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Silk Road Winds Its Way Home

By Justin Sondak in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 10, 2006 4:11PM

srtp.gifThe Silk Road Theatre Project is truly blessed. Dedicated to showcasing Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Asian playwrights chronicling the people of the Silk Road and their descendents, the company took residence in the First United Methodist Church (a.k.a. The Chicago Temple) three years ago. Despite religious differences, church and company leadership forged a mutual respect born out of shared goals. Both groups value storytelling as a powerful tool to foster harmony in a diverse society. And so last year, Silk Road inked an agreement with the church to refashion its basement into the company’s permanent home, a 99-seat theater complete with lobby space and technologically equipped conference rooms. Here’s the best part: the church would spend $1.4 million while the company put up $100,000, which they’d get from an interest-free loan, to make this possible.

At tomorrow night’s open house, the Silk Road Theatre Project invites Chicago to see what happens when a Methodist congregation and Muslim American theater professionals work together. The catered affair celebrates the new space and its inaugural production, Yussef El Guindi's “Back of the Throat,” a Kafkaesque tale of an Arab-American interrogated by an Unnamed Agency shortly after 9/11. The absorbing story of government power run amuck stirred our indignation while humanizing the hysteria gripping our country in the days following the World Trade Center attacks, reminding us how we too often seek false comfort in tidy explanations.

The Silk Road Theatre Company's Open House is at the Chicago Temple, 77 West Washington St, Tuesday night from 5:30 - 8:30pm. Back of the Throat plays in the same space Thursdays - Sundays through May 28 (no performances April 15-16). More information at