"Jason Grote is one of a generation of brainy new American dramatists — including Tracy Letts and Will Eno — who understand that to reach new audiences, political theater needs to move beyond moral indignation and outrage, past spoon-feeding an attitude. One key to going forward is looking backward into literature, fable and allegory."
"The scribe lives up to this billing with a first-rate drama of his own... Like Ali Baba's famous passwords, 'Open sesame,' Grote's fertile imagination rolls back the stone guarding a treasure-trove of exotic language and romantic subject matter from such diverse stories as Aladdin and Sinbad and spreads a cornucopia of glittering ideas and magical effects... Thirty-one economical scenes punctuated by stunning craft work lend a quick-cutting, cinematic texture that suggests possible adaptability to the bigscreen."
"...a wild and beautiful glimpse at the yarns that shape our lives... Even if it isn't always true, the story we keep telling -- about the power of love, violence, and death -- is a comfort. Grote tackles that concept with gripping imagination, achieving a cosmic scope by eliminating the barriers between worlds."
"Certainties shatter in a more spectacular fashion in the festival's most intriguing production, the display of postmodern pyrotechnics that is '1001...' Grote's Orientalist fantasia... conjures a storybook world that dissolves, at a moment's notice, into an apocalyptic, 21st-century landscape. Where to begin to describe this seductive if smart-alecky, nonlinear play? ...['1001'] doesn't preach, and it doesn't underestimate the audience's intelligence. 'As usual, I obscure more than I illuminate,' Grote has [Jorge Luis] Borges observe at one point. As a philosophy of political theater, that wouldn't be half-bad."
"What, one wonders, would [Islamic fundamentalists] think of '1001,' playwright Jason Grote's funny, moving, postmodernist-in-a-good-way take on 'The Arabian Nights'? The play... flashes back and forth between a very contemporary New York love story (involving an Arab woman and a Jewish man) and the classic Persian fable of Scheherazade. Like Scheherazade's tales, '1001' is endlessly compelling, and also endless (again, in a good way)..."
"There once was, praise Allah, a Jason Grote. This Grote lived in the utmost wilderness (a/k/a Brooklyn) where he read many authors—Benjamin, Said, Borges, Gramsci—and watched many videos—Vertigo, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Thriller. One day, he combined these various influences into a play, loosely based on Sir Richard Burton's Arabian Nights. Grote called this play 1001."
"The mother of all storytellers, Scheherazade is the central character in “1001” but she doesn’t stay Scheherazade for long. In Jason Grote’s kaleidoscopic reinvention of the “1001 Nights” tales, she morphs into Dahna, a contemporary Palestinian graduate student in New York, just as Scheherazade’s husband, the wife-killing Shahriyar, becomes Dahna’s Jewish boyfriend, Alan, and her sister Dunyazade becomes Dahna’s sister, Lubna. Moving fluently back and forth from the “Arabian Nights” of legend (complete with jeweled turbans and scimitars) to New York in a dusty, apocalyptic near-future, these stories within stories come to include Flaubert during his wild-oats days in Egypt and even a cameo appearance by Jorge Luis Borges, the master of labyrinthine fictions."
"The first production to come out of Denver Center Theatre Company's New Play Summit is a riot of ideas, experiences and influences... 1001 brings forth a thrilling night in the theater, one in which the senses and the mind race... Like Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman, also at DCTC, 1001 is an embrace of storytelling, but one far more artful and creative in form and content."
"Through the filter of the ideas of Edward Saïd, and the wordplay of Jorge Luis Borges (whose ghost makes a cameo), the cast of six takes on the roles of 27 characters that beg the question, "What are any of us, but a collection of stories?" Through these interchanging roles, the equally elaborate and understated costumes, and subtle video projections, the tales readily consume the audience."
"Grote explores some sophisticated questions — most notably how do Americans rewrite and retell our own Arabic narratives in the post-Sept. 11 world? Furthermore, how can we trust a history — with no "true" referent — that changes with every retelling? (Thankfully, no answers are ever provided.)"
"Though it purposefully obliterates conventions of the so-called 'well made play,' this is no pretentious, high-art instillation. It's more like Monty Python does 'The Arabian Nights.' Yet, that's much too limiting a description. '1001' is exhilarating and terrifying, silly and beautiful — a dizzying smorgasbord of stories, characters and locales... '1001's' genius is that it draws on so many different styles and motifs, textures and rhythms, to tell its stories."
"And in Dahna and Alan’s story—echoed by, and an echo of, the story of Shahriyar and Scheherazade—we see a contemporary iteration of the ageless struggle that pervades 1001—the fight to define ourselves and our world in the face of powers that want to thrust their definitions onto (and into) us. Description, in itself, is power, 1001 seems to say. History, culture and identity are stories we tell ourselves and others tell about us, and they will be spun forever. That’s as “true” as reality gets. Those that want to fix ideas in place, or define the world strictly, may be the least connected to reality of all."
"Even if you have no clue what's going on, you're in for an accessible, almost out-of-body theatrical experience, one where meaning is incidental to your visceral response. But the more effort you put into '1001,' the more it gives back."
