Looks Like Chicago
The Looks Like Chicago project is an initiative of Silk Road
Theatre Project. Founded as a direct response to the perceptions
of Arab Americans and Muslim Americans after the terrorist
attacks of September 11, 2001, Silk Road Theatre Project has,
since its inception, been dedicated to promoting diversity
and cross-cultural dialogue in its home city of Chicago.
Propelled in part by an on-going conversation between Time
Out Chicago journalist Novid Parsi and Silk Road co-founders
Malik Gillani and Jamil Khoury, Time Out Chicago devoted its
cover story on July 27, 2006 to a compelling article written
by Parsi and Christopher Piatt entitled "Why is Chicago
Theatre so White, and how can we fix it?" The article
posited that in a city with no ethnic or racial majority,
Chicago's theatre scene does not reflect Chicago's diversity;
it does not, in effect, look like Chicago.
Gillani and Khoury thus took up the challenge they themselves
helped articulate and created a bold and unprecedented initiative
called Looks Like Chicago. The aim of Looks Like Chicago is
not to attract more white audiences to "ethnic"
theatres, or to attract audiences of color to traditionally
"white" institutions. Rather, Looks Like Chicago
celebrates the entire spectrum of theatre in Chicago, and
strives not only to bring new audiences to each of the participating
theatres, but also to create an ongoing dialogue about the
nature of diversity on Chicago's stages.
The four theaters participating in the inaugural year of Looks
like Chicago each have a specific niche: Congo Square Theatre
Company is committed to producing works spawned from the African
Diaspora; Remy Bumppo specializes in European-American and
British plays; Silk Road Theatre Project showcases playwrights
of Asian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean backgrounds; and
Teatro Vista "Theatre with a View" is committed
to sharing the riches of Latino culture and the diversity
of Latino experience. The four participating companies are
rooted in the communities and experiences they represent.
All four share a commitment to cultural authenticity and artistic
integrity, and each is endowed with a unique voice, perspective,
and aesthetic. Throughout the season, Looks Like Chicago members
will experience the work of each of these exciting Chicago
theaters, becoming a participant in a truly multi-cultural
experience of Chicago's rich diversity. At the end of the
season, participants will come together at a special Town
Hall Meeting to discuss their experiences attending Looks
Like Chicago performances, as well as the future of diversity
on Chicago's stages.