Terrorists on Screen, Actors on Stage: Stereotyping Arabs and the Cinema Industry in Contemporary Arab-American Theatre


  • Cinzia Schiavini University of Milan




Arab, Arab-American theatre, American Cinema, 9/11


This essay investigates the relationship between the representation of Arab Americans, Arab-American cinema, and the cinema industry as a topic in contemporary theatre through the perspective of Arab-American stage performers and playwrights. As a response to the resurgence of stereotypes and the binary representation of the Good vs Bad Muslim in cinema and TV after 9/11, Arab-American playwrights have used the stage to counter-react to ignorance and prejudice by narrating the everyday struggles of Arab-American artists—and actors in particular—against the over-simplifications and requests of the blockbuster cinema industry. In particular the focus will be on two plays: Jihad Jones and the Kalashnikov Babes (2014) by Youssef El Guindi, and Browntown (2004) by Sam Younis. Both plays question mainstream culture and prejudices through humorous representations of the role of Arab-American artists within the cinema industry and their struggle for visibility beyond the terrorist mask.

Author Biography

Cinzia Schiavini, University of Milan

Cinzia Schiavini Cinzia Schiavini is Adjunct Professor of American Literature (RTD-B) at the Università degli Studi di Milano. She is the author of Strade D’America. L’autobiografia di viaggio statunitense contemporanea, 2011; and Leggere Twain, 2013. She has published on 19th Century American literature, Nature and Life writing. Her current research is on contemporary Arab-American theatre and culture, with a special focus on the post 9/11 turn.


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