Houston Matters

Foreign Policy Career Comes In Handy For Actor In The Alley’s ‘Camp David’

Actor Sam Khazai says his years studying America’s Middle East policy helped him bring authenticity to the story of the historic 1978 peace accords.

Jimmy Carter, Anwar Sadat, Menachem Begin
Egyptian Pres. Anwar Sadat, U.S. Pres. Jimmy Carter, and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

The Alley Theatre’s production of Camp David tells the story of the historic peace accord struck between Israel and Egypt in 1978 with the help of President Jimmy Carter over 13 days at a presidential retreat in Maryland.

Actor Sam Khazai knows a little something about foreign policy having worked in counter terrorism for a national security think tank before giving that up to pursue a career in acting.

Khazai, who plays the Egyptian diplomat Mohammed Ibrahim Kamel, told Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty (in the audio above) what drew him to the story was that it was about peace — as opposed to the multitude of plays, movies, and television shows depicting war.

Actor Sam Khazai
Sam Khazai plays Egyptian diplomat Mohammed Ibrahim Kamel in The Alley Theatre’s Camp David.

“There’s not much out there that’s about peace, and I think that that’s the more important story to tell,” Khazai said. “It’s easy to go around and blow crap up, but it’s harder to reach these really difficult, sought-after peace treaties and to build states and to build nations and to go in and have stable communities.”

He says the script truly captures elements of the peace talks that will appeal to an audience — beyond him and his fellow foreign policy wonks. The play is written by Lawrence Wright, whose book, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007.

MORE: Lawrence Wright Discusses His Play ‘Cleo’ At The Alley

“The script — it was so nuanced and so rich and captured not only the factual timeline of events but also the relationships, which are the most important part of diplomacy,” Khazai said.

Camp David - Jimmy Carter - Alley Theatre
(L-R) Elijah Alexander as Anwar Sadat, Stephen Thorne as Jimmy Carter, and Jordan Lage
as Menachem Begin in The Alley Theatre’s production of Camp David.

Khazai says the years of his life he spent studying America’s Middle East policies helped shape his frame of mind when approaching this performance.

“So, I kind of get a lot of these issues,” he said. “I can drop in. They’re in my heart. They’re in my head. So I think I was able to not have to force that.”

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