First as Silk Road Theatre Project and now as Silk Road Rising, our company has been regaling Chicago audiences with full-length stage plays since 2003. The plays we produce are written by playwrights of Asian and Middle Eastern backgrounds and feature protagonists, or central characters, of Asian and Middle Eastern backgrounds.

In 2006, we were officially named the professional theatre-in-residence at the First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple (77 W Washington St, Chicago, IL), a collaboration that began back in 2003 shortly after our inaugural production. What emerged over time is a unique and dynamic partnership between a religious institution and a secular arts organization. To learn more, watch Sacred Stages: A Church, A Theatre, and A Story.

Please note that most of our productions are performed in our intimate, 85-seat theatre venue in Pierce Hall on the lower level of the Chicago Temple. The venues for performances that occurred at other locations, or in other spaces within the church building, are indicated.

Our production history is as follows (beginning with our most recent production and ending with our first production).

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March 11–April 7, 2019

Detour Guide

Written and Performed by Karim Nagi
Directed by Anna C. Bahow
Co-Produced with Stage Left Theatre


This one-man musical, co-produced with Stage Left Theatre, takes us on an alternative tour of the Arab World & Arab America. Using lyrics, percussion & an urban soundscape, master storyteller and musician Karim Nagi guides us through a social and political labyrinth, extolling the virtues of revolution, immigration, and hummus along the way.

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November 30–December 11, 2018

Christmas Mubarak

A Workshop Production
Adapted and Directed by Corey Pond
Music Direction by Emma Hospelhorn
Choir Direction by Erik Nussbaum

Christmas Mubarak is a first-of-its-kind musical / theatre interplay of the Quranic and New Testament stories that celebrate the miraculous birth of Jesus as told by Muslims and Christians. This festive holiday performance features actors from our Silk Road communities and choir members from the First United Methodist Church at The Chicago Temple.


May 17–27, 2018


A Workshop Production
Written and Performed by Anu Bhatt
Directed by Barbara Zahora

Anu Bhatt combines the personal with the poetic in her new one-woman show about depression, body image, and confronting sexual abuse. Seeking to balance and embrace two identities, Bhatt explores her South Asian American background with courage and insightful humor. A mix of raw memories, lyricism and tough truths, Hollow/Wave is a daring dance for empowerment through a sea of imperfection.


March 7–April 15, 2018

Through the Elevated Line

The World Premiere
Written by Novid Parsi
Directed by Carin Silkaitis

Having fled Iran where he was imprisoned for being a gay man, a damaged Razi arrives at his sister's doorstep in Chicago only to disrupt the life she and her American husband built together. As the Chicago Cubs vie to make history, rivalries of a different kind simmer in the Uptown two-flat that Razi tries to call home. With echoes of A Streetcar Named Desire, Novid Parsi's world premiere drama probes the boundaries between family, loss, prejudice, and desire.


November 9–December 17, 2017

Wild Boar

The US Premiere
Written by Candace Chong
Translated from Chinese to English by Joanna C. Lee and Ken Smith
Adapted by David Henry Hwang
Directed by Helen Young

A gripping investigation of journalistic integrity, city planning, and social conscience,Wild Boar is a new play from one of Hong Kong’s most acclaimed playwrights. When a controversial professor goes missing, an editor and his student band together to publicize the truth. Old flames spark and friendships are tested in this turbulent thriller about media manipulation, fake news, and who gets to speak for the poor.


May 11–July 2, 2017

Great Expectations

The US Premiere
A Co-Production with Remy Bumppo Theatre Company
Written by Charles Dickens
Adapted by Tanika Gupta
Co-Directed by Lavina Jadhwani and Nick Sandys

Dickens’ beloved tale of aspiration, intrigue, and romance is thrillingly transplanted to a colonized India by award-winning British Bengali playwright Tanika Gupta. When Indian orphan Pip receives a mysterious inheritance, he must choose between his humble rural life and the city life of an English “gentleman.” In a vibrant clash of cultures, classes, and conscience, Gupta's brilliant adaptation expands Dickens' enduring question: Is it worth losing who you are for who you might become?


December 1–23, 2016

Christmas at Christine's

The World Premiere
Written and Performed by Christine Bunuan
Directed by J.R. Sullivan
Musical Direction by Ryan Brewster

This new holiday musical revue puts a Silk Road spin on the Christmas season. Chicago favorite Christine Bunuan invites you into her world with Christmas at Christine's. Journey from California to Chicago to the Philippines to a Catholic-Jewish household as Christine sings her way through the holiday songbook and a lifetime of yuletide memories.


