‘Khamaseen’ play dispels stereotypes about Egypt

An actor crosses the stage during a scene transition in the play Khamaseen performed at the Russel Miller Theater in FAC.

Will Kotheimer

While living in Cairo for four years, Tom Coash discovered there were lots of untrue stereotypes about the Middle East.

Coash, currently an artist-in-residence at WKU, said he decided to write a play to counter these myths.

The result is “Khamaseen,” a play that presents the story of Donna, an American woman who is trapped in an abusive marriage and resides in a foreign culture she is told to fear, and how her character changes and emerges from that.

Lawrenceburg junior Molly Kays plays Donna.

“I think at first glance it’s easy to see her as a victim but behind all that she is very strong,” Kays said.

Donna is in Egypt because of her husband’s job, but she feels isolated from the culture, so she befriends her Egyptian maid Helwa, played by Hannah Carmona, a sophomore from Clarksville, Tenn.

As the two women spend time together by folding clothes, shopping and speaking broken versions of each other’s languages, they form a bond of friendship that empowers Donna.

Carmona said she had to learn a lot of Arabic for the role, and she also had to perfect cultural things like hand gestures and not showing her ankles.

“I did a lot of Egyptian research, and I watched YouTube videos for the accent,” she said.

Princeton freshman Marion Murray said she thought breaking stereotypes was one of the strengths of the play.

She said people may think Egypt is dangerous, but the character learns it’s not that way.

Coash said showing Egyptians in a positive light was one of the goals of the play.

“The people are the friendliest people in the world,” said Coash. “They are very much about you’re a guest in their country, and they treat you well.”

The last performance of the play will be tonight in the Russell Miller theatre in FAC at 8. It costs $11 for adults and $9 for students.