The Company


America’s First Theater
Dedicated to Telling Stories of
Silk Road Communities

History of Silk Road Rising

Our History

Founded in 2002 by life partners Malik Gillani (a Pakistani Muslim) and Jamil Khoury (a Syrian Orthodox Christian), Silk Road Rising is an award winning, professional, Equity theatre company, centrally located in the Loop in the Historic Chicago Temple Building at 77 W Washington St. It is the only facility in the country solely dedicated to presenting Asian American and Middle Eastern American stories. The theatre has played an instrumental role for a number of Silk Road playwrights and artists first breaking out onto the Chicago theatre scene. As Newcity Magazine notes, “Silk Road Rising’s ongoing mission is to counter Islamophobia, xenophobia and racism by addressing the dearth of representation of Silk Road peoples on Chicago stages… their very existence is as imperative as their mission.”




The Chicago Temple

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 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.




Silk Road Rising (formerly known as Silk Road Theatre Project) creates live theater in Chicago and online videos that tell stories through primarily Asian American and Middle Eastern American lenses. In representing communities that intersect and overlap, we advance a polycultural worldview.

Core Values

  • Discovery
  • Pluralism
  • Empathy


Silk Road Rising understands that cultures are inherently linked. We seek the intersections of cultures without denying the specificities of cultures. And we strive to create a world that values art over ideology and inquiry over dogma.