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Silk Road Rising

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Cultural & Ethnic Awareness, International, Promotion of International Understanding, Theater

Mission: Silk Road Rising creates live theatre and online videos that tell stories through primarily Asian American and Middle Eastern American lenses. In representing communities that intersect and overlap, we advance a polycultural worldview.

Community Stories

70 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This visionary group brings awareness to an expanding, international community with:

Integrity, Justice, Tackling Issues, Outreach, New Perspectives, Boldness, Leaping Borders,
Building Bridges
Education, Enlightening,
Giving Voice

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have taught for Silk Road Rising's education program called Empathic Playwriting Intensive Course (EPIC) for 4 years now and I love working with this company! They always make me feel valued, supported, and appreciated! They bring stories to Chicago that most other companies never do.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

In the past three years I have been fortunate enough to be part of Silk Road Rising's EPIC team of Teaching Artists- and I feel so grateful to be part of their network. From a fourth grade playwriting class on the South Side of Chicago, a summer program for high school students being exposed to theatre on the North Side of Chicago, to a virtual playwriting class for English-Language Learners for adults- Silk Road Rising continues to make a tremendous positive impact to every different community it touches. Through giving students from all ages and backgrounds the tools to tell stories- the EPIC curriculum uplifts so many lives. People who never explored the power in sharing their voice, leave feeling validated and important through the work that Silk Road Rising directly provides. They are truly a team committed to "talking the talk" through their important well-respected productions that captivate so many audiences in Chicago while also "walking the walk" of their mission in classrooms all over the city.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Jamil and Malik and everyone I've encountered in the Silk Road Rising family embrace their mission and diligently and creatively work toward broadening understanding about ways faith, life, and culture intersect. SRR helps me feel more closely connected with people I thought were vastly different from myself, and have enabled me to realize, through their myriad creative projects and ways of storytelling, that there is more to love about the world than to fear.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Silk Road Rising is a place where diverse communities can feel at home, can debate, create and develop artistically. It is a place where bonds are made, where ideas are nourished and where theatre, art and poetry are given a stage to reflect the richness of all the cultures that Silk Road Rising represent. It is a place where fantastic thought-provoking rich theatre gets made, but beyond that, it is the place where theatre serves and speaks directly to the communities it represents in an evolving dialogue that addresses our Otherness and sameness.

Silk Road Rising helped many superb playwrights and artists start their careers and nurtured them throughout the way. It gave stage to voices that were otherwise considered marginal. In that regard, it really paved the way for the other diverse theatres in Chicago scene to take space.

It innovated the way theatre is made and consumed by developing its online content since 2012, long before the Covid pandemic. It was innovative then and ahead of its time, and it continues to be. By doing that, it reached many individuals and communities who wouldn't (or couldn't) traditionally access theatre beyond the confines of 4 walls or national borders.

It is no exaggeration to say that Silk Road Rising is a place where magic happens.

Marina B.1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Silk Road Rising is an incredible organization. In addition to creating great theatre, they are actively involved in building and facilitating community both within their walls and in the surrounding Chicago neighborhoods.

As a former professor and current PhD student specializing in Arab Theatre, Silk Road Rising has been instrumental in my work. Early on, as I began my research, I kept seeing references to Silk Road Rising, again and again. Then the anthology Four Arab American Plays came out (with an amazing Afterword by Founding Artistic Director Jamil Khoury) and two plays that premiered at Silk Road, and my trajectory as a scholar and theatre practitioner suddenly shifted. New possibilities began to arise because I now had texts I could use to teach. Many books have followed suit, each owing something to Silk Road Rising.

Silk Road Rising has exposed so many people, my theatre students included to experiences that shatter their stereotypes of Middle Eastern peoples. SRR has allowed my students of Middle Eastern heritage to get to see and imagine themselves, in all their intersectionality, living on stage. Middle Eastern Americans are finally being represented in ways that ring truthful and complex. Silk Road Rising’s contributions to that representation have been innumerable.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Silk Road Rising feels like my artistic family and I always look forward to opportunities to work with this company. They treat their artists with compassion and care, and the administration is deeply generous with their time, attention, and resources. The company has also forged strong bonds with its greater Chicago community of artists & audiences, and is truly doing the work to ensure that its artistic output is aligned with what the community needs. I’m proud of the company’s approach and ethos and I recommend Silk Road Rising in the highest of terms.

