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, religion, and citizenship.
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. Mosque Alert has been translated into German, Russian, and Arabic. The German translation has been performed at Lichthof Theatre in Hamburg, Germany (2016 & 2017).
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, alongside the short plays of six other playwrights. Khoury’s play Precious Stones (2003) was Silk Road’s inaugural production and has been performed in ten cities across the U.S. His play Azizati (1997) was performed at Café Voltaire and his play Fitna: Chaos as Woman 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: Broadway Sings the Silk Road (2009) and Re-Spiced: A Silk Road Cabaret (2012).
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’s current video play-in-progress, Obstacle Course, will be released in 2019.
Khoury regularly contributes to the field through publications. He, along with Michael Malek Najjar and Corey Pond, co-edited Six Plays of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (McFarland, 2018), which includes Khoury’s essays “An Anthology Defined: The State of Semitic Commonwealth” and “Diplomatically Speaking: Envisioning a Semitic Commonwealth.” Khoury and Torange Yeghiazarian, Founding Artistic Director of San Francisco’s Golden Thread Productions, each wrote a Foreward for The Selected Works of Yussef El Guindi, edited by Michael Malek Najjar (Bloomsbury, 2018). They also co-wrote the “Middle Eastern American Theatre Artists Bill of Rights” and “Dear Producers and Artistic Directors of the American Theatre” (American Theatre Magazine, September 29, 2017). Khoury’s essay “Beyond First Responders: Politics, Racism, and the Aesthetics of Arab American Theatre” appears in Arab American Aesthetics: Literature, Material Culture, Film, and Theatre, edited by Theri A. Pickens (Routledge, 2018). His play Precious Stones is included in Four Arab American Plays: Works by Leila Buck, Jamil Khoury, Yussef El Guindi, and Lameece Issaq & Jacob Kader, edited by Michael Malek Najjar (McFarland, 2014), along with his Afterword “Towards an Arab American Theatre Movement.”
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 has been Playwright-in-Residence at Tufts University (2018), Benedictine University (2017), North Central College (2016), Valparaiso University (2015), and Knox College (2015).
Throughout the years, Khoury has received numerous awards. He is the 2017 recipient of The University of Chicago’s Diversity Leadership Alumni Award, 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, the 2013 recipient of the ChangeMaker Award from South Asian Americans Leading Together, the 2010 recipient of the 3Arts Artist Award for Playwriting, and the 2003 recipient of the After Dark Award for Outstanding New Work (Precious Stones). In 2014, Silk Road Rising, under the leadership of Khoury and his husband, Malik Gillani, was inducted into Chicago’s Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame for “showcasing works that address themes relevant to LGBTQ Silk Road peoples and their Diaspora communities.”
Khoury serves proudly on the Board of Directors of the Consortium of Asian American Theatres and Artists (CAATA).