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March 6, 2021
Humans and stories are inextricably linked. We tell stories about all sorts of things. Internal stories might help us navigate our inner landscape. Family stories can root us in tradition. Public stories can drive the fate of nations.
Stories bring us together on many different levels. Neuroscientists tell us that as we listen to a story being told, our brain waves begin to synchronize with the story teller. At live performances, the heart beats of audience members will begin to synchronize as well.
We can not speak about stories, without speaking about power.
Who is allowed to tell the story? What stories are told and which are silenced?
These are inherently political questions. And whoever controls a community’s story, controls the reality-creation of that community.
In this play, a group of young people are using stories to build their own power. Once a month they escape from their school authorities, meet in secret, and tell each other stories. Inspired by the character of Shahrazad, who told stories to stay alive, the students begin by sharing stories from One Thousand and One Arabian Nights.
One Thousand and One Arabian Nights is a collection of Middle Eastern tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age, a period of cultural, economic, and scientific flourishing in the history of Islam, traditionally dated from the 8th century to the 14th century CE. It has a complex history. The collection was translated into English during the 1700’s and the collection, filtered through the European gaze, was used as a tool for reinforcing negative stereotypes and orientalism. In the mid-1980’s Egypt banned the book for violating pornography laws.
In the world of this play, students turn to this banned book for inspiration and consciously re-envision the stories to serve their own purposes. This script invites us all to ponder what stories we blindly accept, what stories we interrogate, what stories we are ready to let go of, and what stories we cling to in crisis. We can also take our analysis one step further and consider when we might feel we have the right to re-envision a story, and when we might feel that a story is not ours to tell.
Many thanks to Ramón Esquivel for sharing his script with us. And thank you for joining us for this online storytelling experience.
Acme Theatre Company
About the playwright
Ramón Esquivel is a playwright, dramaturg, director, and theatre educator. His plays have been produced in theatres, universities, and schools in New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Austin, Pittsburgh, Denver, Vancouver BC, Seattle, and elsewhere in North America. Recent world premieres include The Hero Twins: Blood Race at the University of Texas at Austin and Appalachian State University, and Above Between Below, which has been touring Washington and Oregon schools through a collaboration between Seattle Children’s Theatre, Oregon Children’s Theatre, and the Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre Program. A current project, ¡O Cascadia!, has been developed at the Seven Devils Playwrights Conference. Ramón’s play Dulce was presented at the Austin Latino New Play Festival, and was also featured at the Latinx Theatre Commons Sin Fronteras Festival. His play The Shahrazad Society won the Aurand Harris Memorial Playwriting Award from the New England Theatre Conference. Available through Dramatic Publishing are three plays, Luna, Nasty, and Nocturnal, and his works are featured in two anthologies, New Visions/New Voices: 25 Years/25 Plays, and Palabras del Cielo: An Exploration of Latina/o Theatre for Young Audiences. Ramón is currently Assistant Professor of Theatre - Playwriting at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo.
Meet The Cast & Crew
Xiomara Dre Velasquez
Mattias RowenBale (he/him) is a sophomore at Davis Senior High. In fact, he’s spent the last month frantically trying to decide on his classes for next year. But back to the matter at hand! Not only is Mattias playing Dominic in this show, he is also Acme’s Stage Manager. He’s been a part of Acme for two years, and has loved every minute of it. Well, maybe not that one show last spring when no one knew how to use Zoom....? No, he’s kidding, even that was fun (and Acme has gotten quite a bit more tach savvy since then, so no need to worry). When not in rehearsal, a production meeting, or cleaning out costume storage, Mattias can be found in a wide variety of Zoom meetings. Between school and clubs and other various extracurriculars, his parents have hardly seen him all year! He is also currently in the middle of reading a book about Atlantis, in case you were wondering. Now without further ado, he hopes you enjoy the show!!
Ian Bourne (he/him) is a sophomore at DHS. This is his sixth show with Acme, his favorite so far being Sherlock Holmes: the Final Adventure (Sherlock Holmes). He is also Acme’s Education Program Coordinator where he gets to let out his inner (even younger) child. He is very excited to be playing Malik in The Shahrazad Society, mostly because of the storytelling element. During quarantine, Ian can often be found out on walks with his wonderful joyfriend, biking around town with his friends, or watching Youtube (a little too often). He recently started learning piano, and will certainly play for you if you ask (or even if you don’t). He would like to thank all the new Acme members who keep the company going.
