Silk Road Rising, as this video shows, is a purpose-driven theater—
When Silk Road Rising’s Malik Gillani, Founding Executive Director, and his life partner Jamil Khoury, Founding Artistic Director, set out to create a theater that would put an end to Islamophobia they did not know that their travels would join them with an ardent supporter and ally, Reverend Philip Blackwell, Minister of the First United Methodist Church at the Historic Chicago Temple Building.
That meeting came a few years after September 11th, when anti-Arab sentiments had already been unleashed in such a way that many persons of conscience were looking for ways to give religious and ethnic tolerance a much needed re-birth.
Reverend Blackwell calls it a “no-brainer”. He is referring to his decision to help Silk Road Rising find a home in the basement of the Chicago Temple. This is not just a donation of space but rather an important partnership that has touched many lives.
On June 7 Silk Road Rising presented a wine reception followed by a cabaret that they aptly named, “A celebration of Reverend Philip Blackwell” in honor of Blackwell’s retirement.
Each of the performers (Brenna Boncosky, Catherine Dildilian, Joseph Anthony Foronda, Karen Nussbaum and David Rhee) seemed to have heartfelt connection to Reverend Blackwell.
Gillani and Khoury were moving in their descriptions of how they not only found a home for their theater but a spiritual home.
There were many tears and sweet words, followed by a screening of “Sacred Stages..” that describes the history of this collaboration and that you can watch here—
With many headlines about all that is wrong in Chicago it is easy to forget about the many things that are right. Certainly this story of how Reverend Blackwell had created a space for one of Chicago’s most vibrant and important theaters to tell stories from the Middle Eastern and Asian experience is on the short list of good works deserving more spotlight.
This month Silk Road Rising will be hosting two staged readings in the Chicago Temple space at 77 West Washington in the Loop. Tickets are $10 each and can be ordered online at the Silk Road Rising website or by calling the box office at 312 875 1234 x 201.
Photos courtesy of Silk Road Rising unless otherwise indicated