Founded in 2002 by husbands Malik Gillani and Jamil Khoury, Silk Road Theatre Project (now Silk Road Rising) began as an intentional and creative response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. We recognized that the consequences of that catastrophic day would reverberate for years to come, posing unique and urgent challenges for peoples of all backgrounds. Our goal was to leverage art as a tool for expanding representation, advancing pluralism, and promoting learning. Through the transformative power of storytelling we would build bridges and heal rifts.
Harnessing that power, we set out to challenge the ideology and hatred that fueled the 9/11 attacks and the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim backlash that immediately followed. Our vision was to counter negative images and stereotypes of Middle Eastern and Muslim peoples with representation grounded in authentic, multi-faceted, and patently human experiences. We’d center politics that were anti-racist, anti-colonial, and pro-feminist, and tell stories that were by us, about us, and for all.
Our focus quickly expanded beyond the Middle East to encompass the vast territory known historically as the Silk Road, a network of overland trade routes stretching from China to Syria, or Japan to Italy if you include the sea routes. The legacy of the Silk Road provides metaphors and narratives that inform our aesthetic and define our worldview.
Over the years, Silk Road Rising has emerged as an award winning, nationally recognized art-making and art service organization that shapes conversations about Asian and Middle Eastern Americans. Understanding that cultures are inherently linked, we highlight the intersections of cultures without undermining the specificities of cultures. And we strive to create a world that values art over ideology and inquiry over dogma.
*Silk Road Theatre Project and Silk Road Rising are both business names for Gilloury Institute, a 501c3 not-for-profit organization.