Jackie Wallis is a Junior at DHS and has been a part of acme for a little over a year. She is the current set master and occasionally steps in to act when needed. Some of her favorite roles over the years have been Allison (The Breakfast Club), Filby (The Time Machine), and Ottavio (Scapino!). She will occasionally draw a picture, or maybe go on a hike. Please stay safe and enjoy the show!
Wrenjamin Arellano Calderon
Wrenjamin Arellano Calderon (Still the King of the Birds) (he/him) is a junior at Davis High School excited to be in his seventh acme show! Wow so many shows he must have no life! She was apart of tech crew for this lovely show. Wren has been on the stage for about 5 years. Some of Wren's memorable roles include his first acme show The Twelve Huntsmen (Magic Goat), Daughter of The Storms (Gwendolyn Moon), and Peter and the Starcatcher's very own right hand man of Black Stache, Smee! When Wren is not acting, he is found either hanging out with his friends or simply trying to rule the world with his bird army. Some day, he shall become emperor of the birds. He hopes you enjoy the show!
Morgan Hendrix-Chupa (she/they) is a junior at Davis High School and is glad to be joining Acme again! Morgan started acting in the summer of 2017, and so far has been in multiple plays. Their favorite roles they have played are Jules and Mother Baker (Twelve Huntsmen), Mr. Gloss (Beaux Stratagem), Mortimer Mortimer (Failure: A Love Story), Sophie Martin (The Burials), and Miss Scarlet (Clue: On Stage). In this show, she is playing Leila, a nervous but theatrically inclined high school student. While she is in quarantine, Morgan likes to play video games, make and eat delicious food, and appreciate the color pink to its fullest extent. They would like to thank the cast and crew of The Shahrazad Society for sharing this mysterious story with them. She hopes you enjoy the show!
Juna Brothers (she/her) is a freshman at Holmes Junior High School. You may have seen her in some of Acme's virtual shows or in her school's production of Much Ado About Nothing. She is very excited to play Reinko and the Ring Djinni in The Shahrazad Society. Whenever she has free time, she likes to listen to Taylor Swift, watch Glee, talk to her friends, and write. She would like to thank everyone involved in the play for their contributions and hopes everyone enjoys the show.
Analia Eisen (she/her) is a sophomore at DHS. This is only her second show with Acme, but she’s been in various other plays before. She is excited to play the role of Tara in The Sharhazad Society. During quarantine, she spends her time drawing, listening to music, and attempting to learn new skills such as roller skating and gardening. She would like to thank her fellow Acme members and cast mates for helping with the production of the show
Zoe Kaplan (She/Her) is a sophomore at Davinci High but is in the process of transferring to Davis high and is excited to be in the costume department for this show and more! This is her first time working with Acme, but has had a love for clothing and costumes for a long time. In her free time she loves to bake, paint, craft and put together fun outfits while dancing to music. She is a beginner sewist but hopes to use her newfound skill to add fun elements to costumes in the future. Hope you enjoy the show!
Eliot Larson (they/them) is homeschooled and in 9th grade. This is their first time as the assistant stage manager for Acme Theatre and they are so happy to have this great opportunity! They have been in two other Acme shows, Sherlock Holmes and The Thanksgiving Play. They also danced in 15 full length ballets with Haneke and Company over the span of about 9 years. They have also acted in 9 Shakespeare productions with their homeschool group in Davis. Eliot enjoys playing softball, piano and writing poetry, songs and letters to their amazing boyfriend. They hope you enjoy this awesome and inspiring production of The Sharhazad Society!
Maya Bailey (she/her) is a senior at Davis High School and is in her final year of Acme Theatre Company. Maya is Acme's Master Electrician and designed the lighting for The Shahrazad Society. Maya loves all aspects of theatre and does tech work and acting with Acme and Davis High Theatre. In fact, Maya is headed off to college (the exact school still undecided) in the fall to study technical theatre! Outside of theatre, Maya loves to spend time with her friends, make jewelry, play with her cat, and she loves her job at Davis Ace Hardware. Maya is so grateful for her time in Acme Theatre Company and she hopes you enjoy The Shahrazad Society!