Lebanese American University


Powerful music production shines light on stereotypes

Students from different disciplines stage creative and eclectic major music production I Am Not a Terrorist.


In addition to original lyrics and music, the production boasted a creative set design.


Each performer wore a costume that symbolically reflected the various elements enacted in the production, from death and blood to petroleum and detainment.

Symbolism, movement and drama converged with oriental and occidental beats and English and Arabic lyrics on the Irwin Auditorium stage on April 19 and 20 in the LAU major music production “I Am Not a Terrorist.”

Ten students from different majors took to the stage with Assistant Professor Martin Loyato, the creative force behind the production, to present the case against stereotyping Arabs as terrorists. “This message is important to me and definitely drove me as a performer,” said LAU graduate of finance Mohammed Zahzah, who plays the electric guitar and Turkish clarinet during the production.

While Zahzah wore a traditional black Levantine men’s robe during the one-hour performance, others wore unitards of different colors and patterns that symbolized greed, death and petroleum.

Biology major Majd Khiami sang a song about oil and war in a deep crisp voice while dressed to reflect greed before changing into an orange jumpsuit, as worn by illegally detained suspected terrorists. “This was an exhilarating experience,” said Khiami of his first public performance. “I think there’s a huge and important connection between the sciences and the arts and, regardless of my major, I want to engage as much as possible in all the creative courses and initiatives LAU has to offer,” added the pre-med student.

The Department of Communications Arts has certainly been offering an increasing number of opportunities for such artistic engagement in recent months. “We have new faculty members, more resources and partnerships and a commitment to focusing on a culture of collaboration and continuous betterment,” explains Department Chair Jad Melki.

Working together with his students to put on an integrative and inspiring performance is something Loyato has done each year since joining LAU in 2014. “It’s always challenging, and this year all the music was original, written especially to reflect and highlight the message of the production,” he says. “At least three of my students have been denied visas to the U.S. or Europe. This isn’t just entertainment. We’re reflecting a problem that impacts this community.”

Second-year journalism student Sandra Azki agrees. The theme of terrorist stereotypes, she says, touches her personally. She also welcomed the opportunity to work with Loyato again, having performed with him in last year’s major music production. “It’s hard work, we were up until 4 a.m. last night, but it’s invigorating,” says Azki, who composed and performed a rap in Arabic about not being a terrorist.

In addition to original lyrics and music, the production boasts a unique set design. While some performers sit, stand and dance on the main stage, others play their instruments at different levels off the ground behind a large white canvas onto which video images and words are projected.

The images complement the powerful music and movement in an eclectic show, something for which the communication arts department, its faculty and students are becoming increasingly well known.

Communication Arts students at LAU express pride in their department’s mission to #ReinventCommunication 

Watch full video: http://comm.lau.edu.lb 





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