Lina Khoury rolls her cigarette and enjoys a cup of coffee before her class. She walks from the gate to Nicol Hall with her curly hair moving with the breeze. She was once an LAU student and today walks on the same campus as an instructor, teaching Art of Theatre.
After she graduated with a BA in communication arts from LAU, Khoury like many others left to the United States where she got an M.F.A in theatre directing from the University of Arkansas.
“In the States, I learned mostly how to deal with theatre as a business and how to build a production. LAU taught me my creative and artistic skills,” she said.
After getting her M.F.A, Khoury directed four professional plays in the United States.
“My plays were a huge success; I got excellent reviews. But I still felt the need to come back to my country,” she said.
When she returned to Beirut, Khoury rolled up her sleeves and got to work directly. She first directed Haki Niswen.
The play included 12 monologues performed by four actresses, each telling a different story. It was one of the most daring plays done in Beirut until this day and it kept running for two years.
“It took me a year and a half to get by censorship, I’m glad it was worth the wait and it kept running for two years,” Khoury said.
In the play, actresses discuss their sexuality and sexual problems openly –breaking what remains a taboo in Lebanese theatre today.
Last semester, Khoury also directed Al Shaghila, a major production that is still praised by the LAU communication arts department and student body.
“Success felt sweeter in my country and in the university where I studied because the people that came to watch were people who were raised in the same country and environment I was raised in,” Khoury explained.
Other plays she directed include Sar Lezim Nihke and How I Learned to Drive.
“Every play I write or direct has a different message and feel to it. The theme and timing of every play is of crucial importance. Why this play and why now, are two questions I constantly ask myself,” she said.
Khoury enjoys teaching something she likes and it is easy to see the difference between her sense of humor in and outside the classroom. She tries her best to hide her laughs when giving a lecture yet, fails to do so after class is done.
“The challenge for me was to separate how to talk to students in and outside the classroom. I am a very friendly person but I know that a line must be drawn in class between the professor and his students,” she said.
Khoury started teaching nine years ago at the American University of Science and Technology and has been teaching at LAU for one year.
“I prefer teaching at LAU because it is my university. I feel that I belong here, in the same theatre where I produced my first play as a student,” she said.
By Mohamad Al Oraybi
LAU Tribune staff