Compassion from Chaos
The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 sparked anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment across the United States. Jamil Khoury
and Malik Gillani found a creative way to respond.
The seeds of the
Silk Road Theatre Project were sown within months of 9/11. Khoury and Gillani initially hoped to counter negative representations of Muslims and people
from the Middle East, but their idea soon expanded to include the vast region stretching from China to Italy known historically
as the "Silk Road."
America's relationship with the countries of the Silk Road had become increasingly complex, they believed, and by presenting
the perspectives of these cultures through theater, they felt they could contribute something positive to the public discourse.
The Silk Road Theatre Project has provided a voice for the more than 1.5 million people of Asian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean
descent living in the Chicago metro area, and to their kin abroad.
Since 2003, Silk Road has been based at the historic
Chicago Temple. A recent $1.5 million renovation of the lower level created new offices and a theater, which opened in 2006 with Yussef El-Guindi's "Back of the Throat." The Egyptian-born playwright dramatizes a post-9/11 encounter between two FBI agents and an Arab-American man, Khalid – a seemingly innocuous visit from the government that begins as a "friendly" inquiry and soon devolves into a chilling, full-blown investigation of Khalid's presumed ties to terrorists.
Silk Road Theater Project, Historic Chicago Temple Building, 77 W. Washington St., Chicago, IL, 60602
Click here for directions
Mahmoud Saeed, an Iraqi writer living in Chicago. Read about his award-winning book,
Saddam City, which was recently translated and published in the United States.
Natya Dance Theater, Chicago's classical Indian dance company.