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Posted: Tuesday November 3, 2015
“It’s called a hijab.” “Oh. Do you wear it all the time?” (A Scene from Jabber)

High school, like no other social space, throws together people of all histories and backgrounds, and young people must decide what they believe in and how far they are willing to go to defend their beliefs. Inside a veritable pressure cooker, they negotiate cross-cultural respect and mutual understanding. Marcus Youssef’s latest play, for and about young adults, is Jabber, and it does its part to challenge appearances – and the judgments people make based on those appearances.

Like many outgoing young women, Fatima feels rebellious against parents she sees as strict. It just so happens that she is Egyptian-born and wears a hijab. When anti-Muslim graffiti appears on the walls of her school, Fatima transfers to a new school. The guidance counsellor there, Mr. E., does his best to help Fatima fit in, but despite his advice she starts an unlikely friendship with Jorah, who has a reputation for anger issues. Maybe, just maybe, Fatima and Jorah start to, like, like each other …

Jabber is available now for $16.95.

Below, read part of the scene in which Fatima and Jorah meet for the first time (Scene 4, from pages 13–17).


SCENE 4
COUNSELLOR’S OFFICE, WAITING

JORAH enters. FATIMA waits.

JORAH
Where’s Evans?

FATIMA
I don’t know.

JORAH
Of course.

He sits.

FATIMA
How’s your butt?

JORAH
Fine. Oh. (gesturing to her scarf) Are you allowed to say “butt”?

FATIMA
I just did.

JORAH
You’re new.

FATIMA
Yeah.

JORAH
If you’re planning on blowing up the school, I’m in.

FATIMA
Excuse me?

JORAH
A lot of kids would thank you. You’d be a hero. You know what? I’ll help. I’m ready. Just give me the signal. Nobody’ll suspect me cuz I don’t look like a terrorist.

FATIMA
Like me.

Beat.

JORAH
I’m just kidding around.

FATIMA
Ha ha.

JORAH
I shouldn’t even joke about blowing up the school. They probably have microphones in here. Get myself locked down.

FATIMA
Yeah.

JORAH
What’s your name?

FATIMA ignores him.

JORAH
Oh, I get it. You don’t want to blow your cover.

FATIMA
Sorry?

JORAH
You’d be a crap terrorist if you told people your real name. It’s cool.

FATIMA
Ha ha. Fatima.

JORAH
Fatima.

FATIMA
Yeah.

JORAH
Mind if I call you Fat?

FATIMA
No. Mind if I call you a-hole?

JORAH
That’s funny.

FATIMA
Thank you. I get to say it a lot.

JORAH
“A-hole.”

FATIMA
What?

JORAH
Nothing.

FATIMA
You think because I’m Muslim, I can’t swear?

JORAH
A-hole’s not exactly a swear. You got, like, some wicked forehead zits? Covering up some major pus bombs? That why you got the head thing?

FATIMA
My scarf?

JORAH
Yeah.

FATIMA
It’s part of my religion.

JORAH
It’s called a Taliban, right?

FATIMA
Taliban? Oh my God. Now that’s funny.

JORAH
What?

FATIMA
Taliban are the guys who are fighting in Afghanistan. It’s called a hijab.

JORAH
Oh. Do you wear it all the time? I’m just asking.

FATIMA
Yes. Sort of.

JORAH
In the shower?

FATIMA
No.

JORAH
In bed?

FATIMA
I only have to wear it in public. I don’t wear it at home.

JORAH
Is it to stop you from turning guys on?

FATIMA
Oh my God.

JORAH
Isn’t that it?

FATIMA
It’s to show humility. Before God.

JORAH
Is it, like, those Taliban guys might think you’re so hot, they’d see your hair and just, like, lose control? I saw this old Chuck Norris movie where they catch a bad, like, Muslim Taliban dude and tie him up and force bacon down his throat. It was pretty funny.

FATIMA
Huh. I saw this movie once about this dumb white boy who talked about a lot of crap he wasn’t smart enough to understand. Oh hang on, that wasn’t a movie. That’s what’s happening right now.

EVANS enters.

EVANS
Sorry, I’m late. I trust Jorah is behaving.

FATIMA
Not really.