BGSU Magazine Spring 2012
'The Arabian Nights' at the Wolfe Center
The Wolfe Center for the Arts, which opened in December, is more than Bowling Green State University’s latest success story. It’s the perfect place to tell a good story.
That, as much as anything, was evident in February in the facility’s debut production, “The Arabian Nights.” Held in the center’s black box, or experimental, Eva Marie Saint Theatre, the play offered an intimate experience by completely surrounding the stage with 118 seats and closing the gap between the audience and actors.
“We did not have a space available before that would have allowed us to do this sort of production. It requires a flexible kind of audience setup,” explained director Dr. Jonathan Chambers, associate professor in the Department of Theatre and Film.
Based on the collection of Middle Eastern folk tales often referred to as “A Thousand and One Nights,” the play by Mary Zimmerman tells the story of Shahryar, a cuckolded king who reacts by marrying — and then killing — a virgin each night. This goes on until he marries Scheherazade, who escapes death night after night by telling him stories.
Dr. Ron Shields, chair of the Department of Theatre and Film, said “The Arabian Nights” was a successful choice for christening the Eva Marie Saint Theatre.
“Besides the creative ensemble cast and inspired directing, the design for the production was also very special, including a setting complete with imaginative locales, shifting lights, and spectacular costumes,” he said.
Senior Dylan Stretchbery, who played Shahryar, said he was eager to perform in The Wolfe Center, which also contains the 400-seat Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre.
“The technology that the new space has to offer is something that we aren’t used to,” said Stretchbery, a 22-yearold from Bowling Green. “There are catwalks above your head, and you can hang lights from there. You can hang curtains from there. You can set the audience up however you’d like…even the floor can be lowered.”
For another cast member, performing in the center was the culmination of a dream.
“I remember as a senior in high school … hearing about plans for The Wolfe Center,” said Nicole Navarre, 22, a senior from Haskins, Ohio. “Being able to actually be the first in there, when the theatre program has been an everyday part of my life for the last four years, is one of the most special gifts I could ever ask for.”