Once again, the intention is to work towards a theatre production based upon traditional folk tales, but this time around expect there to be different challenges: the time-scale is shorter, the children are younger than those we worked with in South Africa, and most importantly there will be language issues (our understanding is that few if any of the children will speak English). As a result, I have kept the scripts simple and with greater reliance upon a narrator.
The four stories I chose all came from the same collection of Syrian folk tales. The Beggar Queen has a familiar theme: a young king falling in love with a kind and beautiful beggar girl. The Story of Luck and Fate tells of a man who places too much trust in the words of fortune tellers, so misses out on the opportunities that spread themselves before him. The Tale of the Spilt Molasses tells of a woman whose jealousy of her sister’s good fortune leads to her own fall. Finally, The Peddler’s Daughter tells of a girl whose cleverness persuades a foolish king to change his ways.
There is no title yet for either the project or the production (last year, “Kwasuka Sukela” served for both.) “Once upon a time” in Arabic would seem a good choice, but the Google Translate version does not easily slip off the tongue, and I was wary of choosing a title based on an algorithm. We will just have to wait until our arrival, and the chance to discuss the matter with some Arabic speakers, before making a decision.