Monday, March 14, 2011

JB Rowley: the story of Sheherezade

Once upon a time there were two brothers who ruled Arabia and Persia. King Shahryar had his palace in Baghdad and his brother King Zaman had his palace in Samarkand. The two brothers ruled their kingdoms and lived contented lives until one day disillusionment and unhappiness entered both their lives.

Calamity first came to King Zaman when he set out on a journey to visit his brother. However, he had not gone far when he had to return to his palace for a precious gift he had forgotten to take with him. When he returned he discovered, to his horror, his wife asleep in the arms of a giant slave. Shortly after, King Shahryar discovered that, when he was away, his wife was in the habit of organising and enjoying erotic orgies with the handsome young slaves at the palace in Baghdad. Of course the faithless wives were executed and Zaman and Sharyar came to the conclusion that women were not to be trusted. Sharyar set about killing the beautiful young virgins of Baghdad and there might have been no limit to his madness had it not been for his chief minister’s daughter, the beautiful, wise and intelligent Sheherezade who became a legendary oral storyteller.

The story of Sheherezade is often in JB Rowley’s storytelling programs. High school students are enthralled by the story and, in 2009, JB told Sheherezade’s story to very receptive audiences as part of the dinner program while on a storytelling tour of the bushfire affected areas of Murrindindi shire. Out of that tour evolved the story of The Flowerdale Tattoo which won the Hope 2011 story competition at ABC POOL. Now, as a way of contributing to POOL, JB is working on a project to honour Sheherezade and her stories, starting with, of course, Sheherezade’s story.

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