EGYPTIAN SONG

Nalal and Zahia are boy/girl twins growing up in rural Egypt in the 1920s. Zahia has a gorgeous singing voice and from an early age sings Nahal to sleep at night. She begins singing at religious ceremonies and word quickly spreads about her voice. The twins are raised by their domineering (but loving) widowed mother. She hopes to marry Zahia to Achmed, son of a local landowner.

Zahia gains a...
Nalal and Zahia are boy/girl twins growing up in rural Egypt in the 1920s. Zahia has a gorgeous singing voice and from an early age sings Nahal to sleep at night. She begins singing at religious ceremonies and word quickly spreads about her voice. The twins are raised by their domineering (but loving) widowed mother. She hopes to marry Zahia to Achmed, son of a local landowner.

Zahia gains a wider following, singing at weddings across the region. Her uncle brings her to the events, where she goes dressed as a boy. Zahia also works in the back of her mother’s store sorting produce. She befriends Hamdy, another worker in the store. While they aren’t allowed to speak, they pass notes. Hamdy provides Zahia with bits of Western magazines, where she’s drawn to images of Josephine Baker.

As Zahia gains attention as a singer, her mother decides that her marriage prospects are more important and forbids her from singing. Zahia is crushed. While she used to confide in her brother Nahal, he’s become more conservative as he aligns himself with the Achmed.

Hamdy invites her on a risky outing to listen to music on a phonograph at a wealthy neighbors’ home. She impulsively agrees. They listen to a Josephine Baker record and dance, chastely. But they are seen coming out of the house.

When Nahal learns what’s happened, his confrontation with his sister lays bare the conflict between their filial bond and his perception of his family’s honor.
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EGYPTIAN SONG

Recommended by

  • Unicorn Theatre:
    28 Mar. 2019
    This play was a FINALIST for the 2017-2018 In-Progress New Play Reading Series at Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri. It is our pleasure to support EGYPTIAN SONG.
  • Kitchen Dog Theater:
    4 Jun. 2017
    We are pleased to support this play! It was a Finalist for the 2017 New Works Festival at Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas, Texas.
  • Eugene O'Neill Theater Center:
    27 Apr. 2016
    It is the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's pleasure to recommend James Christy and their play EGYPTIAN SONG as a finalist for our 2016 National Playwrights Conference. The play rose through a competitive, anonymous, multileveled selection process that took nearly nine months to execute. As one of 54 finalists out of more than 1,450 submissions, the strength of its writing has allowed this work to prosper in such a competitive selection process. Our readers especially appreciated the way the siblings' relationship developed over the play and how the play's intimate theatricality enriched that relationship.

Development History

  • Reading
    ,
    Road Theater Conpany
    ,
    2014
  • Reading
    ,
    Great Plains Theatre Conference
    ,
    2014
  • Reading
    ,
    Interact Theater
    ,
    2012
  • Reading
    ,
    National New Plan Network
    ,
    2012
  • Workshop
    ,
    Premiere Stages
    ,
    2011