Donor

Rating: 5

Through multimodality programs, Silk Road Rising (SRR) provides a uniquely accessible space and experience for a diversity of people in the Chicago area and beyond. SRR also builds relationships and collaborations with scholars and artists of different perspectives, and as a result, creates cutting-edge artistic productions.

Fouad T.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Although I am now an associate artist of Silk Road Rising (SRR), my connection to the organization started several years earlier as an audience member. Every theater organization has a mission, and a mission statement, that it uses to guide its programing and activities. Silk Road Rising actually "lives" its mission in every aspect of the word. Not only does it provide the programming that supports its mission, but it also transcends the direct experience resulting from the plays and events by creating a culturally inspired atmosphere that explores the numerous ideas, dilemmas, conflicts, and cultural idiosyncrasies that they evoke. There is an ideological continuum that lives in the "mind" of the organization and spans over multiple productions and multiple seasons. It continues to live in discussion, discourse, and debate for several years. Perhaps an important factor that contributes to this phenomenon, beyond the clever and scrutinizing eye of the programmer that made the selections in the first place, is the loyalty of the audience. In my experience, a sizable portion of those who attend Silk Road Rising events are "regulars" who keep returning to the space for more of the cultural experience and discourse they so much enjoy. In doing so, they keep bringing newcomers from among their acquaintances, and the plays themselves keep attracting new patrons, previously unaware of the organization, that join in the discourse and enrich the conversation. This continual expansion to newer clientele along with the steadfast loyalty of the devoted followers ensures that the ideology never stagnates, but rather continues to evolve and thrive as it educates and entertains the constituency. I find that the strongest testimony to my statements here is what I consistently hear from audience members and artists alike as they call SRR their cultural/artistic "home". The atmosphere I described above, created by the organization, is so welcoming, engaging, and inclusive that it invites every person involved to feel transported to a different world where the adversities of the outer world cease to exist for a few hours, where being different is encouraged and celebrated, and where the human experience blooms.
My journey with SRR started over the past two decades. I found myself always engaged, always contributing to discussion, and excited to volunteer and help. As my craft continued to grow and evolve in parallel, the organization also noticed me and my work. I have had the honor to work with SRR artists and professionals on several projects related to my cultural background where I acted as a consultant and/or collaborator. I always admired the respect the organization displays for cultures we often call "other", and the depth of engagement it practices in preserving the original valuation of ideas and norms belonging to those. The culmination of my experience with SRR came in the fall of 2019 when my play "Twice, Thrice, Frice..." was produced. The care and support the organization provided to the process and all the artists involved by far surpassed my dreams. They not only wanted to mount this work, they wanted it to have the societal impact it was attempting to make. The few months I spent at SRR working with world-class artists on producing this play rank near the top of any experiences I have handing my life. I am so thankful for everything Silk Road Rising has given me, especially the opportunity to call it "home".

Silk Road Rising aims to engage the Chicago community in a diverse cultural exchange designed to make us aware of each other's worlds, and it does so to perfection.

Michael Malek N.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Silk Road Rising is a great nonprofit theatre. This company, which represents a dazzling array of theatre artists with heritages from East Asia to the Middle East, has brought countless important stories to Chicago stages, to internet platforms, and to community centers. Their work has embraced so many communities, changed so many artists' lives, and has uplifted so many great American playwrights. This company deserves far more attention and funding than it receives. Unfortunately, in an American theatre that is more concerned with staging Shakespearean plays and large, flashy musicals, companies like Silk Road Rising are often left with less funding and smaller audiences than they deserve. It is vital that an award winning nonprofit like Silk Road Rising, which is headed by the outstanding co-Artistic Directors Jamil Khoury and Malik Gillani, be given more credence. The stories they tell are fundamentally American stories from immigrant communities that comprise the rich mosaic of our nation. These are the plays that are telling American audiences about what is happening in communities all around them, yet are being ignored by mainstream media and entertainment. Silk Road Rising is a company that provides audiences with deeply moving, deeply thoughtful plays and productions. At a time when our nation is being asked to reckon with its past, the stories told by this company are important harbingers of events to come. We should be listening more to this vital artistic voice calling out to all of us.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Every time I have watched a Silk Road Rising production, I have left the theater uplifted and inspired.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I value the time I have spent here working as a Teaching Artist. I have been with Silk Road Rising for just over 4 years now and I so appreciate many of my experiences. Working in the nonprofit sector is difficult work, there are so many hurdles to jump through when it comes to balancing funding with logistics and I know they do the best they can. It's important for me to work with a group that honors my time and skills and I have always been treated with deep respect for the work I bring I do. They provide their teaching artists with many small gestures of support and appreciation whenever they can. It's rare to find.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I've been attending shows at Silk Road Rising for 9 years now. The first shows I saw were excellent, and I continue to be impressed by the high quality of each production over the years. Silk Road Rising brings us experiences that are not available anywhere else in Chicago.