"This entertaining, politically relevant spin on the Arabian Nights uses a stories within stories approach that explores the possibility of the healing redemption of a good narrative. Confronting Kipling's assertion that "east is east and west is west, and never the twain shall meet," Grote has west meet east to find that they share a common story. The question posed: What will the east and west do with this common story?"
"The richness and diversity of the material in this production makes one wish for a few spin-offs. However, 1001 Nights [sic] stands alone like an exotic dish with many mysterious and spicy ingredients proudly fending off its contenders on a conventional buffet."
"Here, in ranking order, are the top 10 local productions of the year, and heartfelt thanks to those who made them. 1. 1001, Denver Center Theatre Company: Theater can be thoughtful or moving or inspiring. Jason Grote's play made it thrilling... In a kaleidoscope of sensation, it showed what theater can do better than anything else.'
"Best Theatrical Mashup Moment: Bravo to the Denver Center Theatre Company for taking on Jason Grote's epic "1001" (a play some thought was unstagable), and kudos to the play's creative team for bringing the sprawling re-telling of "The Arabian Nights" tales to life."
"Grote is an intelligent, deep-thinking playwright who is looking for new forms to fit the bold, original things he wants to say. How lucky for us that DCTC artistic director Kent Thompson decided to have him say them here."
"Grote's structure, in effect, moves through two dimensions. The first is the "flat" world of multiple threads, which it shares with tessellations and interpolations. The second though is a dimension of loops and tunnels in which the sense of forward motion (what would traditionally be called "action") derives not from narrative but meta-narrative. Introducing this second dimension frees the structure from having to traverse all the points in a thread; the thread need only establish certain points, which can be traversed in non-narrative, a-temporal.5 sequences. (Grote's piece actually introduces a refinement of this notion by returning, at the end, to a variant of Alan & Dahna Part 4—maybe a third dimension??) Looping and tunneling circumvent the requirement that stories cannot be abandoned. The experience of the piece depends less on the information in the threads themselves than on the pattern of their traversal."
"The play is a series of nested dolls, with each story opening up into a new one before it can conclude, like in A Thousand Nights and A Night or Italo Calvino's If On A Winter's Night a Traveler. Few writers really try this format. It's hard to get right (my vote for one obscure writer who gets it would be Patrick O'Leary in his fantasy novel The Gift). The self-referentiality can be a bit bewildering, and rather conventional mores about how to properly satisfy a reader I'm sure are hard to fight against."
"['1001'] could easily become the hit of CATF's 2007 season. Theatergoers expecting a linear plot will come up empty-handed. Like Blake's 'Mental Traveller' or Joyce's Leopold Bloom, '1001' investigates the human condition like a freely associative time machine... '1001' is heady stuff, leavening cosmic questions with unexpected bursts of off-the-wall humor. Juicy comedic bits include.. a first-ever George Bush gag that will have both sides of the political aisle collapsing in laughter."
"The play itself is rich, imaginative and rewarding. It constructs worlds within worlds and stories within stories. It delves into the clashes and resonances between tradition and modernity, projecting those themes onto Islam, New York, sex and storytelling. Its structure wraps around to consume itself like a snake eating its own tail."
"Grote... is something of a Scheherazade himself, spinning an intricate web of tales that reaches from medieval Persia to New York on the day before yesterday. This is a kind of theatrical page-turner, and I defy you not to get caught up it."
"...Why did I choose theatre? Tonight, Kelly and I went to go see Jason Grote's new play 1001. Without making this a review, I'll say that the play, produced by Page 73 Productions, reminded me of one of my reasons. It's something that's unique to theatre -- the ability to manipulate a space, and therefore an audience, over time in order to tell a story."
"WHAT A NIGHT! I don't know how to quite describe it, but I will say it is a piece that makes you realize the things live theatre can do that film can't... If you can get to Shepherdstown, West Virginia (about 2 hours out of DC) then by all means do."
"I loved the way the script evolved in completely unexpected directions and opened effortlessly into deeper and deeper storylines-- there is something so natural and organic about it. It will stay with you a long time. You can't figure it all out sitting there, you have to work some of it out in your head on the walk home- and that is a marvelous achievement... [and] the perception shift that happens about halfway through when you think you finally know what the hell is going on. Then all the other little perception shifts when you decide you were right, you weren't right, right again, well, maybe it's more like this and then 'ah ha!, I get it!' That's good writing."
"Jason Grote’s 1001 is an enchanting theatrical palimpsest of Tales from the Arabian Nights and Scheherazade, ethnic New Yorkers in the aftermath of 9/11, the centuries-old clash of East and West in the Holy Land, and a little bit of Alfred Hitchcock and the video for Michael Jackson’s 'Thriller.'"
"The real excitement in 1001, however, comes from watching Grote construct a plot through transhistorical hyperlinks (it’s no wonder that one of his most effective scenes takes place in an Internet chatroom). While steeped in literary tradition, Grote’s structure captures a feeling of political and information vertigo unique to our globalized era. In a theatrical culture increasingly out of touch with contemporary life, that’s a story worth celebrating."
"Kawaisoo is a literate and eloquent dissertation on what it is like to live in contemporary America... Jason Grote, the playwright, doesn't attack us for the 'monocultural virus' that is our pattern of consumption. If anything, he celebrates the trip to the supermarket as one of the only authentic experiences we have left."