SEMITIC COMMONWEALTH Lineup Announced at Silk Road Rising

SEMITIC COMMONWEALTH Lineup Announced at Silk Road Rising

Photo: The main entrance to the Historic Chicago Temple Building, and to Silk Road Rising.

Silk Road Rising will present “Semitic Commonwealth,” a staged reading series comprised of six plays by Arab and Jewish playwrights” exploring the human toll of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” February 10th – 26th.

“Where politicians and diplomats fail, artists and storytellers may yet succeed,” says Silk Road Rising founding artistic director Jamil Khoury. “Not in ratifying a peace treaty between Israel and Palestine, but in building the sort of social and political connectivity that enables resolution. We have curated ‘Semitic Commonwealth’ not with timelines, statistics, and SWOT analyses, but a laser sharp focus on the personal prices paid by those most affected.”

“Semitic Commonwealth” was curated by Michael Malek Najjar, Corey Pond, and Jamil Khoury. The series features Scenes From “69* Years” by Hannah Khalil, “The Admission” by Motti Lerner, “The Zionists” by Zohar Tirosh-Polk, “Tennis in Nablus” by Ismail Khalidi, “Urge for Going” by Mona Mansour, and “The Victims” by Ken Kaissar. Each play will receive two staged readings at Silk Road Rising. Khoury says “These plays do not march in lockstep, but are dynamic, original, challenging, provocative, complicated, funny, painful, and sometimes controversial. The plays vary wildly in thematic content, dramatic structure, and time and place, and pose difficult questions without presuming to offer answers.”

Michael Malek Najjar is serving as lead director for “Semitic Commonwealth” and will direct “The Victims,” “The Admission,” and “Tennis in Nablus.” Other directors include Jess McLeod, who will direct Scenes from “69* Years,” Jonathan L. Green, who will direct “The Zionists,” and Anna C. Bahow, who will direct “Urge for Going.”

About the plays (from the press release):

Scenes from “69* Years” by Hannah Khalil, Directed by Jess McLeod
Friday, February 10, 2017 at 8:00pm
Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 4:00pm
A picnic interrupted by soldiers. Sunbathing in the shadow of a tank. Life can be unpredictable under occupation. Told with typical Palestinian black humour, Scenes from 69* Years is an epic snapshot of life in Palestine, then and now. Forget suicide belts and stone-hurling youths—here the real human story is revealed: the dreams, humor, sadness, and obstacles of daily life in the shadow of the ‘separation wall’.

“The Admission” by Motti Lerner, Directed by Michael Malek Najjar
Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 8:00pm
Sunday, February 12, 2017 at 4:00pm
The Admission is a political drama about the conflicting narratives of the 1948 war. Some called it a war of independence and some called it a catastrophe. Forty years later, a proposal to build on the site of a battle digs up family secrets and stirs tensions between two families, one Jewish and one Palestinian. This work of historical fiction asks how we can move forward toward peace while still wrestling with the ghosts of war.

“The Zionists” by Zohar Tirosh-Polk, Directed by Jonathan L. Green
Friday, February 17, 2017 at 8:00pm
Saturday, February 18, 2017 at 4:00pm
Moving backwards and forwards through time, The Zionists explores the effects of relocation, war, and loss on an Israeli family across multiple generations. Interspersed with songs from a hard rock band, this play gives voice to a host of expressive characters who are unafraid to speak their minds.

“Tennis” in Nablus by Ismail Khalidi, Directed by Michael Malek Najjar
Saturday, February 18, 2017 at 8:00pm
Sunday, February 19, 2017 at 4:00pm
Set in Nablus in the spring of 1939, Tennis in Nablus brings to life the last days of the Arab Revolt as the people of Palestine attempt for one last time to drive out the British. With both deep passion and bold humor, it is a genre-bending look at Palestine’s embattled status through the eyes of an unflagging rebel, a tireless polemicist and an ambitious entrepreneur. With their world igniting around them, this divided family faces their own demons as they seek to achieve peace, freedom, and dignity.

“Urge for Going” by Mona Mansour, Directed by Anna C. Bahow
Friday, February 24, 2017 at 8:00pm
Saturday, February 25, 2017 at 4:00pm
What do you do when the only way to live is to leave? Jamila, a studious 17-year-old Palestinian girl growing up in a refugee camp in southern Lebanon, feverishly prepares for the university exam that is her only way out of the impoverished world she calls home. Urge for Going offers a variety of personalities and perspectives in this searing and funny family story.

“The Victims” by Ken Kaissar, Directed by Michael Malek Najjar
Saturday, February 25, 2017 at 8:00pm
Sunday, February 26, 2017 at 4:00pm
Jadi and Bassee live peacefully in an idyllic garden, if not for the fact that the alleged owner of the garden comes to beat them every day. Jewish American writer David travels to Israel to better understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and is soon mired in the cycles of violence and compassion that haunt everyday life. The Victims weaves these two disparate styles and stories to dig into the parallel and often contradictory narratives of Palestinian and Israeli histories.


Tickets are $10 General Admission. For tickets or more information, please visit or call the Silk Road Rising Box Office at 312.857.1234 x201.

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