Each performance is followed by a talk-back, and the thoughtful audience comments and questions show that attendees are engaged and stimulated by what we have seen and heard. The productions help us thing about difficult issues in new and creative ways, and to test our assumptions about people who have different backgrounds than we do. And I say "we" meaning a very heterogeneous audience—individuals of different races and cultures and life experiences in the seats as well as on the stage. We can all find points of connection as well as points where we differ, and we all learn from each other.

I can only hope that Silk Road Rising will grow and prosper and continue to bring their unique and valuable gift to Chicago and beyond.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Silk Road excels in telling stories that increase empathy for diverse communities and interests. It also provides excellent tools and outreach to those not empowered to tell their own stories. It truly is a new silk road for spreading ideas from around the world, while weaving a web connecting the disconnected in our part of the world. I wish there were more organizations with its social values.

I've had an opportunity to review Silk Road Rising's governance. Exceptional in a word. Bravo!

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been fortunate enough to have attended, for the past decade, many of 'Silk Road Rising's' stimulating and thought-provoking productions/pieces. Each production brings to life the real-life situations of peoples' cultural, political and sexual experiences, which makes this company stand out.

One will learn and be amazed by the creativity and ingenuity of the writers, directors and actors, who give their blood, sweat and tears to each piece. Be a part of it!

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I moved to Chicago three months ago after having spent the past eight years in the Pacific islands of Guam and Hawaii, teaching and mentoring students across a wide spectrum of academic and artistic disciplines. My return to the Midwest is an opportunity to share my lessons of interconnectivity from the complex cultures of the Pacific islands, Asia and the Middle East.

This idea of working with students through EPIC (EMPATHIC PLAYWRITING INTENSIVE COURSE) through imagination and story telling, is a valued opportunity to support our education and connect it into the magic of the theatre. This notion is deeply personal to me. My struggle to find my own voice, and to express it through my art and teaching experience, allow me to support the EPIC program throughout the Chicagoland area.

Diversity is the core of my identity—as an immigrant, as a learner, a thinker and a teacher. I do look forward to the opportunity of contributing to Silk Road Rising, to champion the voices of local students and seniors, and to work within a talented educational team.

I take pleasure serving my community.
I am lucky and grateful to be a part of Silk Road Rising's family. Silk Road Rising is my invitation to continue and create a kind, patient and peacful community. And this is the great live journey toward change.

I've found my home away from home.

Thank you again for having me. It is going to be EPIC!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Silk Road gave me the opportunity to change the lives of the youth in the a way I always wanted to do. What I thought would just be table read turned out to be an insight into the stories that youth want to hear more of. As an actor, I am constantly reading for stories that are not for me or, stories that are supposed to represent me but are not written by someone who looks like me. Silk Road's Playwriting Program showed me that there is hope in our youth to speak on the issues we need to bring forward and to uplift those in our communities that have the potential to change the landscape of American Theater.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

In spring 2018, Silk Road Rising produced the premiere of my play Through the Elevated Line. The experience was deeply rewarding. Much of that had to do with the impressive commitment and passion that the people of Silk Road Rising unfailingly bring to their work, and the respect and dedication they generously give to artists like me. Silk Road Rising is a class-act theater company and nonprofit.

1 Joshua B.1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Silk Road Rising creates work that challenges negative preconceptions and breaks through racial and cultural barriers. They tell the stories we need to hear and provide a forum to celebrate our shared humanity.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Silk Road Rising is an essential space in Chicago as it provides a multicultural space that addresses important conversations regarding Middle Eastern and Asian populations in America through storytelling. It also gives voice to actual human beings from those communities and allows them to speak for themselves about their experiences.

1 Bonita B.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a white American citizen who believes that every person should be able to live in the USA without harassment and to worship as conscience dictates. The stories I see on the stage and in the creativity of the Silk Road Rising team help me to understand the problems immigrants must deal with, many of which can't be helped and others that can be helped by caring people. I welcome immigrants and especially those seeking asylum; they, along with my children and grandchildren, will be the future of our country and we should welcome them!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Having been involved with Silk Road as an actor as well as an audience member, I can say with confidence that they are one of the finest companies in the city. As a performer, I have rarely experienced such care, attention to detail, and support throughout the rehearsal process and performance run. Silk Road care deeply about their actors and I would work with them again in a heartbeat.

