Evanston Review - Mount Prospect Native Humanizes Israel-Palestine Conflict with “Semitic Commonwealth”

Evanston Review - Mount Prospect Native Humanizes Israel-Palestine Conflict with “Semitic Commonwealth”

Jamil Khoury, who grew up in Mount Prospect, has co-curated a staged reading series to humanize the toll of the decades-long conflict between Israel and Palestine. The series, titled "Semitic Commonwealth," features six playwrights of Jewish and Arab backgrounds and will run at Silk Road Rising, a theatre in the Chicago Loop, from February 10th to February 26th. Featuring a talented team of actors and directors whose work spans Chicagoland and its suburbs, this three-weekend series is poised to be as emotionally affecting as it is politically relevant.

The creative team of "Semitic Commonwealth" is large in both scope and talent. Actors in the series include Sami Ismat, a resident of Evanston, Rachel Silvert, who has been seen on stage in Skokie, Janet Ulrich Brooks, who has performed at Northlight in Skokie, and Steve Silver, who has graced several stages in Skokie and Glenview. The pieces are directed by Jess McLeod, who earned her MFA from Northwestern University in Evanston, as well as Jonathan Green, Anna Bahow, and series co-curator and lead director Michael Malek Najjar.

Picture This Post - Silk Road Rising SEMITIC COMMONWEALTH Preview —Putting a Human Face on Israel-Palestine Conflict

Picture This Post - Silk Road Rising SEMITIC COMMONWEALTH Preview —Putting a Human Face on Israel-Palestine Conflict

Britain refuses to sign a declaration for a “two state solution” at a Paris summit...

President Donald Trump declares that Jerusalem is the rightful capital of Israel...

Is it any wonder that many people are wondering anew if the intractable Israel-Palestine conflict can possibly be resolved in the next century?

Silk Road Rising, a theatre located in the heart of Chicago’s Loop, hopes to spark resolution through humanizing the region’s decades-long dispute. Their upcoming series, “Semitic Commonwealth,” featuring six plays by Arab and Jewish playwrights, explores the human themes of identity, occupation, home, and exile that underscore both sides of the conflict’s human toll.

Rather than argue that one side is right and another is wrong, series curators Jamil Khoury, Michael Malek Najjar, and Corey Pond have programmed Arab and Jewish plays in conversation with one another to illustrate the human cost at the heart of the issue. 

Forward - In Chicago Theatre, The Play’s the Thing for Both Sides in Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Forward - In Chicago Theatre, The Play’s the Thing for Both Sides in Israel-Palestinian Conflict

By Aimee Levitt. 

n Kaissar was born in Ramat Gan, Israel, and grew up in a right-wing Jewish household in Indianapolis. His father fought in three Israeli wars—1956, 1967, and 1973—and growing up, Kaissar was told that Israel was in perpetual danger and that, as he put it, “the Arabs wanted to kill us and destroy us.” As he grew older and left home, he found that other people understood the Middle Eastern conflict much differently. In that version of the story, it was the Israelis who were the oppressors. Kaissar is a playwright, and so he thought he would work through his feelings about these two vastly disconnected narratives by writing. In 2008, he took a research trip to Israel and decided he would listen to anyone who would take the time to talk to him. He spoke with Jews and Palestinians, with teachers and workers, and activists from the group Combatants for Peace.
 

PerformInk - SEMITIC COMMONWEALTH Lineup Announced at Silk Road Rising

PerformInk - SEMITIC COMMONWEALTH Lineup Announced at 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.”