Tales From The Arabian Nights

Adapted from Dominic Cooke’s version for the Royal Shakespeare Company

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It’s wedding night in the palace of King Shahrayar.

By morning, the new queen, Shahrazad, is to be put to death like a thousand and one young brides before her. But, Shahrazad has the one gift that can save her: the gift of storytelling.

With a mischievous imagination and silver tongue, she begins to paint a dazzling array of stories and characters, summoned forth from strange and magical worlds populated by giant snakes, bloodthirsty thieves and cunning maids. 

Can the power of storytelling save her life?

A very sleek being

Directing Dominic Cooke’s adaptation of The Arabian Nights has been a great pleasure – and a great challenge.

Firstly, I’d like to thank him for his support of Blue Apple and his permission to allow us to cut back his script, in order for the company to achieve the production. The process has been, by no means, easy. Dominic’s script, through several previous incarnations, had already been honed to a very sleek being. There was, literally, nothing that I thought ‘get rid of that’, ‘that’s extraneous’ etc. 

But, needs drive, and so what we present to you tonight is a honed down version, of the honed down version. It’s been immense fun working on it. 

One of my earliest theatre experiences was doing a workshop with Mike Alfreds, of Shared Experience, who was, at that time, touring his version of ‘The Arabian Nights’. Like Dominic, he too had gone very much down the ‘poor theatre’, storytelling route and it struck me as a very powerful, and simple, way to engage and captivate an audience. When I came across Dominic’s script it resonated in many ways.

For Blue Apple this has been, yet again, a new adventure. With ‘The Happy Prince’ and ‘The Snow Queen’ we’d begun to explore storytelling – but this, most certainly, takes things to a much greater level. This isn’t just storytelling. This is…

As with all Blue Apple productions, I remain in a degree of awe – and enormous respect – for the company’s performers. Their commitment, humour, complicite and – above all – talent, makes them a pleasure to work with.

I, we, very much hope that you, the audience, find ‘The Arabian Nights’ as enjoyable a production to watch as it has been to work on.

Peter Clerke
Artistic Director

Cast & Crew

Ros Davies - Shahrazad            
Tommy Jessop - Shahrayar            
Aaron Pressman - Vizier            
Katy Francis - Dinarzad / Marjanah
Dan Austin - Headsman
Andrew Malster - Photographer / Thief        
Ellie Moody  - Queen / Dancer        
Ryan Nicholas - Masud / King (Little Beggar) / Marriage Broker (Abu Hassan)
Lawrie Morris - Ali Baba / Chief of Police (Little Beggar)        
Anna Brisbane - Ali Baba’s Wife / Tailor’s Wife (Little Beggar) / Mother (Abu Hassan)
James Benfield - Kasim / Abu Hassan
Katie Appleford - Kasim’s Wife / Passer-by (Little Beggar)        
David Hunt - Ali Baba’s son / Hangman (Little Beggar)        
Daisy Searle - Captain of the 40 Thieves            
Jossie Kirby - Druggist / Dancer            
Fergus Horsfall - Baba Mustapha / Thief        
Neil White - Little Beggar / King (Abu Hassan) / Sindebad the Porter    
Chris Pearce - Tailor (Little Beggar) / Thief        
Hannah Lowe - Maid (Little Beggar) / Bride (Abu Hassan) / Dancer        
Maxim Bird - Doctor (Little Beggar) / Thief
Coleen Cadoret - Doctor’s Wife (Little Beggar) / Thief
Henry Fuller - Steward (Little Beggar) / Thief            
George Berry - Merchant (Little Beggar) /  Thief            
Alice Peck - Girl (Abu Hassan) / Dancer            
James Smith - Sindebad the Sailor                
James Ellsworthy - Sindebad Puppeteer
Katie Cole - Sindebad Puppeteer / Dancer
Jason Kidd - Sindebad Puppeteer
Sue Dashper - Sindebad Puppeteer
Michelle Pluck - Sindebad Puppeteer / Dancer
Lucy Parrot - Dancer                    
Emma Rabjohn - Dancer        
Polly Troupe - Dancer                    
Judith Hughes - Dancer                    
Rachel Osbourne - Dancer                    
Dawn Hawkins - Dancer

All other parts played by members of the company

Direction - Peter Clerke
Script - Dominic Cooke
Choreography - Jo Harris
Costume - Jenni Sundheim
Animation - Nigel Luck
Production Management - Ben Ward
Lighting Design - Mark Dymock
Set Design - Simon Plumridge
Set Assistant - Kate Theodore
Film - William Jessop
Stage Management - Maria Chirca / Joe Price
Assistant Stage Management - Michelle Pluck / Rachel Osbourne
Music sourced by - Louise Sarton
Print Design - dosrios.co.uk
Photography - James Yeats-Brown, Elisabeth Yeats-Brown, Jenni Sundheim, Jane Jessop

With thanks to: Kings’ School, Winchester; Theatre Royal Winchester; Arts University Bournemouth; Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford.



Thursday 26, Friday 27, Saturday 28 June 7.30pm
Theatre Royal Winchester