Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-08-31



Silk Road rolling along multiple pathways
by Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times

This article shared 3540 times since Wed Apr 4, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

In September 2011, the Chicago theater company known as Silk Road Theatre Project changed its name to Silk Road Rising. The name switch was made in response to the organization producing online dramatic content in addition to its founding mission to produce theatrical works focusing on peoples from and of nations stretching from Japan to Italy that made up the ancient Silk Road.

The timing to coincide with the 10-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had a parallel, since out artistic and life partners Malik Gillani and Jamil Khoury co-founded Silk Road Theatre Project in 2002 as a response to counter a wave of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment that they saw growing in America.

"From the inception of the company, we started hearing from people not living in Chicago and often overseas, particularly Muslim women living in Europe, who somehow stumbled upon our website and would be very taken with the mission and the message of our work," said Khoury. "They would contact us and ask if there was some way they could participate, and of course, short of flying to Chicago and buying a ticket, there really wasn't."

Although Silk Road grew from a small itinerant Chicago troupe to a highly esteemed theater company ensconced in the basement of the historic Chicago Temple in the Loop, Gillani and Khoury realized that their often-acclaimed work and the organization's message were reaching limited audiences. This led to Silk Road's drive to produce its own original content online to capture audiences on a global scale.

"In trying to devise a way to have a reach beyond Chicago, obviously we kept thinking about the Internet because it's the most democratic, egalitarian and accessible medium out there," Khoury said. "Even locally there are people who are interested in the spirit of our work, but really don't care much for live theater but who also spend a lot of time online."

Rather than streaming full-length plays (which would have been a nightmare negotiating various rights issues and with union contracts), Silk Road started creating short-form content with narrative stories or in documentary styles. Khoury created a semi-autobiographical short film called both/and that examines what it means to juggle multiple identities of Arab, American and gay. Silk Road also produced a documentary called Not Quite White that explored immigration and Arab and Slavic notions of what constitutes whiteness in America.

However, perhaps the most ambitious online project is Khoury's Mosque Alert, which was created in response to not only the recent media frenzy surrounding the Muslim community center planned to be built near Ground Zero in New York, but also to the resistance of multiple communities across America to the building of new mosques.

Mosque Alert features characters that are both for and against the building of a new, more liberal-leaning mosque in Naperville. Viewers are actively sought to provide comments on the video shorts, and Khoury said he may or may not use their responses in shaping possible future plans for a stage adaptation of Mosque Alert.

Like some of the previous stage plays Silk Road has produced like Caravaggio and Precious Stones, there are gay characters in the mix in these online works. And although Silk Road is not actively seeking Muslim audiences for the online content, they are being accessed in Arab countries.

"Five of the 10 largest countries that are most accessing the works are from the Middle East, which is fascinating to me because in many parts of this world, you cannot be openly gay," said Gillani. "The fact that our work is being accessed in those countries tells me that we're serving a Muslim population that really wants to have access to these topics and these conversations."

With the company name change and the push to produce online content, both Gillani and Khoury stressed that Silk Road Rising has not turned its back on producing live theater (although it did not produce a play this past fall or winter).

Re-Spiced: A Silk Road Cabaret is currently on Silk Road's boards and it's something of a sequel to it previous revue Silk Road Cabaret: Broadway Sings the Silk Road. However, rather than draw its inspiration solely from the Great White Way, Khoury and out director Steve Scott have Re-Spiced featuring other music genres like country, rap, rock and folk to examine Asian and Middle Eastern images as conjured up in U.S. and British songs.

"[Re-Spiced is] going deeper with this idea of how representation of Silk Road peoples either in literature and music shaped perception in the West, particularly in the U.S. and the U.K. for better or for worse—particularly worse because the imagery was often at the service of a colonial or a war project," Khoury said.

Khoury is particularly curious about the potential audience reaction to Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue," which promises U.S. revenge and vengeance after the attacks of Sept. 11.

"The lyrics to that song are hard for me to listen to," Khoury said. "But then you have an ensemble of eight American actors of color singing this song and it's powerful to watch because there's something so incredibly ironic and subversive going on and it changes the meaning of the song."

So whether they're producing live theater or online content, Khoury and Gillani hope audiences will go along with all of their expanded endeavors for Silk Road Rising and that they'll get over the organization's name change.

"Most people refer to us as Silk Road, and we were rarely called Silk Road Theatre Project except in official context in the past," Khoury said about the company's branding. "So Silk Road Theatre Project or Silk Road Rising, either way I think in the minds of the Chicago theater community we are Silk Road whatever word or words follow that."

Silk Road Rising's Re-Spiced: A Silk Road Cabaret runs now in previews through, Friday, April 6, with an official opening Saturday, April 7. Regular performances continue 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through Sunday, May 6 at the Chicago Temple Building's Pierce Hall, 77 W. Washington St. (There will be no Chicago shows Friday and Saturday, April 27 and 28, since the show will be performed at Governors State University in University Park on the latter date.) Tickets are $20 for previews and $30 during the regular run; call 312-857-1234, ext. 201, or visit .

