The name Shahrazad comes from a character in the book One Thousand and One Nights. The narrative goes like this: Shahrazad prevents her own death by starting to tell a tale to the King (who wants to have her killed), taking the whole night to spin her yarn, and then promising to finish it the next evening. The King OF COURSE wants to hear the end of the story, so he agrees to let her live another night. This goes on for 1,001 nights.
The Cleveland-based Shahrazad Theatre Company hasn’t been around for nearly 1,001 nights. But we want to know more! In a short interview, co-founder Kyle Huff talks about the new company on the Cleveland theatre scene.
Kate Klotzbach: When did Shahrazad form and why?
Kyle Huff: Shahrazad Theatre Company formed late 2016 – early 2017. The simple reason for us forming is that we wanted to perform shows we thought were important and valuable contributions to today’s Cleveland theatre scene. Ensemble Theatre believed in us and has a similar vision of producing shows that benefit the community, so they helped put us up.
KK: I see that there are 3 co-founders, all from Hiram (Kayla Davis, you, and August Scarpelli.) Did you graduate together? What specifically about Hiram prepped you for this new venture?
KH: Yes, Kayla, August, and I all graduated from Hiram. Kayla and I are in the same class, and August is two years behind us. Hiram did a fantastic job of training us to be hardworking and eclectic artists. Hiram encouraged a lot of their students to direct shows they wanted, and to become the creators of shows they wanted to see. I think it instilled in us a DIY attitude towards performing shows. In the end, we were able to gain experience in different aspects of the theatre we normally wouldn’t have been attracted to.
KK: Is “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” your first venture as Shahrazad? Or am I late to the game and have I already missed some other work?
KH: No, you are not late. “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” is Shahrazad’s first step into the public. “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” has a lot familiar faces who have been in the Cleveland theatre scene for quite some time – as well as some newer faces. The cast is Robert Hawkes, James Rankin, Kayla Davis, Val Young, August Scarpelli, Allen Branstein, Steve Vas Hansell, Katelyn Rotuno, Tim Young, Andrew Keller, and Hannah Storch.
KK: Tell me about your relationship with Ensemble Theatre and how the “incubator” relationship works.
KH: All three of us, the co-founders, are artistic associates of Ensemble and have worked with them on many productions. So when we came to them about an idea of starting a company, they were willing to be our fiscal agents and help guide us through our first foray into “producing” a show. Their help and support has been invaluable.
KK: Give me a plug for “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” – what will audiences find intriguing about it?
KH: I think the show lends itself to a wide variety of audience members. Theatre students should definitely come see it – it’s becoming rarer to see Brecht be performed. Anyone who feels disenfranchised by the current political state will find a lot to think about and laugh about in the show. Lastly, it’s a purely entertaining time in the theatre without ever being vapid. Brecht was a great writer who always had a mind for the times, but realized being entertaining was part of what people needed in theatre. Shahrazad has done an amazing job on translating Brecht as well as composing the songs on the play. We hope to see anyone who has a passing interest in theatre as well as long time theatre goers who would like to see something a little different.
Welcome to the community, Shahrazad Theatre Company! We look forward to 1,001+ new creations from you!
Shahrazad Theatre Company’s “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” written by Bertolt Brecht and directed by Directed by Kyle Huff is playing at Ensemble Theatre at 2843 Washington Blvd, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118 through November 12, 2017.
TICKETS – phone: 216-202-0938 | web: www.ensembletheatrecle.org | email: firstname.lastname@example.org