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Founders


Jamil2Jamil Khoury

Founding Artistic Director
email: jamil@silkroadrising.org
phone: (312) 857-1234 x203

Jamil Khoury is the Founding Artistic Director of Silk Road Rising. Promoting playwrights of Silk Road backgrounds (Asian and Middle Eastern) is a passion that dovetails well with Khoury’s experiences living in the Middle East and his eleven years as a cross-cultural trainer and international relocations consultant. A theatre producer, playwright, essayist, and filmmaker, Khoury’s work focuses on Middle Eastern themes and questions of Diaspora. He is particularly interested in the intersections of culture, national identity, and citizenship, as well as ever-evolving notions of Americanness.


Khoury's newest play, Mosque Alert, received its professional world premiere at Silk Road Rising in spring 2016. The play grew out of an online interactive new play development and civic engagement project that was launched in 2011, exploring resistance to the building of mosques in communities across the U.S. This unique, first-of-its-kind pairing of artistic and civic processes received the 2013 ChangeMaker Award from South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT). Mosque Alert received its college world premiere at Illinois’ Knox College in February 2015, and addition college productions at Indiana’s Valparaiso University in November 2015 and Illinois’s North Central College in October 2016. Leading up to all three student productions, Khoury served as playwright-in-residence. With support from the MacArthur Foundation, the play was translated into German by playwright/translator Ulrike Syha and received two public staged readings at Hamburg, Germany’s Lichthof Theatre in October 2016.


Khoury’s short play 63rd and Kedzie: The Arab American Cultural Center was commissioned and produced as part of Theatre Seven’s The Chicago Landmark Project (2011). He also conceived of and was a featured playwright in Silk Road’s production of The DNA Trail: A Genealogy of Short Plays about Ancestry, Identity, and Utter Confusion (2010) for which he wrote the short play WASP: White Arab Slovak Pole. Khoury’s play Precious Stones (2003) won Gay Chicago Magazine’s 2003 After Dark Award for Outstanding New Work and has been performed in ten cities across the U.S. His play Azizati (1997) was performed at Café Voltaire and his play Fitna: Women and Chaos in the Arab World (1995) was performed at the University Theatre of The University of Chicago. He also conceived of and devised two critically acclaimed cabarets: Re-Spiced: A Silk Road Cabaret (2012) and Broadway Sings the Silk Road (2009).


Khoury’s video/film work includes the animated short film The Four Hijabs (2016), which he co-wrote with Dr. Manal Hamzeh of New Mexico State University. His video plays include Multi Meets Poly: Multiculturalism and Polyculturalism Go On a First Date (2014), The Balancing Arab (2012), and both/and (2011). His documentary films include Sacred Stages: A Church, a Theatre, and a Story (2014) and Not Quite White: Arabs, Slavs, and the Contours of Contested Whiteness (2012).


Khoury holds a M.A. degree in Religious Studies from The University of Chicago Divinity School and a B.S. degree in International Relations from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. He is a Kellogg Executive Scholar (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University) and has been awarded a Certificate of Professional Achievement in Nonprofit Management. Khoury is the 2015 recipient of the Community Leader Award from the Association for Asian American Studies, the 2013 recipient of the Kathryn V. Lamkey Award from Actor’s Equity Association for promoting diversity and inclusion in theatre, and the 2010 recipient of the 3Arts Artist Award for Playwriting. In 2014, Khoury, his husband Malik Gillani, and Silk Road Rising were inducted into Chicago’s Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame for “showcasing works that address themes relevant to Silk Road peoples and their Diaspora communities, including polycultural LGBT stories.”

Malik2Malik Gillani

Founding Executive Director
email: malik@silkroadrising.org
phone: (312) 857-1234 x202

Malik Gillani is Founding Executive Director of Silk Road Rising, a position to which he brings extensive experience in producing, management, and business development. He is thrilled to be advancing both the rich cultural legacy of the Silk Road and greater visibility for Silk Road artists. Gillani nurtured Silk Road Rising from its embryonic stage into a celebrated theatre company, integrating business acumen and fiscal responsibility within an artistic mission.

He is a recognized leader in the creation of innovative arts programming that expands artistic access. Most notably, he conceived of and developed SRR’s model for creating online video plays which are now being accessed across the globe. Gillani conceived of and established SRR’s arts integrated education program, Myths to Drama, which was heralded as one of the finest elementary school arts education programs in the Chicago Public Schools system. He also conceived of, developed, and piloted a new arts education program for high school and elementary school students in partnership with San Diego’s Playwrights Project called EPIC (Empathic Playwriting Intensive Course).

Gillani earned a Bachelor's in Liberal Arts from St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, with an emphasis on the Great Books. He is a Kellogg Executive Scholar (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University) and has been awarded a Certificate of Professional Achievement in Nonprofit Management. Gillani received a Masters in Non-Profit Administration from North Park University. Additionally, he has 15 years experience operating technology consulting firms where at various points in his career he was responsible for sales, marketing, negotiations, contract management, and human resources. Gillani has been a volunteer grant reviewer for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council, and the City of Chicago’s CityArts Program. He has presented papers at local and national conferences on arts leadership, innovation in the arts, and infusing arts practices into community organizing. Gillani is the recipient of the IBM Business and Technology Leadership Award and was honored by Changing Worlds for Outstanding Contributions to the Arts. In 2009, he received the Chicago Community Trust Fellowship Award.