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Live the Arabian Nights

by April Tashiro, Art and Entertainment editor

The ancient world of Arabia comes to life at the Doris Duke Theater of the Honolulu Academy of Arts every Sunday through March 9, as a Hawai‘i storyteller, Jeff Gere presents these beloved tales in a program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Asian Art Endowment Fund. Each show lasts about 90 minutes. Admission is free.

Originally written in Arabic, this Persian classic, also as known as Thousand and One Nights, is a collection of various folktales from Persia, Arabia, and India. The tales are united in a single plot, as they are told by Scheherezade, who tries to save her life from her husband, King Shahryar, by entertaining him, one story per night. Such well-known stories such as Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves and Aladdin and His Magic Lamp come from Arabian Nights.

The shows not only feature story telling, but also shadow puppets, Middle Eastern dance, and music. Gere performs the shadow puppets’ sequences, and Willow Chang, who teaches Middle Eastern dance at Kapiolani Community College and Diamond Head Theatre, performs the dances for the intervals. Music -- reeds, pipes, and percussion -- is performed by Steven Rosenthal and Reggae McGowen.

“Once I began reading these stories, I was hooked. I could not stop, except to get up and pace around the room gasping for breath, full of wonder and admiration for the genius of these Arabic narrators. This is the Iliad of Persia,” Gere said. “It’s quite a show! So jump on the carpet – we’re going to take people away.”

The schedule follows:
Feb. 23: The City of Brass; Adventures Retrieving the Bottles Holding Genie.
March 2: The Fisherman’s Tale; the King, the Sage, and the Prince of the Black Island
March 9: The Porter, Three Baghdad Ladies, and the Three Men with One Eye.

For more information, call Gere at 737-1774 or e-mail



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