Also, Khoury's video play of Mosque Alert, his semi-autobiographical video both/and, and the documentary Not Quite White can all be viewed online at .

This article shared 3540 times since Wed Apr 4, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Elton John, Leslie Jordan, Joel Kim Booster, Janelle Monae 2022-11-27
- Elton John gave Los Angeles concluded a three-show run on Nov. 20 back inside Dodger Stadium, taking a final bow as part of his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour," according to The Hollywood Reporter. The concert ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Grammy nominees, Gabrielle Union, Trevor Noah, Brendan Fraser 2022-11-20
- Out Magazine compiled a list of some of the 2023 LGBTQA+ Grammy nominees. Among those on the list were Brandi Carlile (who earned another seven Grammy nominations this year, raising her career total to 25), Lady ...

Gay News

Hong Kong lesbian romance premieres at local film festival 2022-11-14
- Hong Kong Lesbian Romance Premieres At Film Festival by Vernon Hester �As part of the semi-annual Asian Pop-Up Cinema Film Festival, which ran from September 10 through November 6, The First Girl I Loved had its ...

Gay News

Filmmaker Elegance Bratton reflects on The Inspection 2022-11-14
- Gay writer and director Elegance Bratton has come a long way after growing up in New Jersey and being unhoused for 10 years. He eventually joined the Marine Corps, which led to his becoming the filmmaker ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Queer channel, gay actor dies, Jeopardy!, Luke and Chris Evans 2022-11-13
- Fuse Media—a Latino-owned, multiplatform entertainment company—announced that in partnership with OUTtv, it is expanding its suite of DEI FAST channels with the launch of the channel OUTtv Proud, per a press release. Set for a 2023 ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Gay racer, GALECA, Lena Waithe, 'Chicago,' LGBTQ+ films 2022-11-06
- Gay motorsports racer Zach Herrin made his long-awaited debut in a NASCAR-affiliated race in Phoenix, The Advocate noted. "I know I have a lot of eyes on me, and all I want to do is get out there and blur everything ...

Gay News

Actress Rebel Wilson gets engaged, announces birth of first child [UPDATE] 2022-11-05
- Actress Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect) is engaged to girlfriend Ramona Agruma after dating for seven months, according to Page Six. ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Nathan Lane, gala, Beyonce, Kevin Aviance, Henry Cavill, Shania 2022-10-30
Video below - Nathan Lane is returning to Broadway this winter to star in the debut run of Pictures of Home, per The Hollywood Reporter. Based on the photo memoir by Larry Sultan of the same name and adapted ...

Gay News

WORLD World Cup, Ukraine president, purge survivors, Eddie Izzard 2022-10-30
- Fahad bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah, Qatar's ambassador to the UK, said LGBTQ+ couples visiting the country for the World Cup can "hold hands" but should be mindful of "public displays of affection," according to PinkNews. He told ...

Gay News

Sheryl Lee Ralph producing HIV/AIDS documentary 2022-10-29
- Recent Emmy winner Sheryl Lee Ralph has signed on to produce Unexpected, a documentary short about women of color living with HIV in the South, Variety reported. Directed by Zeberiah Newman, the film will chronicle Masonia ...

Gay News

The Chicago International Film Fest's OutLook Series: Bigger, better, bolder in 2022 2022-10-24
- The Chicago International Film Festival has presented moving pictures from around the world to the public for 58 years after being founded in 1964 by openly gay graphic artist Michael Kutza. During Oct. 12=23, cinephiles were ...

Gay News

'Will & Grace' actor Leslie Jordan dies in car accident 2022-10-24
- Leslie Jordan—the openly gay actor who rose to fame on Will & Grace as the frenemy of Megan Mullally's Karen Walker and was immediately recognizable by his Southern accent—died in a single-car crash in Hollywood on ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'P-Valley,' Dan Levy, trans/non-binary panel, Christina Aguilera, Spirit Day 2022-10-23
Video below - Starz has renewed the show P-Valley (the network's most-watched series) for a third season, The Hollywood Reporter noted. The renewal for the series from creator/showrunner Katori Hall arrives more than two months after the sophomore season ...

Gay News

Chicago History Museum to host 'Supreme Models' screening Nov. 4 2022-10-19
- The Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum will host the official Midwest screening of Supreme Models and an exclusive in-person celebration on Friday, Nov. 4, 5:30-9:30 p.m. at The Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark ...

Gay News

Haven hosting 'Rocky Horror Picture Party' on Oct. 29-30 2022-10-18
- Haven is welcoming back its "Science Fiction/Double Feature: A Rocky Horror Picture Party"—an immersive Rocky Horror-themed Halloween party that brings to life in vivid technicolor the world of the cult-classic film. Hosted by Helena Handbasket, the ...


Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.