Tonight our production of Mary Zimmerman's Arabian Nights opens. It is a lush script filled with stories we might not be familiar with. No Aladdin here, but more obscure tales from this rich wellspring of Persian culture. I really love the script, and this production is all I had hoped it would be, The cast is doing a wonderful job, each playing several characters who change simply by changing their hat or robe. It is a glorified game of "Let's Pretend." Much like when we were children and slipped on Mommy's high heels and became a "grown up lady," or wore Daddy's tie and were a gentleman, so this play offers the cast a chance to change a representative piece of clothing and become a new person. It is so much fun to watch.
My colleague has designed and painted an exquisitely beautiful set. I did the costume design. We used Persian miniatures from the 16th century as our inspiration, with a saturated, yet limited palette. It was somewhat restrictive, yet very freeing within the confines of the restrictions. Much like writing a sonnet - you have to stay within the structure, but within that structure, you can go wild.
This play is funny, it is touching, and the ending reminds us, for a split second, of the modern Persia, so troubled and violent, from which we have been given the gift of all this glorious literature.