Silk Road Rising
Silk Road Rising is a theatre company located in downtown Chicago dedicated to presenting plays written by individuals of Asian and Middle Eastern descent. Formerly known as Silk Road Theatre Project, the name was changed in 2011 in order to better reflect their mission statement which includes online video plays and documentaries, civic engagement projects, and education programming in addition to live theatre.
Silk Road Rising is hosted by the First United Methodist Church upstairs; however, they maintain a secular relationship.
Silk Road Rising was founded in 2002 by life-partners Malik Gillani (a Pakistani Muslim) and Jamil Khoury (a Syrian Orthodox Christian) as a proactive, artistic response to the attacks of September 11, 2001. As Khoury wrote, "First Al Qaeda hijacked Islam, then public anger hijacked our citizenship." As 9-11 second responders, Malik and Jamil set out to use storytelling as a means of challenging the hatred and fanaticism fueling both the attacks, and the backlash that quickly ensued. They work to harness the narratives surrounding Silk Road communities by creating live theatre and online video plays that tell stories through primarily Asian American and Middle Eastern American lenses. By representing communities that intersect and overlap, they advance a polycultural worldview.
Silk Road Rising espouses three artistic goals:
- 1. Advance the creation of and expand access to works of Asian American and Middle Eastern American artists.
- 2. Deepen understanding of Asian and Middle Eastern cultures within the broader community.
- 3. Increase access to resources and provide learning opportunities that allow individuals to explore, express and embrace a broader world view.
Since its founding, Silk Road Rising has collaborated with 58 playwrights to produce 24 plays (11 world premieres, 8 commissioned by Silk Road Rising; 9 Midwest premieres; 4 Chicago premieres) and 50 enhanced staged readings.
On Friday, May 19, 2013, SAALT (South Asian Americans Leading Together) presented its 2013 ChangeMaker Award to Silk Road Rising in honor of Mosque Alert, "launched on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, is a first of its kind online civic engagement and new play development process that illuminates the challenges faced by Muslim Americans when trying to build houses of worship."
- Silk Road Solos: A Festival of Solo Performances
- The Hundred Flowers Project by Christopher Chen
- Brahman/i by Aditi Brennan Kapil
- Pangs of the Messiah by Motti Lerner
- Silk Road Cabaret: Broadway Sings the Silk Road
- 10 Acrobats in an Amazing Leap of Faith by Yussef El Guindi
- Tea by Velina Hasu Houston
- Precious Stones by Jamil Khoury
Online Video Plays & Documentaries
- both/and (2011)
- Not Quite White: Arabs, Slavs and the Contours of Contested Whiteness (2012)
- The Balancing Arab (2012)
- Sacred Stages: a Church, a Theatre, and a Story (2014)
- Multi Meets Poly: Multiculturalism and Polyculturalism Go on a First Date (2015)
- Mosque Alert (ongoing)
- Zarris, Venus, Re-Spiced: A Silk Road Cabaret, Chicago Stage Review, 3 May 2012
- Walsh, Katy, Night Over Erzinga, Chicago Theatre Beat, 15 October 2012
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