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.
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." 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:
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.
Silk Road Rising's 2011 production of Scorched received three Jeff Awards including Actress in a Supporting Role, Lighting Design and Sound Design.
In 2013, Silk Road Rising received Chicago Sinfonietta's Chairperson's Award for Diversity and Inclusion.
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."
On November 12, 2014 Silk Road Rising was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.
Artistic Director, Jamil Khoury, received the Community Leader Award from the Association for Asian American Studies on April 25, 2015.
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