As an audience member, I am consistently impressed with the variety of stories being told on their stage. Silk Road is deeply committed to its community; involving them in talk backs post-performance, workshops, and other learning opportunities to ensure that communication goes both ways. If you are looking for a place which values storytelling on and off stage, Silk Road is it.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Silk Road Rising has talented actors, interesting sets, and very creative playwrights. I particularly enjoy their plays because the issues that are raised in the stories do so much to humanize people from Middle Eastern and Asian cultures. Malik Gillani, Executive Director, and Jamil Khoury, Artistic Director, deserve the credit for this unique theatre. Because of them, I know that this theatre will continue to produce interesting, enjoyable and important productions.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Silk Road Rising is very special to me as a South Asian. For much of my three decades living in the United States, my culture has been the subject of either jokes or mystification. SRR has given me great hope for a fuller view and a way to interrogate my own understanding of who I am, where I come from, and where I may be going. And I would add that Malik and Jamil have such a beautiful presence about them. They embrace those who come to SRR with warmth. I feel like I'm with family!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Years ago when a former Chinese graduate student friend from China visited us with his young family in Valparaiso, IN and his young children were playing with ours, an elderly neighbor greeted me. In friendly terms he asked which country our friends came from. When I said China, he replied incredulously, "but their skin is like ours." In this small town this man never saw Asian people. He probably assumed the "yellow race" should have canary yellow skin and to see otherwise caused him to alter his perspective. This is the great value of "Silk Road Rising" because through education and theater they positively change people's perspectives. I believe our present world needs this more than ever!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We have been supporting this theatre for several years. When I say we I mean a group of 8 friends. We have loved every staged reading, every fi wished play, and every talk back we have attended. We rarely miss one. They are all well acted, interesting and thought provoking. The topics very widely ranging from very funny to very serious. The atmosphere is cozy. The people are talented, personable and friendly. Feels like family. 9

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Silk Road Rising tells stories. People sometimes think stories are entertainment; but, if they think about it, they realize that stories create our identities. My family are Arab-Americans. For most of my life, I never heard anyone outside my family circle tell stories about Arabs or Arab-Americans. After 9/11 there were a lot of stories, but they were pretty much all negative, mostly untrue, and inciting hatred. Silk Road Rising filled that gap for me and for many others whose ethnic heritage comes from the Silk Road countries. Hearing one's stories is life changing. It teaches me that my personal history and identity matter, that I am part of something bigger than myself, and that everyone in the community has a story. We all grow when we share those stories. Even more important in these times, I think, is the fact that Silk Road Rising is not about identity politics or creating narrow definitions of people. It is about showing what we have in common and showing that even where we are different, we are not separated by our differences but enriched by them. Through its EPIC program in the city's schools, Silk Road Rising is moving this experience of empathy into the coming generation, ensuring that they will have a head start on creating a vibrant, integrated, and diverse community or the future.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Our experiences attending Silk Road Rising (SRR) performances are thought provoking. The story lines bring to life human experiences of cultures we, unfortunately, rarely experience in real time. SRR truly is a gift in the heart of Chicago.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Silk Road is an amazing, creative and contemporary company. I love their cutting edge plays, that provide the curious and uninitiated individual with deep insight into the lesser known cultures and mores. They provide a service that is desperately needed in present turbulent polarized times.
Thank you guys, you are loved.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

Silk Road has been doing wonderful work to promote the modern and traditional aspects of personal and social experiences of Asians and Asian-Americans, along with current events, to the public through stories brought to life in new contemporary plays.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Extraordinary artistic, noble, and activist theatre!

The two founders (from Middle-Eastern/Caucasian/Muslim/Christian/gay backgrounds) founded the theatre to promote cultural understanding in response to the 9/11 attacks.

Their artistic work is fantastic; they put up entertaining, thought-provoking plays working with both established and up-and-coming talent.

They reach out to the community with educational initiatives, discussion panels, online plays, essays, and more. Silk Road Rising and its tireless founders (who frequently greet guests after shows) is taking the Chicago arts scene and cultural understanding to another level. During these interesting times, the world needs Silk Road Rising more than ever.

