Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Show About Arabs, With No Arabs

The Arena Stage in Washington DC latest play is a take on the Arabian Nights, but it does not seem that the most famous Arab story or stories has no actual Arabic in it. It brings Islam and the culture of the Middle East to the art scene here in DC. This play like countless others have been adapted from "The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night"

Watch this segment from the actual play and the interviews afterward with the audience. While the concept to bring this play to the stage is noble and might forgive the lack of Arabs in this tale, I feel that this might be another attempt of white washing, where white actor and actress fill in for Arab characters. There are however a list of the cast members who seem to come from different backgrounds and countries. That's a great attempt by the director Mary Zimmerman.

Maybe there are no actors in DC who are Arabs, maybe the company has no Arab talents to tab. Maybe Arabs do not enjoy this tale that is full of stereotypes and mis- characterizations that make is a lot harder to be an Arab in the West. I do know there are many Arabs in the DC area and many of them are talented enough to appear on this stage. I would love to see the show and judge for myself, but everything I read does not help me make up my mind.

"The Arabian Nights" at Arena Stage


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