September 6–25, 2016

Ultra American: A Patriot Act

The World Premiere
Written and Performed by Azhar Usman
Directed by Aaron Todd Douglas

Famed comedian, Azhar Usman, takes to the stage with this brutally honest, unflinching one-man show exploring the tensions and paradoxes surrounding the double consciousness of Muslim Americans living in an ever-polarizing modern world.


March 24–May 15, 2016

Mosque Alert

The World Premiere
Written by Jamil Khoury
Directed by Edward Torres

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.


February 18–28, 2016

Ziryab, the Songbird of Andalusia

The World Premiere
Written and Performed by Ronnie Malley
Directed by Anna C. Bahow

Take an enchanting musical journey back to 9th century Islamic Spain with Muslim American musical impresario Ronnie Malley. Arabic music, poetry, and songs breathe life into the story of Ziryab, a former slave whose musical abilities brought him fame throughout Al-Andalus: a land where Christians, Jews and Muslims co-existed for over seven centuries and created a unique and diverse society.

November 19–22, 2015

My American Cousin

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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October 1–4, 2015

Yellow Dress

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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August 13–16, 2015

A Great Dive

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.


June 11–14, 2015


Written and Performed by Rohina Malik
Co-Directed by Wayne Maugans and Nick Westemeyer

Racism. Hate crimes. Love. Islam. Culture. Language. Life. Five Muslim women in a post-9/11 world serve tea and uncover what lies beneath the veil in this compelling one-woman show.

April 23–26, 2015


A Workshop Production
Written and Performed by Minita Gandhi
Directed by Heidi Stillman

The life of a young Indian American woman is forever changed when, on a retreat to her homeland, she unearths family secrets, encounters a prophet, and ultimately discovers her own voice. The familiar and the foreign swap roles in this dark comedy about culture, identity, spirituality, and sexuality.

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February 19–22, 2015

No Place Called Home

The Chicago Premiere
Written and Performed by Kim Schultz
Original Production Directed by Sarah Cameron Sunde

Falling in love with an Iraqi refugee was never part of Kim Schultz’s plan, but a man named Omar changed all that. No Place Called Home is that unexpected story—a story about an American woman and an Iraqi man, a story about one refugee in 2 million, a story that isn’t supposed to be a love story. 


October 16–November 23, 2014

The Hundred Flowers Project

The Midwest Premiere
Written by Christopher Chen
Directed by Joanie Schultz

Digital media becomes the perfect "ally" for a group of actors collectively creating a play about Mao Tse Tung's Cultural Revolution. As their work-in-progress starts morphing into a propaganda play about the play itself, disturbing questions arise as to who, or what, is controlling the narrative.


March 27–May 4, 2014


The Chicago Premiere
A Co-Production with About Face Theatre
Written by Aditi Brennan Kapil
Directed by Andrew Volkoff

In this provocative play masquerading as a stand-up comedy routine, an Indian intersex person explores history, mythology, gender roles... and high school. Brahman/i–funny, cynical, inventive and intensely charismatic–takes on more than a dozen unforgettable characters in a fascinating life story that most of us can barely even begin to imagine.


November 7–December 15, 2013


The World Premiere
Written by Motti Lerner
Translated from Hebrew to English by Hillel Halkin
Directed by Jimmy McDermott

A compassionate but wary 62-year-old Jesus and an egomaniacal Emperor Nero torment the ailing psyche of the Apostle Paul as he struggles to universalize monotheism against fierce opposition from a Jewish religious establishment threatened with spiritual extinction.


July 30–September 15, 2013


The Midwest Premiere
Written by Jonas Hassen Khemiri
Translated from Swedish to English by Rachel Willson-Broyles
Directed by Anna C. Bahow

Invasion! is a tornado of words, images and ideas, all centered around a magical name: Abulkasem. The play assaults our deepest prejudices about culture, race and language. At once hilarious, disturbing and poignant, this mischievously subversive play deconstructs a “threatening” identity–the Arab male–and forces us to confront our own complicated identities.


April 23–May 26, 2013

The Lake Effect

The World Premiere
Written by Rajiv Joseph
Directed by Timothy Douglas

In a depressed Cleveland neighborhood amidst a fierce winter storm, an Indian American brother and sister, long estranged, are reunited by the sudden death of their father. Enter their late father’s African American confidante and gambling bookie, and a slew of family secrets get unearthed. The Lake Effect sets in motion a complicated web of relationships and conflicts that challenge our perceptions of race, gender, and success.


October 9–November 11, 2012

Night Over Erzinga

A Rolling World Premiere
Written by Adriana Sevahn Nichols
Directed by Lisa Portes

Spanning from the Ottoman Empire to New York City, and 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.


