Written Essays

Crossing Orlando by R. Sheth

Omar Mateen made me gay. Well, not “made,” that honor belongs to God. But the homophobic mass murder Mateen committed on June 12, 2016, at Pulse, a popular LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida, reintroduced me and many others I know to earlier versions of our gay selves...

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Identity Nation: One Theatre Maker's Perspective by R. Sheth

Theatre makers are often called upon to respond to the challenges facing our world. It is assumed, rightfully so, that we contemplate those challenges, pose relevant questions, and conjure would-be “real life” scenarios through dramatized storytelling. And the global challenge I find most alluring? That beckoning gulf dividing nation-states and how they define national identity. I think a lot about nation-states and the cultures and identities they produce and export. Some of these polities are quite durable (including, I believe, the US), while many others won’t survive to see the 22nd century.

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Fears of the Artist by R. Sheth

Some people thought me heroic, even thanked me for being so brave. I had said what others thought but were afraid to speak. Afraid of retribution, afraid of never working again. And it was that expression of fear that I heard over and over again, usually couched within anecdotes, one more disturbing than the next...

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Humor Me Some Social Change by R. Sheth

My name is Jamil Khoury and I study the political utility of art. Too general. My name is Jamil Khoury and I study the diplomatic efficacy of theatre. Too ambiguous. My name is Jamil Khoury and I study the dialectics of storytelling and social change. Too academic. My name is Jamil Khoury and I study the empathic functions of humor. Whatever...

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Critical Praise for Racial Profiling: Responding to Hedy Weiss by R. Sheth

In her review of Silk Road Rising’s Midwest premiere production of Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s play INVASION! (August 6, 2013), Chicago Sun-Times theatre critic Hedy Weiss begins by asserting that “The global terror alerts dominating the news in recent days certainly do not help the arguments being made by Jonas Hassen Khemiri in his play, Invasion!...” It is from there that Hedy proceeds to make the case for racial profiling...

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Towards an Arab American Theatre Movement by R. Sheth

I want an Arab American theatre movement. I want an Arab American theatre movement that is vibrant and visible and daring and unafraid of its own power. I want an Arab American community that champions and supports our movement, and I want an American theatre that embraces and celebrates us. I want Arab American plays to be woven into the fabric of American storytelling...

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The Trouble with Mary by R. Sheth

For years I have bit my tongue about director Mary Zimmerman. After all, she is much beloved in Chicago theatre and has even been declared a “Genius.” I simply went ahead with my business, voicing the occasional criticism behind closed doors...

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