Brandon Monokian is a theatre artist who works in the New York City and New Jersey area. For the Page to Stage guest blog series, Brandon will document the process of bringing three works from the page to the stage – all in the Princeton Public Library.

by Brandon Monokian

Brandon’s interview. Photo by Janie Hermann.

I was recently interviewed for a mini documentary that will be used to help promote the Page to Stage series future expansion. The interview provided an excellent opportunity to reflect on the merging of libraries and the arts. To some, the partnership between libraries and theatre seems unexpected. The library is often seen as a strict, quiet place where the slightest sound could be disturbing, and the theatre is seen as loud and filled with exuberance.

Those who find the partnership odd are forgetting the key values libraries and theatre share; education, entertainment and the commitment to providing access to great stories.

Great story telling is at the heart of Mary Zimmerman’s The Arabian Nights, the next installment of our Page to Stage series. It is a play inspired by a story about the telling of even more stories! The original text is a compilation of West and South Asian folk tales, some famous examples being the stories of Sinbad the Sailor and Aladdin and his magic lamp. The stories are told by Scheherazade, who has married the infamous King Shahryār, who would take a new wife every night, take her virginity, and then kill her. To escape the fate of the countless women before her Scheherazade entrances him for 1001 nights by recounting the famous folk tales that make up Arabian Nights.

Page to Stage actors Allison Andresini and Michael Lasry. Photo by Brandon Monokian.

These tales as old as time feel fresh as ever, exploring lust, love and everything in between. As we delve into rehearsals exciting challenges await, as each actor will breathe life into multiple characters. The structure of the play enables the work of a true performance ensemble to not only flex their theatrical muscles, but to really go back to the root of theatre: story telling. And what better place for this story telling… this play inspired by a story about the telling of stories… what better place for this than a library!

Select acting credits include Love Is in the Air (dir. Jeremy Bloom, The Cell), Shlemiel the First (dir. David Gordon, NYC Skirball Center, Alexander Kasser Theatre), How to Build a Forest (PearlDamour, The Kitchen) andPastTENSE (dir. Robert Woodruff). Select directing credits include Revolutionary Readings (tour) and the Page to Stage series at the Princeton Public Library. Monokian is a three time director of The Vagina Monologues as a part of the V Day campaign. Productions he has directed have starred Amy Warren (“August: Osage County”), Briella Calafiore (“Jerseylicious”), Jessica Romano (“Glam Fairy”), Elaine Bromka (“Uncle Buck”), Suzzanne Douglas (“How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” “The Parent ‘Hood”), and Stephaine Roth Haberle (“Phaedra Backwards”). As a writer his theatre journalism work has appeared on “Blog-O-Zines” Insite and Culture Vultures. Staged readings of his original plays Fuckin Breadcrumbs and Sticks, Stones & Other Weapons have been produced at New York’s TADA! Theater and Montclair State University respectively. For more info head to facebook.com/brandonmonokian or follow him on twitter @brandonmonokian

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