Players 2019: The Fifty People Who Really Perform for Chicago

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Sharon Hoyer, New City Stage

January 2, 2019

Jamil Khoury and Malik Gillani
Founding Artistic Director and Founding Executive Director, Silk Road Rising
Our 2017 Players of the Moment, Jamil Khoury and Malik Gillani have not rested on their laurels in the last two years. Among their accomplishments, the Silk Road Rising leaders are adept at selecting works that import Asian and Middle Eastern perspectives into popular Western stories. Through The Elevated Line by Novid Parsi, which had its world premiere with the company, echoes the romantic and familial tensions of A Streetcar Named Desire, transporting Tennessee Williams’ tale to Uptown in the summer of 2016 leading up to the Cubs’ historic World Series victory. The company collaborated with Remy Bumppo on an adaptation of Great Expectations set in nineteenth-century Calcutta during the British Raj. Christmas Mubarak related the story of Mary and Jesus as told in the Quran. Elsewhere, the company bypasses a historical/literary focus to present stories that sear with urgency: Anu Bhatt’s Hollow/Wave was a deeply personal excavation of her experiences with sexual abuse. The New China Festival featured playwrights from the Chinese-speaking world that provided humanistic insight. When they aren’t producing, Silk Road is delivering EPIC (Empathic Playwriting Intensive Course), a twenty-session program, to 600 CPS students. The company partnered with the Consortium of Asian American Theaters & Artists to present their national conference in Chicago, which brought 200 Asian American artists together for professional workshops and national network building. With grants from the American Theatre Wing and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation for Islamic Art under their belts, we have every reason to believe that it will be another busy couple of years for this dynamic duo and their essential company.

Michael Mead