April 4–May 6, 2012

Re-Spiced: A Silk Road Cabaret

The World Premiere
Conceived and Curated by Jamil Khoury
Directed by Steve Scott
Musical Direction by Ryan Brewster

Additional Performance on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Center for Performing Arts, Governors State University, 1 University Parkway, University Park, IL


Re-Spiced: A Silk Road Cabaret is a playful, sexy, occasionally subversive, always entertaining, musical pastiche of Asian and Middle Eastern images in American and British song and verse. From Broadway show tunes to pop, from country to rap, folk to rock, poetry to prose, Re-Spiced turns the tables on “us” and “them” with panache and glee and leaves us wondering just who’s who?


June 14–July 31, 2011

Yellow Face

The Chicago Premiere
Presented in Association with Goodman Theatre
Written by David Henry Hwang
Directed by Steve Scott

A revealing backstage comedy from the Tony Award-winning author of M. Butterfly, this ferociously funny, utterly unreliable memoir chronicles David Henry Hwang's struggle to define racial identity in the mixed-up melting pot of contemporary America. Part fact, part fiction, Yellow Face explores the pitfalls and promise of our "PC" world.


October 6–November 21, 2010


The Chicago Premiere
Written by Wajdi Mouawad
Translated from French to English by Linda Gaboriau
Directed by Dale Heinen

Carried aloft by poetic language and evocative imagery, Scorched unfolds in a dreamlike atmosphere connecting the origins of one family in startling and unforgettable ways. A brother and sister raised in Quebec must return to their mother’s war-torn country to carry out her last wishes–find the father and brother they never knew they had.


March 2–April 4, 2010

The DNA Trail: A Genealogy of Short Plays about Ancestry, Identity, and Utter Confusion

The World Premiere
Presented in Association with Goodman Theatre
Conceived by Jamil Khoury
Featuring Plays by Philip Kan Gotanda, Velina Hasu Houston, David Henry Hwang, Jamil Khoury, Shishir Kurup, Lina Patel, and Elizabeth Wong
Directed by Steve Scott

Additional Performance on Saturday, January 22, 2011 at Bovard Auditorium, University of Southern California, 3551 Trousdale Pkwy, Los Angeles, CA


Theatre meets science when a diverse group of playwrights each agree to take a genealogical DNA test and revisit their assumptions about identity, politics and the perennial "who am I" question. Self, family, community, and ethnicity are all up for grabs.


October 21–November 1, 2009

Silk Road Cabaret: Broadway Sings the Silk Road

The World Premiere
Conceived and Curated by Jamil Khoury
Directed by Elizabeth Margolius
Musical Direction by Gary Powell

Silk Road Cabaret: Broadway Sings the Silk Road features songs from popular Broadway musicals set along the Silk Road—from Pacific Overtures to Two Gentlemen of Verona to Jesus Christ Superstar to The King and I to Zorba to Miss Saigon, and many more in between. This bold and harmonious East-West interplay blends music with personal stories and showcases performers of diverse backgrounds as they claim, reclaim, subvert, and poke fun at a host of old favorites from the Broadway repertoire.


March 19–May 10, 2009

Pangs of the Messiah

The Midwest Premiere
Written by Motti Lerner
Translated from Hebrew to English by Anthony Berris
Directed by Jennifer Green

Set in 2012 amidst the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians, Motti Lerner’s Pangs of the Messiah is an apocalyptic yet fiercely humane drama about eight West Bank Jewish settlers pitted against an Israel they feel has betrayed them. The play focuses on a religious family that finds itself torn between fighting to stay in their settlement and obeying their government’s decision to dismantle it. Left hanging in the balance is the legacy of their beliefs.


September 18–November 2, 2008


The Midwest Premiere
Presented in Association with Goodman Theatre
Written by Philip Kan Gotanda
Directed by Steve Scott

Additional Performances Thursday, November 20 through Sunday, November 23, 2008, at Meiley-Swallow Hall, North Central College, 31 S Ellsworth St, Naperville, IL


A divorced Japanese woman and an African American GI meet in post-World War II Japan and fall in love. After decades of struggle, they have found an accepting Los Angeles suburb to call home—but their peaceful world is changing. More than a study of clashing cultures, Yohen is the poetic, resonant story of two partners who discover that intimate relationships change with environments and that love, however time-tested, is never constant.


May 1–June 15, 2008


The Midwest Premiere
Written by Julia Cho
Directed by Carlos Murillo

To the outside world, the Lee boys look like the perfect Korean American sons: Isaac plans to be a doctor and his younger brother, Jimmy, is a champion swimmer with a bright future. But when their widowed father, Boo-Seng, decides to take them on a road trip to Durango, Colorado, all three find themselves grappling with old memories and unhealed wounds.


