Staged Readings

The Izmailovo Apartment by R. Sheth

July 1415, 2019

Written by Emilia Kazumova
Adapted by Zarema Zautdinova
Poetry by Alexandra Shilyaeva
Translated from Russian by Graham Schmidt
Directed by Adrianne Cury

Fleeing domestic violence, rape, and deception, three women find refuge in a squalid apartment in the Izmailovo district of Moscow. Based on the personal life of playwright Emilia Kazumova and anecdotal stories that she collected, The Izmailovo Studio explores the pursuit of personal dignity against patriarchal torment.

Performed as part of Staging the Stans

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The Store by R. Sheth

July 1314, 2019

Written by Olzhas Zhanaydarov
Translated from Russian by John Freedman
Directed by Jeremy Aluma

Based on real events, Olzhas Zhanaydarov’s The Store exposes the brutal torment of a Kazakh migrant working in Moscow. Public indifference and a corrupt police force silence young victims lured from their homeland by a Kazakh trafficker. Promises of money, citizenship, and family reunification set the stage for a life of indentured servitude and abuse, a reality rationalized by religious interpretations of master and slave.

Performed as part of Staging the Stans

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Uzbek by R. Sheth

July 1213, 2019

Written by Talgat Batalov
Adapted by Yekaterina Bondarenko
Translated from Russian by John Freedman
Directed by Sami Ismat

In Talgot Batalov’s Uzbek, the tales of Central Asian immigrants become fodder for a stand-up comedy routine. The ironies, dangers, paradoxes, and absurdities of moving from one culture to another are satirized in this intrepid tribute to human resilience. Uzbek avoids cliches and partisanship, insisting instead that everything cuts two ways.

Performed as part of Staging the Stans

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EPIC Showcase Spring 2019 by R. Sheth

June 8-9, 2019

Written by Jacqueline Corral, Diego Del Carmen, Francisco G., Zacharie Hadj-Mohamed, Tyriana Jones, Ingrid Mares, Melanie Molina, Grace Neely, Jesus Vicente Ramos, Olivia Shumaker, Briseyda Torres, Doris Wolff, and Mary Yoon
Directed by Corey Pond with Tracy Strimple

A presentation of short plays written by new playwrights who participated in Silk Road Rising’s EPIC (Empathic Playwriting Intensive Course) residencies in Spring 2019. Writers are middle school and high school students or older adults whose plays shed light on the challenges and issues that Chicago youngest and eldest residents face.

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EPIC Showcase Fall 2018 by R. Sheth

February 9-10, 2019

Written by Marcel Carter, Susan Cisneros, Destiny Mendez, Shavez Rodgers, Diamond Torres, Lakyla Turner, and Taylor Woods
Directed by Corey Pond with Tracy Strimple

EPIC Showcase is a compilation of short plays written by middle school and high school students that shed light on the challenges and issues Chicago youth face. The readings are performed by actors from the Silk Road Rising community.

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A Great Migration by R. Sheth

October 67, 2018

Co-Produced with A-Squared Theatre
Written by Preston Choi
Directed by Brian Balcom

As Louise prepares a TEDx Talk on the Migratory Patterns of the North American Monarch Butterfly, her three sons are on the hunt to find their father so they can avoid being drafted into the Korean army. Part nature documentary, part TED Talk, A Great Migration maps one family's search for identity, unity, and a destination they are reluctant to embrace.

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Sand on a Distant Star by Brent Eickhoff

August 1819, 2018

Written by Stan Lai
Translated from Chinese by Stan Lai with assistance by Tian Hongyi
Directed by Helen Young

Nightingale’s husband has been missing for nearly two decades. She’s convinced that he was abducted by aliens and will return on the twentieth anniversary of his disappearance. As Nightingale grows increasingly invested in her fantasies, her daughter and colleague grapple with an unsettling possibility: What if her husband doesn’t come back?

Performed as part of Silk Road Rising’s New China Festival: Staged Readings of Plays from the Chinese Speaking World

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Dialogue and Rebuttal by R. Sheth

August 1112, 2018

Written by Gao Xingjian
Translated from Chinese by Gilbert C. F. Fong
Directed by Carol Ann Tan

Two strangers find themselves stranded outside of both time and place with only each other for company. Consumed by their personal loneliness, neither is able to truly listen to what the other has to say. Trapped in the existential crisis that follows a hook-up, their frustrations begin leading them down a path of mutual self-destruction.

Performed as part of Silk Road Rising’s New China Festival: Staged Readings of Plays from the Chinese Speaking World

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Speaking as Then by R. Sheth

August 45, 2018

Written by Ruoxin Xu
Directed by Helen Young

On the eve of Chinese New Year, Dan is finally returning to China after several years in the U.S. But before the Tang family can celebrate a reunion, they must first confront their national, cultural, and political differences if they are to understand why Dan is really back—and why he immigrated to America in the first place.

Performed as part of Silk Road Rising’s New China Festival: Staged Readings of Plays from the Chinese Speaking World

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Obstacle Course by R. Sheth

April 19, 2018

Written by Jamil Khoury
Directed by Michael Menendian

Set in Naperville, Illinois, Obstacle Course explores reactions to a proposed Islamic Community Center on the site of a beloved landmark. Allyship, municipal politics, and Islamophobia all intersect in this head-on collision between Not in My Backyard fear mongering, well-intentioned liberalism, and the peaceful practice of faith.