1 Jessica307

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Silk Road Rising is a company that I have seen many shows at and participated in many events as an audience member. The work they produce is always stellar and eye opening in a way that creates conversations that are not always easy to have given the current political climate. They are a pillar in the Chicago theatre community with a staff that is always extremely welcoming and helpful. As an artist, I am proud to say that their shows have informed not only my career, but my personal life.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

A theater that thrives on presenting eye-opening (and mind opening) productions exploring how we are different-- and the same. They tell the experiences of the people whose ancestry is along the Silk Road, from the middle east to the Pacific; exploring issues that are both relevant to today, and timeless.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have attended most of the plays produced by Silk Road Rising and enjoyed them all.
As an Arab-American, Muslim and a woman they speak to me more than other productions.
The plays are current, creative, informative and break down many stereotypes.
I have brought high school students to see the plays and Silk Road Rising has worked with several of Chicago Public High Schools.
They have been a reflection of Chicago as a global city!
Fadwa Hasan

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Having attended about 12 performances in the past few years, I have always been so impressed with both the production and content of what I have seen. Each performance has both entertained me and, more importantly, educated me to ways of thinking I had not understood or considered. When I can walk away from a performance and have had my ways of thinking challenged – I consider myself better for having seen it. Silk Road continues to be my go to place for as many of the performances as my schedule allows me to see. AND, those who run Silk Road have always made me feel very welcome and shows great appreciation for my attendance. It’s always a very personal experience.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Silk Road Rising is a unique nonprofit that tells important stories in compelling ways. The opportunity to learn about and understand Asian-American and Middle Eastern-American experiences is critical in our age of fear and prejudice. Silk Road Rising productions raise issues that inspire, challenge and entertain us with creativity, variety and integrity. We are fortunate that they are located in Chicago.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

An excellent theatre that truly prioritizes patron's experiences. Programming is current, nuanced, and offers diverse perspectives. Both Jamil and Malik really offer a personal face for the company and go out of their way to engage in a wide range of communities that they serve. A truly mission-aligned theatre, Silk Road Rising challenges and educates through great honesty, artistic rigor, and integrity.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

We are retired educators who worked extensively with multicultural issues. Silk Road Rising is a major force in improving racial and multicultural relations in the Chicagoland area. Some folks are seeing, perhaps for the first time, their lives and issues presented on stage. Others are walking in other people's sandals--all in a non-threatening venue. Every performance is well thought out and honed to perfection. Authenticity is key. Plays, like life, are nuanced.
The Silk Road staff reaches out to subscribers and potential audience members in meaningful ways. Opinions are sought; feedback is important. Silk Road Rising always creates dialog.
What a great gift to the artistic community and to society at large! Malik and Jamil are amazing human beings.

Steve Ham and Jo Ellen Ham

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have had the pleasure to attend several Silk Road Rising performances over the last few years, and I am consistently floored by the magic they manage to work on stage. This is what theatre should be: well-performed, beautifully designed, substantive storytelling in a friendly, welcoming space (the founders, Malik and Jamil, are a delight). Even their staged readings shine with a polish so rarely found in quote/unquote "storefront" theatres. How lucky we are to have Silk Road Rising - a beacon of voices and talents so often overlooked by mainstream stages - just blocks away from the most iconic staples of the Chicago Theatre District. In my mind, Silk Road Rising contends with the best of them.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

After having seen the investigative, creative, educational and dramatic role Silk Road Rising played in relation to Mosque Alert I remained amazed with the group's work ethic, its ability to communicate and raise consciousness as well as its dedication not only to the drama but also to the dialogue. Chicago could not be more fortunate to have a theater group like this in times like today. Once Elmhurst finally gets its dedicated performing arts location underway, the group will be on the top of the list of people I recommend. Well-run charity that makes the donation decision easy.

1 Liz_81

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Silk Road is one of the most important voices in Chicago Theatre and in service of the entire community. Their work puts Chicago into the global conversation with fearless, challenging, and enlightening ideas in a passionate and compassionate context. The current production of Mosque Alert addresses one of the most critical topics we currently face and one in which we must all find our voices.

