THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
Storytelling is an extremely ancient and important tradition that is found in every culture world-wide. Interestingly, many of these stories contain similar themes, characters and symbols. These archetypes are a window into the collective unconsciousness of humanity.
In the Arab tradition, folk stories have been carried down from generation through generation within the family as well as by respected and known storytellers who tell their stories to audiences, often impersonating characters and creating images through the spoken word. The experience of hearing a story, allows it to bypass our usual censor. By allowing the language to enter through our ears, there is the opportunity to breathe them in, to embody them, to digest them. The words bypass our usual way of processing information: through the eyes, directly to the brain, where they are immediately judged and categorized. Sufis have traditionally used storytelling to transmit knowledge that is transcendent and there continues to be a widespread belief that stories take root inside of the individual who hears them and continue to grow, revealing different layers of meaning over time. Like dreams they reveal messages to us, helping us to grow, to learn about ourselves and human nature and giving us a mirror into our own quest for truth.
In the "The Arabian Nights" the character of Scheherazade embodies the "universal storyteller", who heals Shahryar, a king who has lost his way, by telling him stories over a period of one thousand and one nights. Altogether the ancient collection of stories represent the journey to get back in touch with the soul. Similarly to the Tao and the Kama Sutra, the stories also contain lessons about the male and female union, and how a harmonious physical, mental, emotional and spiritual relationship allows each partner to complete the other. In Zimmerman's adaptation, the stories literally travel through these different centers or chakras of the body, beginning in the lower physical realm, journeying upwards through the heart, the mind and ultimately, into the world of the spirit, where Shahryar is finally whole once again, finding balance through the reconciliation with the yin self which he finds in Scheherazade.
Nowadays in the Western world, the theatre remains one of the few remaining venues for a live exchange between an audience and actors that is transformed and renewed every night. We are the storytellers.