The main entrance to the Historic Chicago Temple Building, and to Silk Road Rising.
The main entrance to the Historic Chicago Temple Building, and to 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.[1]

The professional Equity theatre is located in Pierce Hall in lower level of the Chicago Temple Building at 77 West Washington Street, directly across from the Richard J. Daley Center.

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."[2] 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.

The Silk Road Rising logo.
The Silk Road Rising logo.

Silk Road Rising espouses three artistic goals:[3]

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.


The American Theatre Wing awarded Silk Road Rising their National Theatre Company Grant in 2010.[4]

Silk Road Rising's 2011 production of Scorched received three Jeff Awards including Actress in a Supporting Role, Lighting Design and Sound Design.[5]

In 2013, Silk Road Rising received Chicago Sinfonietta's Chairperson's Award for Diversity and Inclusion.[6]

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."[7]

On November 12, 2014 Silk Road Rising was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.[8]

Artistic Director, Jamil Khoury, received the Community Leader Award from the Association for Asian American Studies on April 25, 2015.[9]


Online Video Plays & Documentaries

See also


  1. ^ "Silk Road Theater Project spins a new name". Archived from the original on 2014-08-12.
  2. ^ "Humor Me Some Social Change - News - Silk Road Rising". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.
  3. ^ "Our Company — Silk Road Rising".
  4. ^ BWW News Desk. "American Theatre Wing Announces 2010 National Theatre Company Grants". Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  5. ^ "Jeff awards 2011 Joseph Jefferson Awards Chicago - Chicago Tribune". Archived from the original on 2011-11-11.
  6. ^ "Quarles & Brady Honored with Chairperson's Award for Diversity and Inclusion".
  7. ^ "2013 ChangeMakers | SAALT".
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-10-17. Retrieved 2016-08-01.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Award Winners – Association for Asian American Studies".
  10. ^ Zarris, Venus, Re-Spiced: A Silk Road Cabaret, Chicago Stage Review, 3 May 2012
  11. ^ Walsh, Katy, Night Over Erzinga, Chicago Theatre Beat, 15 October 2012
  12. ^ "Both/and (Short 2011) - IMDb".
  13. ^ "Not Quite White: Arabs, Slavs, and the Contours of Contested Whiteness (Short 2012) - IMDb".
  14. ^ "The Balancing Arab (Short 2012) - IMDb".
  15. ^ "Sacred Stages: A Church, A Theatre, and A Story - Videos / Films - Silk Road Rising". Archived from the original on 2014-04-06.
  16. ^ "Multi Meets Poly: Multiculturalism and Polyculturalism Go on a First Date - Videos / Films - Silk Road Rising". Archived from the original on 2015-01-11.
  17. ^ "Obstacle Course".