GoddessAmira

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

I am an actor and Silk Road Rising has been instrumental in helping my career to blossom. As a matter of fact, we were both "born" around the same time. I had come to Chicago in the Autumn of 2002 to pursue acting, and I somehow found out about this company then called Silk Road Theatre Project and the show they were mounting, Jamil Khoury's "Precious Stones". I attended a performance (it was actually one of the very first shows I had seen in the city) and immediately knew I had to reach out to them. I just knew we were right for each other; I am an Arab-American, and I was very interested in helping them with their mission of putting stories on stage that were written by playwrights of Asian/Middle Eastern ancestry featuring actors of similar ancestry. It was a perfect beginning for me, and over the course of the next decade, we worked together many, many times. I not only got to perform a few times in various remounts of "Precious Stones", but I participated in one of their biggest shows to date, "Merchant on Venice", as well as smaller- but every bit as interesting- staged readings. I've loved and appreciated it all. Working with Jamil and Malik is just a lovely experience every time; they are incredibly supportive and admiring of our work, and sit in the audience quite often during the run of a show, as they are such fans of the theatre. Working with them, in short, feels like coming home. I am incredibly grateful for getting to work with them so much over the years, and grateful to them for giving so many diverse artists a much-needed chance to shine.

Donor

Rating: 5

I was the minister of the Chicago Temple when Malik and Jamil came to me with their idea of starting a theater as a response to 9/11. How best can we get to know each other across cultural and ethnic boundaries? By telling our stories to each other. For over a decade I have sat in the audience and learned what I never otherwise would have known about people half way around the world and just around the corner.

What Silk Road Rising provides on stage, on line, and on campus is stunning and impactful.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I happened across Silk Road Rising as a volunteer usher, but their ability to tell the stories of Middle Eastern and Asian people with compassion, dignity, and vigor quickly turned me into a donor. We don't have much to give, but their work is so critical to a fully inclusive society that I can't imagine not doing everything I can to support their continuance.

Aila P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Silk Road Rising has been one of the most inspiring companies that I have had the honor of working with. They open a forum in which the Chicago community is allowed insight to the often overlooked experience of immigrants in this country. It has been an honor to work with The wonderful co-founders of Silk Road Rising, Malik Gillani and Jamil Khoury, and I look forward to working with them in the future. Support of this company is integral to bring the marginalized experience of minority cultures and races to light within Chicago's vast theatre community.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have worked with over thirty theaters and arts organizations over the past three decades. Silk Road Rising Theatre in Chicago is the most efficiently operated of all of them, but what makes it stand out is that its founders care very deeply about the organization's mission. Theater, when it succeeds, is perhaps the single best tool for raising public awareness about complex social and political issues. No one in the U.S. non-profit sector is doing that more effectively than Jamil Khoury and Malik Gilani. Silk Road Rising is a ray of light, helping its audience re-think the simplistic notions parroted in the mainstream media about culture, race and politics. The organization in its structure and in its dealings with artists and audience mirrors its mission of treating every individual as a complex and humane individual. It’s actually difficult to imagine a non-profit that does a better job of serving the community.

