Cover girl: New play explores beauty tips for hijab-wearing women

Cover girl: New play explores beauty tips for hijab-wearing women

Muslim or not, she’s got you covered!

A Williamsburg playwright will launch her new show about history, religion, and eyeshadow at the Five Myles Gallery in Crown Heights on Jan. 11. The writer of “The Art of Hijab, Kohl Black, and the Right Way to Pray,” was inspired by Muslim YouTube beauty gurus who wear hijabs — modest veils that cover the hair and neck — and her show juxtaposes their online beauty rituals with their real-life religious rituals.

“A lot of women out there who do these making hijab-styling tutorials, are showing the duality of rituals with beauty, and I was curious to how they fit this into their daily lives compared to their religious rituals,” said Sarah Badiyah Sakaan.

Sakaan said that she stumbled across one of these tutorial videos three years ago, and instantly became curious about its creator.

“I found this amazing world of YouTube beauty rituals and I fell down a rabbit hole on hijab styling for Muslim women,” she said.

Sakaan, who is of Syrian descent, said that she was also inspired by her experiences growing up in a mixed Muslim and Unitarian Universalist household in the Bible Belt.

“My dad is from Syria and my mom is from Memphis and is also Christian, so I went to the mosque and Christian church and I had a lot of Jewish friends,” she said.

The 90-minute playfollows two young women based on Sakaan and her sister, but interposes their lives with scenes from the Koran, the Torah, and the Bible, depicting the founding of each religion. But despite the subject matter, the show does not take itself too seriously, said Sakaan.

“I think it’s remarkable how funny this play is,” she said.

Some of the show’s makeup tips can be useful for either gender. Kohl black eyeliner, for instance, was often worn by men in the Middle East, including the Prophet Muhammad. The six-member cast includes male, female, and transgender actors wearing the hijab, but Sakaan says that she is not courting controversy, just using actors in the best way she can.

“I don’t think it’s problematic to play it up. We have male characters playing women, and women playing men, and one transgender actor playing both,” said Sakaan.

She wants her play to show the common ground between people of different religious groups, she said.

“I hope people have an understanding of the similarities and see that we have a lot in common instead of things that tear us apart,” said Sakaan.

“The Art of Hijab, Kohl Black and the Right Way to Pray,” at Five Myles Gallery [558 St. Johns Pl. between Franklin and Classon avenues in Crown Heights. (718) 783–4438, www.fivemyles.org]. Jan. 11–14 and Jan. 17–21 at 8 pm. Matinee shows at 2 pm on Jan. 12 and Jan. 20. $18.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com.

More from Around New York