The story of Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp is a very old one. Some people think that it is based upon a folk tale of ancient Chinese origin; but most think of it as a part of a larger piece of literature called The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (also known as The Arabian Nights). It’s also believed that the story of Aladdin was not part of the original one thousand and one nights’ tales, but was actually added to the collection by another author at a later time. Whichever is true, it’s considered to be one of the most well-known folk stories of all time.
Aladdin’s story has been translated into many languages, with many adaptations having been made along the way. But, no matter the language, the basic story is the same: Aladdin is a poor boy, living in the middle of a city. He gets himself into a little trouble, and is going to be taken away, when a man appears and offers to help him. After getting Aladdin out of trouble, the man asks for a favor in return. He asks Aladdin to go to a cave to retrieve some property belonging to him: an ancient lamp. Aladdin agrees, and accomplishes the task—only to find himself trapped in the cave. Upon seeing some writing on the lamp, he rubs its surface to read the writing and, in doing so, reveals a genie with magic powers who has been trapped inside the lamp. The genie tells Aladdin he has three wishes, but to use them wisely. Through the use of his three wishes, Aladdin succeeds in gaining the hand of a beautiful princess, and becomes the sultan of the land.
The illustration above shows the character of Aladdin in a different type of clothing, and in a different setting than we might expect him to be placed. That’s because of the artist’s interpretation of the story as they know it. Like the other versions of tales we’ve mentioned, Disney has told of Aladdin in many ways—in animation, live action, and on stage, as a musical. Take the tale of Aladdin, and create your own version. Try changing the location (New York City?); re-write the main character a little (could Aladdin be a girl?); maybe even change up who holds the magic powers (the genie has lost his? Or hers?).
As always, have fun! Imagine! Make an old story new again! But, first and foremost, make it YOUR OWN! There should be limits to what you can imagine!
***If you’d like some additional inspiration, take a look at these resources, developed by the Disney Theatricals organization! (PLEASE check with your parents before connecting to any link online!)