Donor

Rating: 5

I attend the First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple and learned of Silk Road Theatre through that group, which houses the theatre company. I'm also a frequent theatre-goer, with season tickets to four Chicago theatres. When I discovered Silk Road Theare (now Silk Road Rising), I was excited because they are meeting a great need in telling stories of specific groups of people along the Silk Road--using playwrights and actors who have stories to tell which often don't get portrayed in other theatres. As a former teacher who worked many years in diversity education, I know how important it is that people have an opportunity to see their own lives reflected in the stories told in literature or on stage. Equally important is the opportunity for others to learn about people from these cultures--and theatre transports us, helping us walk in others' shoes, to experience in some way what they are living out. Silk Road Theatre not only provides excellent theatre experiences, it also builds bridges of understanding.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I got involved with Silk Road Rising first, because of their high-quality stage productions. I kept coming back because, in learning about people I initially thought were different from me, I learned instead how similar we all are. I joined the board because of this organization's innovative approach to inclusive storytelling--with "Theater on Demand" and its online video and ease of accessibility; with community engagement through approaches such as "Mosque Alert," in which audiences help build characters and, ultimately, a play. Silk Road productions--whether online video plays, staged readings or full-blown productions--inspire my to think beyond myself and to approach others with empathy and respect.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This theater group is providing entertainment which forefronts the peoples "of the silk road", which actually is a LOT of groups: from Italy via the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, to the Phillippines and Hawaii, not to mention peoples of all those locations, who live or whose parents and grandparents immigrated to the US. And a fabulous job they do!
1) sometimes simple, sometimes elaborate, their sets are always appropriate, sometimes spectacular.
2) I have never seen a play that was not fabulous done by this group.
3) My first play was "Precious Stones". In this play, two actresses played a total of 8 characters; at one point, 6 or the 8 were in the same scene! With voice and accent changes, posture, character, and costume changes, right before our eyes, they did this most convincingly!
4) They give voice to playwrights and actors, especially, of these heritages.
5) They bring a rarely presented population into the stage / theater stories - for those familiar, who have been neglected, and for those unfamiliar, who can become more familiar, with these peoples and stories.
AND - I, for one, adore the reality that they do this while presenting NO ONE as "terrible" or "perfect", ever, (as far as I can recall.)
Besides all this, the price at present is kept pretty low. I love the small theater, and the opportunity to meet the writers, actors, directors, and producers. I try not to miss any productions.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I found Silk Road Rising through a college class assignment: I was asked to find a non-profit that dedicates itself to social justice through the arts.After completing the class project, I felt the need to be part of such an important mission and became an intern at the theatre doing Arts Administration. I don't think I'll ever find another group as dedicated, passionate, and hard working as the folks at Silk Road Rising. Their commitment to a multicultural world view is inspiring. Silk Road Rising is a professional, growing organization that thrives on the morals of compassion, empathy, and justice. Their mission to diversify Chicago's theatre scene with voices from the Silk Road region is so necessary and needed. They do this through engaging their audiences both in real-time and online, to get audiences involved in the story before they witness it, and long after. This inclusive, warm environment houses a community that grows stronger with every new work produced. I cannot express my gratitude enough to be part of an amazing organization such as this. I look forward to Silk Road Rising's bright future; I know that their growth will be essential to the Silk Road community and the city itself.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Both warm and professional, with a mission that addresses the issues of an evolving culture, Silk Road Rising is one of the best theaters in Chicago, and the nation. They provide a platform for the unconventional, a space for profound discovery, and aren't afraid to speak truth to power. Working with Silk Road Rising was one of the best opportunities/experiences of my life, and every show I see there moves me so deeply that I am forever changed.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Silk Road Rising is an incredibly special place, founded and run by very special people. It is their warmth and passion for the work that has made Silk Road an artistic home for me and so many other artists. Their work consistently pushes boundaries, opens up dialogue and challenges one to rethink their views and understandings of the world around them. They tell the untold stories and in doing so, in such a relatable and personal way, we see that there is a greater connection and commonality between us all than we ever took the time to notice. A company born out of the tragic events of 9/11 is constantly reminding us that hatred and violence are not the answer, that we need to look deeper and find our strength in our similarities rather than our differences.
I am not alone when I say coming to see a show at Silk Roads is like coming home. I hope that many more will experience the fine work of this amazing theatre company.

Rana K.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've been a fan of Silk Road since its early days and it's always with eagerness that I continue to see their productions. I always know that whatever I see will have integrity and push my emotional buttons. They've also helped me grow considerably as a writer, having produced two readings of my screenplays. Malik and Jamil have nurtured this company with heart and sweat. I'm grateful they are in the world!!!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Silk Road Rising gave us a unique opportunity through the reading on stage of our latest script before we make the film. It gave us the possibility to see the reaction of audience live while actors delivering the lines of the story. It helped us so much! It was so intense and beautiful...THANK YOU! Amazing work!

This company is like no other in Chicago, the best reason to support them, all the way!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I find very few places where I can see people of my type on the stage. Generally the actors are white, and have blonde hair and blue eyes. Imagine my surprise when I attended a Silk Road Rising show andI saw people who were like me on their stage, dealing with issues that didn't make me feel different, but rather...human. I was not the side kick, I was not the exotic oriental, but I was the mother worrying about her son, the lover pining for his lost love, and the father looking back at his life with regret. These are the stories Silk Road tells, and frankly the only theatre in the midwest the does so with such candor and brilliance, and this is why I need to review this company on this sight. Although a non-profit theatre company, I have gained much from their existence in Chicago.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Silk Road Rising changed my life. They said yes to develop and produce a very difficult and personal play I had written about the Armenian Genocide. This is who they are. They do not shy away from telling the stories that need to be told, witnessed, and embraced. They care for the play as if it were an intimate and beloved member of their family. Bringing together artists of the highest caliber to take it off the page and give it life. They connect with the particular community, whose story is being told, to create relationships, through passionate outreach, that will involve them directly as fountains of knowledge and experience to ensure that their culture, faith, tragedies, and triumphs are told with greatest of care and responsibility. They prepare their audiences for the story they are about to receive through videos, newsletters, and culturally relevant events that give the theatre goers a context in which to receive the play that may be far from anything in their experience. It is this kind of tireless caring for the whole, both the artist, and audience, that bridges differences and inspires dialogue. Courageous dialogue...for their work is not about homogenization, but rather to ask the difficult questions of ourselves, as a global community, striving not to force an answer...but rather to discover who we are in the process.

