In playing the antagonist for Dublin Coffman High School's latest play, Lana Al-Tamim has to step outside her comfort zone in a couple of significant ways.

First, her character, Tia Tamos, is bigoted against Muslims, a community that Al-Tamim is a part of in her real life.

Second, Al-Tamim's character has to yell at the play's protagonist Amal, who is portrayed by one of her best friends.

Despite those challenges, Al-Tamim said she is happy to show Tia's perspective, if doing so helps the audience understand how wrong a person's beliefs can often be about others.

"It was important for me to be a part of something that really did show the struggles that women who wear the hijab face," said Al-Tamim, a 16-year-old junior.

A hijab is a veil, usually covering a woman's head and chest. It is traditionally worn by some Muslim women when they are in the presence of adult males who are not members of their immediate family

Al-Tamim and other Coffman students are preparing for the school's production of "Does My Head Look Big in This," a play based on a novel by Randa Abdel-Fattah.

The show, the school's first production that focuses on the Muslim community, will start Dec. 1.

Muslim students at Coffman originally brought the novel and play to the attention of Director Dan Stowell.

After reading the play, Stowell said he realized he enjoyed it for a variety of reasons in addition to the fact that the story portrays a quirky Muslim teenager "just dealing with life."

"It's really exciting to have something that allows us to study religion and culture without breaking the law," Stowell said.

For her part, Al-Tamim said she appreciates that the play shows that the main character, Amal Mohammed Nasrullah Abdel-Hakim, decides to wear the hijab of her own freewill.

That decision resonates with Salma Khurshe as well, a 10th grader who plays the role of Simone Washington, Amal's friend.

Khurshe, 15, said she liked how Amal was depicted as religious even before she decided to wear the hijab.

While Khurshe said she's a member of the Muslim community, her character Simone is not. Still, in the play she's supportive of her best friend Amal, Khurshe said.

Lana Edor, a 15-year-old junior, also plays one of Amal's friends, a girl named Leila Okulgen.

Describing the play as a comedy with some serious parts, Edor said she thinks the production was a good choice for Coffman, because it depicts a positive image of the Muslim culture.

Many people hear about Muslims from newscasts and their picture of Muslims might not be as true of a depiction as something that is actually delivered by Muslim students, Edor said.

Edor said members of her mosque were excited and in disbelief that her high school play would focus on Muslim culture.

She has asked them to come see the show, she said.

"Does My Head Look Big in This?" shows at 7 p.m. Dec. 1 and 2 at Coffman. For tickets visit showtix4u.com

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah