manuscripts of the Arabian Nights. According to Chauvin, Mardrus appropriated the tale from Yacoub Artin Pacha’s Contes populaires de la vallee du Nil” (Vol 1: 330).

The story concerns a prince who must choose a bride by shooting an arrow into the city and marrying an eligible daughter living in the house the arrow hits. Of course there are issues. The arrow strikes the same house multiple times but it’s not a daughter who lives there but a tortoise.

The prince decides to go ahead with the marriage. His two brothers marry human women. The three couples must then compete for their father the King’s favor and all sorts of hijinks follow involving the tortoise. I won’t spoil the story or the end but it’s happily ever after.

The book Fairy Tale Comics also contains many standard fairy tales rendered by contemporary graphic and comic book artists. These include two of my favorites, Jaime Hernandez (here doing “Snow White”) and Gilbert Hernandez (“Hansel and Gretel”), who pen the fantastic adult graphic series Love and Rockets. The book overall is a great addition to the continuation of fairy tales and is perfect for kids. My daughter reads it constantly and it’s the first exposure she’s had to many canonical fairy tales.

If you are interested you can buy it (with no financial reward to myself by the way) on Amazon here -

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Thomas Barger's 1001 Nights

This is a rare one of a kind version of the Nights that a family member has. It was a gift upon retirement to Thomas Barger, ex-CEO of Aramco and one of that company's founders (

It is a sixteen volume version of Richard F. Burton's Alf Layla in a wooden treasure chest box. Each volume is bound in leather and each one is stamped with Barger's name in Arabic. The Saudi Arabian publisher is marked on one of the pages below. It is stamped 1964 KHAYATS Beirut. Just wanted to share the pictures -

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

1001 Tacos Arabes

 al pastor at Al Tizoncito

Just returned from Mexico City DF where the street food scene was incredible.

The history of tacos al pastor (pork tacos cooked vertically on a spit, usually with a pineapple on top) is disputed but is said to come from Mexico City or Puebla or thereabouts, created by Lebanese immigrants bringing their shawarma skills with them.

The latest taco craze in the city are "tacos arabes" or Arabic tacos. Taco meat and fillings in pita bread.

At one amazing restaurant, Al Tizoncito on Tamaulipas 122 in Condesa, has them called "Sherezadas" after our herione. They also claim to be the birthplace of al pastor. Regardless, they serve up the best pastor I've ever had, on tortilla or Sherezada style.

A Nights related (and worthy) food story of shawarma turning into tacos turning back into shawarma?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

"Miami Icons: Opa-locka City Hall, an Arabesque Dream in the Face of Urban Decay"

More on Opa-locka Florida – the city based on The Arabian Nights – from Miami New Times, apharisto ya Pedro -

"Miami Icons: Opa-locka City Hall, an Arabesque Dream in the Face of Urban Decay

picture by Karli Evans

 San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge. St. Louis has the Arch. Las Vegas has its retro welcome sign. It seems like every city has an iconic structure to represent itself to the rest of the world. Every city but Miami, that is. The Magic City is full of architectural gems, and maybe that's why no one building has come to define it. But that's left this town without a symbol of its own. In our Miami Icons series, we're aiming to fix that. Today, writer Abel Folgar argues that Opa-locka's City Hall is the perfect metaphor for Miami.


Founded in 1926 by aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss and fashioned by a bizarre penchant for the One Thousand and One Nights, Opa-locka is the largest architectural example of the Moorish Revival style in the west, with the city hall building being the flagship that arrows out to other structures in the city. The 1926 Great Miami Hurricane effectively destroyed South Florida, and the newly minted City of Opa-locka was not exempt. But a large majority of the buildings survived -- the mettle with which dreams are built."