I give Silk Road Rising the highest review and celebrate what a national treasure they are in this very difficult time we are living in.

My Best,
Adriana Sevahn Nichols

David254

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The type of programming offered at Silk Road Rising is unique to the area and reason enough to support this company. The founders are committed to the community as well as to the work they put on their stage. I have respected their creativity, and vision for many years and I sincerely hope that the community continues to support them.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Silk Road Rising is a unique, highly professional theater organization which produces new and existing plays on-line and in a traditional theater setting. The plays focus on the American experiences of people from Silk Road cultures, but speak to all cultures through common values of family, trust, loyalty and being an American.

Silk Road not only produces the work of established playwrights, but also gives a voice to new, up and coming artists. The staged readings are unbelievably well-produced.

I've been a supporter for over 4 years and have seen the organization grow and explore new ground through on-line videos and work at public schools. Silk Road Rising has garnered recognition through its work promoting new and established playwrights, its outstanding theater productions and for its bold approach in addressing social and civic issues.

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Board Member

Rating: 5

Silk Road Rising is a unique, highly professional theater organization which produces new and existing plays on-line and in a traditional theater setting. The plays focus on the American experiences of people from Silk Road cultures, but speak to all cultures through common values of family, trust, loyalty and being an American.

I've been a Board member for almost 4 years and have seen the organization grow and explore new ground through on-line videos and work at public schools. Silk Road Rising has garnered recognition through its work promoting new and established playwrights, its outstanding theater productions and for its bold approach in addressing social and civic issues.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We would all certainly benefit if schools were focusing on acceptance of cultural exploration in the way that Silk Road Rising is enacting connectivity. As an attendee of performances and cabaret shows, I am always moved by their motivation of building bridges among each of us and their support hosting difficult dialogue exploring the topics of racism, judgement, etc. Conversations that Silk Road enables, foster growth in communities and is an enormous benefit to Chicago, a quintessential melting pot.

Donor

Rating: 5

We never miss a show! Silk Road Rising is a theater for those who are interested in understanding middle eastern and Asian cultural topics which are hardly addressed (if at all) elsewhere in Chicago. The plays are always thought/discussion provoking and are presented by a talented group of people. I only wish more people were exposed to Silk Road Rising content, it would have made a significant difference in our understanding and tolerance of other cultures.

odcikin

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I'm a Turkish-American director based in San Francisco and a producer for Golden Thread Productions. Silk Road Rising has long been a sister company and we're very proud to count them as a partner. They represent many under-served communities and do this important work with grace and humor. I love that they are not afraid to engage in difficult political dialogue and support artists of color both as producers and as champions for other theaters.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Silk Road Rising represents everything a nonprofit organization stands for. It offers its stage generously to represent the under and mis-represented. The artistic director Jamil Khoury and executive director Malik Gillani have adopted activism as a mission, and demonstrated their passion for social change in their every theatrical, educational and artistic venture. In July 2013, Silk Road Rising has welcomed me as a researcher, assisting me in everything I needed and beyond. I discovered a world of passionate theatrical practitioners who have a strong faith in the ability of Art to transform and create change. The discussion that took place in rehearsals and workshops were every bit as important as the work they present to the world. Their commitment to promote cultural dialogue is astounding. I went there simply as a theatre researcher, but I left as a richer person with a greater understanding not only of theatre, but of Art, activism, nonprofit and of the great possibilities one artistic vision is capable of achieving.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Silk Road Rising is the ONLY theatre in Chicago with the very important mission of being dedicated to present stories exclusively by Asian and Middle Eastern American writers. Jamil and Malik are dedicated to and passionate about their cause and are a very important presence in theatre not only locally, but nationally.

Sheila30

Board Member

Rating: 5

Silk Road Rising presents innovative, thought-provoking drama, both live and online. This dynamic company engages not only broad-based theatre audiences in Chicago, but also patrons of its constituent Silk Road communities. Moreover, Silk Road Rising also reaches audiences around the world, thanks to its cutting-edge and timely development of online video plays. Silk Road challenges us all to participate in significant dialogue regarding cultural issues related to societies along the Silk Road and its diaspora communities.