"The Viziers of Bassora" A Dramatic Romance by Sri Aurobindo
Staged at Sri Aurobindo Auditorium in Auroville
Saturday, Sunday and Monday Evening 14th, 15th and 16th of December at 7 pm
This play seems to have been written by Sri Aurobindo sometime in 1905-6, during his stay in Baroda. The manuscript was seized by the police when he was arrested in 1908, and was considered lost until it was discovered in a cupboard and given to the Ashram many years later, after 1950.
The source of the plot of The Viziers of Bassora is one of the numerous stories told in The Arabian Nights entitled, "Nur al-Din Ali and the Damsel Anis al-Jalis". The dualities that govern the lives of humans are played out: love and hate, self-giving and egoism, good and evil, high religious values and base desires, ambition and hypocrisy.
The action takes place mainly in Bassora and Baghdad in the second half of the 8th century, at the time of the historical Caliph, Harun al Rashid, known as Harun the Just. This was a time of great achievements in the Arabic world, and the Baghdad of Harun was considered a city of great beauty, where respect and fairness for all governed the law.
Human love in its high aspects of self-giving and pure joy is shown through Nureddene and Anice-Aljalice, the young couple whose love for each other traverses many troubles and difficulties, to triumph over all adversity in the end. It is a tale, a fairy-tale, with moments of drama and suspense, as well as those of mirth, laughter and lightness.
With this play we aspire to highlight some aspects of the beauty and refinement of both the life and feelings that are so deeply rooted in the history and culture of the Arabian people.
The Viziers of Bassora will be performed at the Sri Aurobindo Auditorium on Saturday, Sunday and Monday: the 14th, 15th and 16th of December at 7 pm.
A summary of the play
The Viziers Of Bassora
For many of us the Arabian Nights was part of the literature that most nourished the dreams and fantasies of our childhood. "The Thousand and One Nights" peopled our imaginations in its many versions and many abridgments.
Sri Aurobindo, too, was well acquainted with this fabulous collection of stories. The tale of "Nur al-Din Ali and the Damsel Anis al-Jalis", though one of the lesser known, was the tale Sri Aurobindo chose to illustrate some aspects of a higher standard of human love and sacrifice, of religiosity, morality and ethics along side the dualities of hate and selfishness, hypocrisy and deep-rooted ambition.
All this becomes a fairy tale in Sri Aurobindo's version: full of humour and joy, and well-balanced with the necessary tension and antagonism that go into building up a story.
Good and evil are well represented in the two Viziers: the good Ibn Sawy, and the bad Almuene. Their sons respectively mirror their fathers in character and behaviour.