Stories from Baghdad on stage

Baghdad Tales, stories from Arabian Nights, will be presented by Northwestern College theatre March 31 and April 1–2 and 7–9 in the Allen Theatre of the DeWitt Theatre Arts Center. Curtain rises at 7:30 p.m.

Director Jeff Barker, Northwestern theatre professor, and the show’s cast and designers selected five tales from the anthology of Arabian and Persian stories, all set in Baghdad. “We hear about modern Baghdad on the news,” Barker said, “but how many of us know really anything about this ancient city? The stories might give us a sense of what it was once like.”

Baghdad Tales has a storytelling frame similar to the one for Arabian Nights, in which a bride is trying to save her life by telling her jealous husband stories every night—always finishing one and starting another so he is forced to spare her life another day to hear the ending. After 1,001 nights and stories, his jealous rage is exhausted.

In the play, Baghdad Tales stories are being told between a husband and wife as well. Gabe is an Iraq War veteran suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder); the stories, told by his wife, Sherri, and other family and friends, are part of his therapy.

Cast members have multiple roles as the stories come alive. Gabe considers passion and regret, vengeance and pardon, wealth and poverty, and other themes through stories within stories, including “The Three Apples,” “The Ruined Man Who Became Rich Again Through a Dream,” “Jaafer the Barmecide,” “Story of the Envier and the Envied,” and “Story of the Barber’s Third Brother.”

The cast includes local students Dan Laird, Orange City, and Dan Sikkema, Hospers. Other actors are Yuika Ida, Japan; Jackson Nickolay, Hovland, Minn.; Katie Shepard, Des Moines; Ali Sondreal, Huron, S.D.; Aleah Stenberg, Big Lake, Minn.; Shelby Vander Molen, Pella, Iowa; Amalia Vasquez, Hood River, Ore.; and Alex Wendel, Charles City, Iowa.

Tickets for Baghdad Tales are $7 for adults and $4 for students. The DeWitt Theatre box office opens March 21 for Theatre Patrons; it is open March 22 through April 9 for the general public. Tickets can be reserved by visiting the box office between 4 and 9 p.m. Monday through Friday or between noon and 5 p.m. on Saturday. The box office can also be reached by phone, 712-707-7098, or e-mail,