2012

How to Crowdsource a Play by R. Sheth

Theater Mania
By Zachary Stewart
December 17, 2012

Jamil Khoury wants to talk with you about mosque politics. He wants to talk with you about the marginalization of Muslim-Americans in the wake of September 11th. In fact, the Silk Road Rising Artistic Director wants to talk about a lot of issues with a lot of people, more than can fit inside a theater. So, he's decided to do something unprecedented. In a medium in which the writer is often seen as God, an unquestionable font of dramatic genius, Jamil Khoury is crowdsourcing his play on the Internet.

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The Night Jesus Joined the Revolution by R. Sheth

December 7–9, 2012

Written by Fouad Teymour
Directed by Brian Golden

At the height of the Arab Spring, while a band of revolutionaries are embroiled in the fight of their lives to topple an oppressive regime and revive their country's dream of "Freedom, Dignity, and Social Justice!", they must contend with a fast-spreading rumor that Jesus has been sighted in the square. How will this apparition impact their battle? Will it catalyze the revolution or totally annihilate it?

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The House of Bernarda Alba by R. Sheth

Written by Federico Garcia Lorca
Adpated by Emily Mann
Directed by Lee Orchard
November 28-29, 2012

Following the death of Bernarda Alba’s second husband, she demands that her household mourn for eight years and postpones her eldest daughter’s upcoming wedding. Her five other daughters quickly become entranced with the handsome fiancé, Parviz Rumani. The decision to wed the eldest daughter is a strictly financial one, but it’s the youngest daughter who steals the young man’s heart. When the truth inevitably comes out, Bernarda Alba must try to maintain control—with tragic consequences.

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Night Over Erzinga by R. Sheth

Around the Town Chicago
By Al Bresloff
October 29, 2012

Night Over Erzinga is an amazing World Premiere written by the incredible Adriana Sevahn Nichols, a detailed story of one family over a period of three generations. The music by Peter J. Storms is sheer perfection to the moods being set in each of the scenes and the costuming (Elsa Hiltner) and lighting (Sarah Hughey) all add to the sheer magic of the production. 

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The Imam and The Homosexual by R. Sheth

Written and Directed by Jamil Khoury
October 23, 2012

“The Imam and The Homosexual” probes the “strange bedfellows” political alliance between Imam Mustafa Khan (played by Khurram Mozaffar), spiritual leader of a besieged Naperville, IL mosque, and Carl Baker (played by Nicholas Cimino), the gay son of the imam’s chief nemesis. As Imam Mustafa struggles to reconcile his support for civil rights with his religious and cultural objections to homosexuality, Carl imagines the Muslim and LGBT communities uniting against their common enemies. 

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Night Over Erzinga by R. Sheth

Talkin' Broadway
By John Olson
October 17, 2012

[The] greater resonance of Night Over Erzinga is that so many of our neighbors have tragedy or hardship in the family histories that brought them to North America. Seeing this play, we are gratefully reminded how much we can learn, in very human terms, about our world and our community.

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In Erzinga, forgetting and remembering the past by R. Sheth

Chicago Tribune
By Kerry Reid
October 17, 2012

Portes has assembled a terrific ensemble, with Sandra Delgado as young Alice and grown Ava doing some of the strongest work I've seen from her [...] And Lee Keenan's set, with its overarching tree branches and quotidian kitchen-tile floor, captures the mix of profound family history and daily frustration Nichols lays bare.

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Night Over Erzinga by R. Sheth

Gaper's Block
By Alice Singleton
October 15, 2012

Erzinga is not a story about genocide, but a story about the "collateral damage" of genocide; the shame and shaming of the victims; the stench and aroma of madness that infects and plunders until the victim finds the key -- the lynchpin -- to unshackle themselves, first by finding the ways to accept that bitter herbs rest next to the sweetness of honey and apples in this life, the lives that came before, and Erzinga must be seen and experienced for what it is -- a remarkable work that resonates through all of us with a buy-in to the Family of Humankind.

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Night Over Erzinga by R. Sheth

Showbiz Chicago
By Michael Roberts
October 15, 2012

Sandra Delgado is stellar as young Alice and later as Ava. She has an innate on stage vulnerability that allows her to have two fantastic character arcs. Nicholas Gamboa commands the second act. He is reactive, sultry and emotionally fraught. Gamboa has great on stage chemistry with Delgado, but even more so with Rom Barkhordar’s older Ardavazt. The rest of the cast also turn in remarkable work, including Levi Holloway as the younger Ardavazt, Carolyn Hoerdemann as Ardavazt’s saintly mother, Michael Salinas as a menacing Turkish soldier and the always stunning Diana Simonzadeh who will make you weep for the love of your own mother with her portrayal as the mortal (and ghostly) matriarchs. Director Lisa Portes trusts her actors immensely as it pays off with very real relationships.

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Night Over Erzinga by R. Sheth

Newcity Stage Chicago
By Johnny Oleksinski
October 14, 2012

The unfathomable atrocity of the Armenian Genocide is the catalyst of Nichols’ drama that pits cultural heritage against assimilation and the family’s continuance against the individual’s dream. Director Lisa Portes has underscored the tumult of those events with stylized deluges into the pair’s childhoods back in Armenia, accompanied by verbally and physically expressed poetics. Under Lee Keenan’s web of metaphoric tree branches, Nichols’ Alice actually bears a passing resemblance to Lewis Carroll’s—this Wonderland, however, far more treacherous.

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Night Over Erzinga by R. Sheth

October 9–November 11, 2012

The World Premiere
Written by Adriana Sevahn Nichols
Directed by Lisa Portes

Spanning from the Ottoman Empire to New York City, and across three generations of an Armenian and Dominican family, Adriana Sevahn Nichols' Night Over Erzinga explores how a man can lose everything but his heart, and how a grandmother can reach through time, unearth an untold story, and bring her children “home.” From collective tragedy to personal triumph, ancestors reunite with the living in a breathtakingly beautiful journey toward making peace with the past and reclaiming one’s heritage.

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The Balancing Arab by R. Sheth

Written by Jamil Khoury
Directed by Anne Jacques
September 11, 2012

"The Balancing Arab" tells the story of Heidi (played by Leslie Frame), an Irish American personal fitness trainer, and Hanan (played by Amira Sabbagh), her once morbidly obese Arab American client. Set in a downtown Chicago gym amidst a strenuous training session, the mood turns tense as the two women recount an event at the Arab American Cultural Center a few nights earlier, an event at which the evening’s political discourse got filtered through decidedly different lenses. 

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Traveling the Silk Road to the stage by R. Sheth

In the 2005 theater production of 10 Acrobats in an Amazing Leap of Faith, a strange thing happened to one audience member. The woman loved the play. The play, which told the story of an Egyptian family struggling to find its niche in American society, featured a genuinely loving relationship between a Muslim man and his wife.

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