The Balancing Arab / by R. Sheth

(14 min, 59 sec)

Written by Jamil Khoury
Directed by Anne Jacques

Release Date

September 11, 2012

Premiere Venue

Pierce Hall at The Historic Chicago Temple Building, 77 W Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602

"The Balancing Arab" tells the story of Heidi (played by Leslie Frame), an Irish American personal fitness trainer, and Hanan (played by Amira Sabbagh), her once morbidly obese Arab American client. Set in a downtown Chicago gym amidst a strenuous training session, the mood turns tense as the two women recount an event at the Arab American Cultural Center a few nights earlier, an event at which the evening’s political discourse got filtered through decidedly different lenses. 

"The Balancing Arab" explores tensions that exist within and between political cultures and the challenges of messaging that gets stranded in context and lost in translation.

Playwright Jamil Khoury has dedicated "The Balancing Arab" to skilled personal fitness trainers - the unsung heroes of American health care and preventative medicine. Although entirely fictional, "The Balancing Arab" was inspired, in part, by Khoury’s weight loss of over a hundred pounds and his reversal of type two diabetes and gout arthritis, as well as political conversations with his personal trainer and a lifetime of involvement in the Arab American community.



Leslie Frame | Heidi

Amira Sabbagh | Hanan


Production Team

Jamil Khoury

Assistant Director 
Deann Baker

Director of Photography 
Drew Pientka

Deann Baker

Tim Stotz

Anne Jacques

Production Manager 
Caitlin Duerinck

Assistant Camera 
Jesse Hibbs

Script Supervisor 
Elias Feghaly

Props Master 
Jesse Gaffney

Producer Level Donors 
Karen Atwood
Sheila Chapman
Geeta Citygirl
Jo Anne Davis

Executive Producers 
Malik Gillani
Jamil Khoury

Original Score and Sound 
Peter J. Storms

Sound Mixer 
Jason Ssg

Make Up and Hair 
Lydia Pligge

Athletic Consultant 
Andrew James Preston