Once upon a time, there lived an illustrious queen. The night she bore her first son, a sinister star crossed the sky, foretelling ruin should he ever ascend to the throne. The queen, believing the omen, gouged out her own infant’s eyes – a blind wretch cannot be king. A year later she bore a second heir; the young man took up the sceptre when it was his time to rule. Suddenly, the world sundered between light and darkness, one-half the domain of each brother, the sultan of light and the sultan of dark, a sister in between them. For twenty years, the younger led a prosperous Sun-kingdom, till his first wife, the only creature he’d ever loved, betrayed him with a slave. As he took her life, agony and dismay turned his heart to obsidian. Swearing to banish infidelity from the realm, the sultan, enraged, claimed a fresh virgin each night, beheading her in the morning. This he continued for one thousand and one nights, slaughtering all the maidens in the kingdom. Left with only the young daughters of his vizier, he summoned them before him. Scheherazade, the elder, a wily creature of marvel and wit, enraptured the sultan into her tale … of a queen ruling a Sun-realm redeemed. At dawn, the sultan, moved to his core, chose to make Scheherazade his wife. As the thousand-and-second night falls, the kingdom erupting in joy, doom strikes beyond anyone’s darkest inkling. A dreadful DJINN tramples the world – an immense bleak pillar of smoke, with eyes of scorching hellfire and a mouth-pit devouring the Seraj!
“Svetina’s drama works channel myths and fairytales from the world’s literary cache and re-forge them into new stories, in which the playwright explores issues of ‘the foundations and elementary claims of the Eurocentric world’. His play Scheherazade (1988) is the first in a string of creations based on Oriental themes. It features, as Boris Svetel establishes, also certain characteristics of Svetina’s poetry, which was permeated by similar subject matter since its beginnings. The Orient here does not merely enter the theme, but also carries the complete framework of form, from diction and metaphor to the composition of syntactical units […] Svetina’s incarnation of Scheherazade no longer seeks to establish a balance between the sensual charms she must command to seduce the sultan and the ripe reason that allows her to captivate the listener, namely, she no longer addresses the body and the soul, but enters instead precisely to summon the Djinn. To Svetina, art represents the sole means at the world’s disposal to suspend wanton slaughter, though even it cannot assure deliverance in the face of man’s pride,” writes Katja Mihurko Poniž in the afterword.
Original title: Šeherezada
Edited by: Alenka Jovanovski
Afterword: Katja Mihurko Poniž
Price: 10,00 EUR