1001 nights: Enter the realm of magical storytelling


In October, UJ Arts & Culture will proudly unveil its forthcoming theatrical production, 1001 Nights, a spellbinding reimagining of the timeless tales from the well-known and treasured classic

1001 Nights, written by the renowned playwright Ismail Mohamed, under the skillful direction of UJ’s resident director, Jade Bowers. This magical journey is brought to life by the extraordinary talents of Dolly Louw, Musanete Sakupwanya, and Ilse Klink, complemented by the mesmerizing compositions of Matthew MacFarlan.

The show is taking place on the stage of the Keorapetse William Kgositsile Theatre at the UJ Arts Centre from October 23rd to 28th, 2023.

A retelling of classics

Promising to transport audiences into a realm of magical storytelling and cultural exploration, 1001 Nights is a brilliantly conceived retelling of the classic tales from the Arabian Nights offering a fresh perspective on the stories woven together by the young Queen Shahrazad.

Set against the backdrop of King Shahrayar’s palace and the Persian’s prince’s vow to kill his new wives, the play begins on their wedding night that unfolds into a suspenseful narrative of storytelling prowess.

As dawn approaches, Queen Shahrazad faces the impending fate that has befallen her predecessors – a sentence of death. Armed with the gift of storytelling, she endeavours to captivate King Shahrayar with her tales, leading him on an extraordinary voyage to mystical realms filled with talking birds, crafty thieves, and giant beasts. The heart of the play lies in the question of whether her silver-tongued tales will spare her life for another day.

Exploring deeper themes

1001 Nights goes beyond its captivating narratives to explore deeper themes of diversity, transformation, and cultural tolerance. Rooted in the rich history of the Middle East, the Arabian Nights tales reflect a tapestry of influences from Arabic, Egyptian, Sanskrit, Persian, and Mesopotamian literature. The production aims to spark conversations about history, religion, and the shared human experience, ultimately promoting understanding and unity among communities.

“The chance to experiment with a very African tradition – storytelling – to contribute to societal transformation and impact withing the context of these rich narratives really excited me,” says Resident Director of UJ Arts & Culture, Jade Bowers.

“By embracing the cultural tapestry woven throughout the stories of Arabian Nights, we aim to foster dialogue and bridge gaps of ignorance, facilitating connections that transcend differences and celebrate shared humanity,” she adds.

Following in winning footsteps

1001 Nights follows in the footsteps of several productions birthed through the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture’s Interdisciplinary Theatre Programme, where second-year students from across the faculty are divided into interdisciplinary groups and challenged to design and build models for various aspects of a production.

Two of the programme’s previous productions, Kafka’s Metamorphosis and new South African musical Hlakanyana, highlighted the potential of the programme by both being acknowledged with several Naledi Theatre Awards.  

Experience the captivating magic of 1001 Nights at the UJ Arts Centre from 23 October to 28 October.  

Tickets are now available on Plankton. Tickets for registered students are R80 and R100 for general admission.


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