My American Cousin by R. Sheth

November 19–22, 2015

A Workshop Production
Written and Performed by Jameeleh Shelo
Directed by Jessica Mitolo

Through a diverse group of characters, this sketch comedy show offers a lovable view into the life of a Middle Eastern American woman from the South Side of Chicago as she navigates her way through cultural pressures and societal assumptions. What happens when the Mid-East meets the Mid-West? The answers will fill you with laughter and joy! 

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A Contrarian View: Race, Representation, and Islamophobia in Ayad Akhtar’s "Disgraced" by R. Sheth

The 2015-16 theatre season represents a first in American theatre history. A play written by a Muslim American playwright of Pakistani heritage will receive more productions nationwide than any other play. In fact, Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced is the first play ever to feature a Muslim protagonist (apostate or otherwise) to have garnered this level of attention and acclaim. From Chicago’s American Theatre Company, to Lincoln Center, to London’s West End, to Broadway, to a Tony nomination, to scheduled productions at over 50 U.S. theatre companies, to an HBO film deal, to foreign language translations, Disgraced has become nothing short of an international phenomenon. And yet, the play’s resounding success begs an obvious question: Why is a play that affirms so many popular fears about Muslims the toast of the American theatre season? 

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: An Assault, A Critique, and A Truce
by R. Sheth

The staff at Silk Road Rising crafted a set of questions for me about Ayad Akhtar’s play Disgraced. I found them immensely cathartic to answer. Many of the ideas and opinions expressed below will be integrated and expanded upon in a soon-to-released larger piece that I’ve been developing with South Asian American scholars Fawzia Afzal-Khan and Neilesh Bose.

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Mosque Alert by R. Sheth

October 20, 2015

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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Yellow Dress by R. Sheth

October 1–4, 2015

A Workshop Production
Written and Performed by Marissa Lichwick
Directed by Lavina Jadhwani

Born out of her experiences growing up as a Korean-adoptee in a family of ten in upstate New York, this coming-of-age, one-woman show follows two orphans through the streets of South Korea, into the suburban American heartland, and their fortuitous journey back. Back to Korea, back to their past.

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Silk Road Goes on the Road With Big Grant by R. Sheth

by Jonathan Abarbanel, Footlights 
September 2015

Silk Road Rising has received $150,000 Nation Grant (the largest grant in its history) from ArtPlace (sic) America, a consortium of foundations, financial institutions, and federal agencies. The grants are made to support the arts in a specific place within a community with the intent of having a broader impact on that community. For example, it might be a mosque in Naperville—and that's precisely it in this instance as Silk Road develops new work Mosque Alert, by Artistic Director Jamil Khoury. He explains Mosque Alert is "an artistic and civil engagement project that dramatizes the difficulties Muslims face across the country, due to Islamophobia and cultural biases, when attempting to build houses of worship." Khoury says it was inspired by the 2011 "Ground Zero" controversy in New York City. Over the next 18 months, Silk Road Rising will use the Old Nichols Library in downtown Naperville as its fictional mosque. They will work with community partners to generate community-wide conversations that examine fears associated with the building of a mosque—fictional or otherwise—in a Western community. Khoury will use this input to further shape the play. Mosque Alert will receive its world premiere production next March at Silk Road Rising's permanent theatre in The Loop.

PLEASE NOTE: This article was originally printed in Footlights, September 2015.

Read the article in PDF format here.

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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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A Great Dive by R. Sheth

August 13–16, 2015

A Workshop Production
Written and Performed by Puja Mohindra
Directed by Andrew Volkoff

Geeta Gidwani doesn’t want the arranged marriage her parents have. She’s an American girl and wants to fall madly in love, like she’s seen in Shakespeare, Bollywood movies and her favorite show, Friends. But after a family trip to a holy Indian temple inspires her to wish for a soulmate, she meets Manish, standing at the corner of tradition and fairytale.

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Eastern Christians: Commemorating Genocide, Confronting the Future by R. Sheth

Moderated by Jamil Khoury
Featuring Nairee Hagopian, Dr. Kamal Ibrahim, Dr. Nabeel Khoury, Deacon George Kourieh, and Dr. Khalil Marrar
August 6, 2015

The panel discussion, Eastern Christians: Commemorating Genocide, Confronting the Future was held at Silk Road Rising on Thursday, August 6, 2015. The panel featured panelists from Arab Christian, Armenian, Coptic, Muslim, and Syriac communities. They were asked to reflect on the centennial of the Armenian, Aramean/Assyrian, and Greek Genocides, and discuss present day challenges confronting Christians in Egypt, Iraq, Syria and beyond.

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Penuel: The Sammy Lee Story by R. Sheth

June 1112, 2015

Written by David Rhee
Directed by Steve Scott

Twelve-year-old Sammy Lee watches divers leap gracefully into the public swimming pool and feels an overwhelming desire to try diving himself. But as a Korean American, Sammy (like any person of color) can use the pool only once a week. Young Sammy would never guessed that, sixteen short years later, he would become the first Asian American ever to win Olympic gold.

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after all the terrible things I do by R. Sheth

May 1617, 2015

Written by A. Rey Pamatmat
Directed by Lavina Jadhwani

An ordinary job interview at a local bookstore becomes much more as store owner Linda and aspiring writer Daniel realize that their connections go far deeper than a shared love of literature. Together they will have have to face the trauma of their past—but can they find forgiveness?

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