Silk Road Rising is the professional theatre-in-residence at The First United Methodist Church at The Chicago Temple, an honor we have held since the spring of 2003, forging a secular, non-sectarian relationship between the venerable Loop congregation and our multi-cultural theatre company.
A Mission Based Partnership
The leadership at The Chicago Temple and Silk Road Rising worked over the course of three years to develop a Memorandum of Understanding that documents our unique partnership. We are not tenants in the building, rather, we are a resident theatre company that is provided resources by the church and its members to grow and flourish. The mission, as documented in the memorandum, reads: The mission of the relationship between Silk Road Rising and the Church set forth in this Agreement is to provide SRR with a visible and stable home, to enhance the Church’s profile as a premier cultural destination in downtown Chicago and a congregation open to all, and to strengthen both institutions through mutually beneficial cooperation and understanding.
A short documentary film, Sacred Stages: A Church, A Theatre, and A Story, further details this inspiring partnership. Watch the film by clicking HERE .
Our permanent performance venue is a beautiful, fully-equipped, 80-seat flexible black box theatre in Pierce Hall, located on the lower level of The Historic Chicago Temple Building, in the heart of Chicago’s burgeoning Loop theatre district.
The Historic Chicago Temple Building
The Historic Chicago Temple Building was designed by the renowned architectural firm of Holabird & Roche. Completed in 1924, the building has long been heralded for its architectural beauty and magnificent spire. Built of gray and white Bedford stone and mixing the grace of a French Gothic cathedral with the practicality of an American skyscraper, the Temple became, when first dedicated, the tallest building in Chicago. In addition to housing the church, the parsonage, the Chapel in the Sky, commercial space, and of course, Silk Road Rising, the 27-story Chicago Temple building also houses 17 floors of private offices.
First United Methodist Church of Chicago
"the oldest church in Chicago"
The First United Methodist Church of Chicago pre-dates the incorporation of the City of Chicago by six years, tracing its origins to 1831, back when Fort Dearborn was an outpost on the United States’ western frontier. The congregation has contributed enormously to Chicago’s spiritual, civic, and cultural development, and has been described as “a microcosm of the history of Chicago and of the nation itself.” Celebrated as one of Chicago’s most diverse congregations, members hail from every ZIP Code in the city as well as 80 suburbs. The congregation’s rich ethnic, racial and economic diversity renders it an ideal partner for Silk Road Rising.
"The Silk Road" A Zhou Brothers Mural
In 2007, Silk Road Rising received a gift of a stunning mural called "The Silk Road" by the world renowned artists Zhou Brothers. The mural is on permanent display in the theatre venue.
The Zhou Brothers, Shan Zhuo and DaHuang Zhou, are two of the most accomplished contemporary artists in the world today renowned for their unique collaborative work process. They always work together on their paintings, performances, sculptures, prints, often communicating without words in a so-called dream dialogue. Their thinking, aesthetic, and creativity are a symbiosis of Eastern and Western philosophy, art, and literature that informed their development since early childhood. Their indomitable spirit allowed them to leave behind their brilliant success in China, where they were hailed as national heroes for their early work, to step onto the world stage.
The Zhou Brothers were born in China 1952 and 1957 respectively. They studied drama and painting at the University of Shanghai from 1978 to 1982 and the National Academy for Arts and Crafts in Beijing from 1983 to 1984 where they received their Master's of Fine Arts. During the 1980s, they were recognized as leaders of the contemporary art movement in China. Realizing that the political and cultural landscape at that time would not allow them to expand their careers, an invitation to exhibit in Chicago in 1986 presented a timely opportunity to make the transition onto an international stage. The Zhou Brothers have consequently maintained their home and studios in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood while actively exhibiting their work nationally and abroad.
Learn more about the Zhou Brothers on their website www.zhoubrothers.com