The Company


America’s First Theatre and Media Arts Company Dedicated to Telling Stories of East Asian, South Asian, and Middle Eastern Communities


Our History

Silk Road Rising (formerly Silk Road Theatre Project) creates theatre and media arts that tell stories through Asian American and Middle Eastern American lenses. In representing communities that intersect and overlap, we advance a polycultural worldview.  

Founded in 2002 by husbands Malik Gillani and Jamil Khoury, Silk Road Rising began as an intentional and creative response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. We recognized that the consequences of that catastrophic day would reverberate for years to come, posing unique and urgent challenges for artists of all backgrounds. It would, moreover, reactivate our devotion to educating, to promoting dialogue, and to healing rifts through the transformative power of storytelling

At that time we also felt galvanized to respond to the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiments sweeping the US in the wake of the September 11th attacks. Our goal was to counter negative representations of Middle Eastern and Muslim peoples with representations by us, about us, and for all—representations grounded in authentic, multi-faceted, and patently human experiences.

This ambition soon inspired us to expand beyond the Middle East to encompass a vast geography of trade routes stretching from China to Syria known historically as the Silk Road. The Silk Road provided us the narrative from which Silk Road Rising’s core values would emerge: Discovery, Pluralism, and Empathy.  

Over a decade and a half later, we at Silk Road Rising understand better than ever that cultures are inherently linked. We seek out the intersections of these cultures without denying each culture’s specificity, and we strive to create a world that values art over ideology and inquiry over dogma.