Performed as part of RIOTCon 2018

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Pure Land by Brent Eickhoff

February 3–4, 2018

Written by Mehdi Moradpour
Translated from German by Neil Blackadder
Directed by Sami Ismat

German Iranian playwright Mehdi Moradpour’s Pure Land, nominated for the Munich Prize for German Drama, traces the story of Tara, a pregnant Middle Eastern woman seeking political asylum amidst crippling bureaucracy and crumbling relationships. Neil Blackadder’s translation captures the poetry that won Moradpour the prestigious exil-DramatikerInnenpreis, a German theatre award for outstanding playwrights-in-exile.

Pure Land pits a torturous past against an uncertain future with sobering effect.

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P3M5: The Plurality of Privacy Project by Brent Eickhoff

January 13–15, 2018

Written by Paco Bezerra, Philip Kan Gotanda, Simona Hamer, Marioan Hosseini, Rachida Lamrabet, Mihaela Michailov, and Csaba Székely
Directed by Kaiser Ahmed and Christine Bunuan

What does privacy mean in the digital age? P3M5 is a groundbreaking transatlantic theater project featuring five-minute plays from internationally renowned playwrights.

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We Swim, We Talk, We Go to War by R. Sheth

September 9–10, 2017

Written by Mona Mansour
Directed by Anna C. Bahow

Should an Arab American enlist in the U.S. military? A progressive woman and her conservative nephew dip into the treacherous waters of identity, family, and militarism. Co-commissioned with San Francisco’s Golden Thread Productions and New York’s Lark Play Development Center as part of the Middle East America New Plays InitiativeWe Swim, We Talk, We Go to War blurs the lines between “us” and “them” presenting a provocative exploration of the tragic and indelible ripples of war.

Performed as part of Silk Road Rising's Crescent and Star Staged Reading Series: Arab and Muslim Journeys

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Jihad Against Violence: Oh ISIS Up Yours! by R. Sheth

August 1920, 2017

Written by Fawzia Afzal-Khan
Directed by George Potter

A Muslim feminist responds to the hijacking of Islam by patriarchal extremists. Her unfiltered, stream-of-consciousness reflections deliver a potent indictment of the surreal and sardonic world we now inhabit, and a welcome reminder that sisterhood is powerful.

Performed as part of Silk Road Rising's Crescent and Star Staged Reading Series: Arab and Muslim Journeys

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Twice, Thrice, Frice... by R. Sheth

August 56, 2017

Written by Fouad Teymour
Directed by Kareem Fahmy

When an affair involving one of their husbands comes to light, long-held secrets begin to emerge in the lives of three Muslim women, threatening the friendship that binds them together. With humor and mischief, Twice, Thrice, Frice… unleashes a debate about polygamy and fidelity, as each woman struggles with her sexuality and faith.

Performed as part of Silk Road Rising's Crescent and Star Staged Reading Series: Arab and Muslim Journeys

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The Match by R. Sheth

May 30, 2017

Written by Driss Ksikes
Directed by Katy Walsh

The Match is a contemporary retelling of the Oedipus story told through solitude, revolution, and soccer.

Moussa is a disillusioned ex-trade unionist, returning from prison. His son Ali spends all of his time on the Internet. A battle of words, and silence, ensues while the national soccer team plays a historic match.

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Mosque Alert by R. Sheth

April 18, 2017

Written by Jamil Khoury
Directed by Carin Silkaitis

Inspired by the Ground Zero Mosque controversy in New York City, Mosque Alert tells the story of three fictional families living in Naperville, Illinois, whose lives are interrupted by a proposed Islamic Center on the site of a beloved local landmark. Mosque Alert explores the intersections of zoning and Islamophobia with humor, family drama, and refreshingly blunt honesty.

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Illegal Helpers by Brent Eickhoff

March 11–12, 2017

Written by Maxi Obexer
Translated from German by Neil Blackadder
Directed by Kaiser Ahmed

This documentary play by playwright Maxi Obexer addresses the plight of the "illegal helpers" who seek to provide aid and shelter to migrants—even though it is against the law. A powerful insight into a contemporary tragedy that threatens to engulf Western Europe, it provides a sharp look at those who help, and those who callously sit by doing nothing.

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The Victims by R. Sheth

February 2526, 2017

Written by Ken Kaissar
Directed by Michael Malek Najjar

Jadi and Bassee live peacefully in an idyllic garden, except that the garden’s alleged owner comes to beat them every day. Jewish American writer David travels to Israel to better understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is soon mired in the cycles of violence and compassion that haunt everyday life. The Victims weaves together disparate styles and stories to dig into the parallel and often contradictory narratives of Palestinian and Israeli histories.

Performed as part of Semitic Commonwealth

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Urge for Going by R. Sheth

February 2425, 2017

Written by Mona Mansour
Directed by Anna C. Bahow

What do you do when the only way to live is to leave?

Jamila, a studious 17-year-old Palestinian growing up in a refugee camp in southern Lebanon, feverishly prepares for the university exam that is her only way out of the impoverished world she calls home. Urge for Going offers a variety of personalities and perspectives in a searing and funny family story.

Performed as part of Semitic Commonwealth

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