"The thing about stereotypes is there's always a grain of truth in them. That's why they're so insidious," said Seattle-based playwright Yussef El Guindi, whose newest work about Arab-Americans begins performances Thursday in a production by Silk Road Theatre Project.
Writing with a satirical edge, El Guindi incorporates swaths of irony-laced humor into "Our Enemies: Lively Scenes of Love and Combat," which focuses on the ways in which modern-day Arabs and Muslims are portrayed in the American mainstream media.
The play centers on three young Arab-American writers and their conflicting views about whether or not it is damaging to acknowledge -- in public -- certain problems within their community.
"How do you air dirty laundry without one's dirty laundry being used against you?" El Guindi said during a trip to Chicago before the play's opening.
"It perpetuates a certain stereotype -- like Arabs are prone to violence, they're backward, they keep their women down, they're oppressive, they have no democracy -- all true. But that is one layer of a thousand-layer portrait."
On the flip side, denying that there are problems is insincere. "If you won't name it because of what other people are going to think, then how are we helping ourselves?" said Jamil Khoury, Silk Road's artistic director. (MORE)