February 21–March 30, 2008

Our Enemies: Lively Scenes of Love and Combat

The World Premiere
Written by Yussef El Guindi
Directed by Patrizia Lombardi Acerra

A darkly humorous and sensual look at identity, media-representation, love, and lust in the Arab American community. Fueled by frustration over the limited Arab voices in the US media, a struggling writer, Gamal, engages in a prank campaign to shake up the system. But those in power have a way of turning the tables. When Gamal's lover, Noor, is convinced by a prominent publisher to alter her novel to satisfy Western hunger for "Orientalist" fare, Gamal lashes out at his own community. The results are staggering.


September 15–November 18, 2007

Merchant on Venice

The World Premiere
Written by Shishir Kurup
Directed by Stuart Carden

In Shishir Kurup’s Merchant on Venice, Venice, Italy intersects with L.A.’s Venice Boulevard in a wickedly funny, wildly inventive and politically provocative re-imagining of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Written in iambic pentameter and vividly colored by Indian, American, and Latinx pop references, playwright Kurup transforms Shakespeare’s original by injecting the story with Bollywood musical numbers, L.A. Punk, Hindu-Muslim tensions, and a distinctly American landscape.


March 1–May 6, 2007

Golden Child

The Midwest Premiere
Written by David Henry Hwang
Directed by Stuart Carden

Set in China in the early 1900's, the Obie Award winning Golden Child tells the story of Eng Tieng-Bin, a wealthy merchant who returns from abroad filled with Western ideas, Christian beliefs, and hopes of liberating China from its superstitious past.


October 7–November 26, 2006


The World Premiere
Written by Richard Vetere
Directed by Dale Heinen

Set in 17th century Rome, Malta, and Naples, Caravaggio is the story of the great Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, the father of the Baroque, whose daring art and volatile personality attracted the favor and wrath of the church he both loved and reviled.


April 4–May 28, 2006

Back of the Throat

The Midwest Premiere
Written by Yussef El Guindi
Directed by Stuart Carden

Two government officials pay an Arab American man, Khalid, a seemingly innocuous visit. What begins as a "friendly" inquiry soon devolves into a chilling, full-blown investigation of Khalid's presumed ties to terrorists.


October 13–December 30, 2005
Performed in James Parlor, Chicago Temple

Ten Acrobats in an Amazing Leap of Faith

The World Premiere
Written by Yussef El Guindi
Directed by Stuart Carden

See the Fawzis, an Egyptian immigrant family in southern California struggling to find their place within American society. Marvel as they painstakingly navigate inter-generational conflict, their Islamic faith, and the values of two cultures.


July 18, 2003–April 20, 2005
Performed in 16 venues across the US

Precious Stones: The College Tour

Written by Jamil Khoury
Directed by Gregory Gerhard, Gail Dartez, Anna C. Bahow, and Justin D.M. Palmer

Precious Stones boldly examines the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the "safe" yet turbulent terrain of American Diaspora. Set in Chicago in 1989, the story unfolds against a backdrop of disturbing images, as the First Palestinian Intifadah rages in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Two women, one Jewish and one Palestinian, join forces to organize an Arab-Jewish dialogue group, only to find themselves falling in love. As they each cross "enemy lines," they stumble upon the disputed territories of sexuality and class.


January 14–February 29, 2004
Performed at Loop Theatre, 8 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL


The Midwest Premiere
Written by Velina Hasu Houston
Directed by Lynn Ann Bernatowicz

Set in 1950's small town Kansas, Tea tells the story of four women who come together to clean the house of a fifth after her tragic suicide upsets the balance of life in their small Japanese immigrant community. The spirit of the dead woman returns as a ghostly ringmaster to force the women to come to terms with the disquieting tension of their lives and find common ground. Her destiny requires she escape the limbo between life and death, and move on to the next world in peace, carving a future passage for the others.

January 16–March 2, 2003
Performed at Studio Theatre, Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E Washington St, Chicago, IL

Precious Stones

The World Premiere
Written by Jamil Khoury
Directed by Michael Malek Najjar

Precious Stones boldly examines the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the "safe" yet turbulent terrain of American Diaspora. Set in Chicago in 1989, the story unfolds against a backdrop of disturbing images, as the First Palestinian Intifadah rages in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Two women, one Jewish and one Palestinian, join forces to organize an Arab-Jewish dialogue group, only to find themselves falling in love. As they each cross "enemy lines," they stumble upon the disputed territories of sexuality and class.