Cuyamaca College’s theatrical performance ‘Scheherazade: Tell Me A Story’ breaks boundaries in Middle Eastern culture and music

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After his first marriage, a king became bitter because of his wife’s infidelity. After that he would wed a new wife every night, just to have her executed the next morning. But at last, Scheherazade came along and eluded execution with her elaborate skill of storytelling for 1,000 nights. It was the 1,001st night, that she saved her life by telling a incredible tale of two undeniable lovers, in which nothing could stand between.

After his first marriage, a king became bitter because of his wife’s infidelity. After that he would wed a new wife every night, just to have her executed the next morning. But at last, Scheherazade came along and eluded execution with her elaborate skill of storytelling for 1,000 nights. It was the 1,001st night, that she saved her life by telling a incredible tale of two undeniable lovers, in which nothing could stand between.

Isam and Ayla found love at a very young age, and as they grew, so did their devotion for each other. Isam left for war, giving Ayla his yashmagh, (his head scarf handed down generations), and she in return gave him her a handkerchief, handed down from her grandmother only to be given to the man that possesses her heart. Coming home 10 years later, Isam finds Ayla, adorned in his scarf and he carrying her handkerchief in a pocket close to his heart.

After spending so long listening to Scheherazade’s stories, the king learned that love is alive after all and he had found it with her. It shattered his cold evil heart and they lived the rest of their lives in love, peace and harmony.

This tale unfolded at the Cuyamaca College’s Performing Arts Center with the vision of Arabic instructor Aklas Sheai. With hand sewn costumes that captured the essence in her version of “Arabian Nights,” also known as “One Thousand and One Nights.” With students from the college and children from the church where see teaches Arabic, Sheai’s interpretation of these classic tales, wove in the music and culture of the Middle East. With elaborate costumes, which she made by hand, and compelling music that much of the audience recognized, this year’s cultural production of “Scheherazade: Tell Me A Story” was an welcomed five acts, with nearly a full house in attendance.

Since 2008, Sheai brought Middle Eastern cultural theatre to Cuyamaca in order to give others a glimpse into the culture of the Middle Eastern heritage. A Chaldean refugee, who game to America in 2005 with her husband and two children, she began teaching at Cuyamaca in 2008.

Dubbed both in English and Arabic, it gave everyone in the audience the ability to appreciate and participate throughout the five acts. This play is truly a labor of love on Sheai’s part, and put together completely by students, the community and support from the Grossmont and Cuyamaca College Foundation.

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