Working in the Theatre: In the Field – Silk Road Rising

[music] A creative conversation is essentially a
facilitated conversation around a video, play, or film. The idea is to really
flesh out the themes the issues address, the content of the video in a
very interactive, participatory manner.>Strong enough to take risks and think
outside the box.>Then why does the status quo fear me and not you.>The status quo has assimilated you, multiculturalism. You’ve become cosmetic, a photo-op
a Benetton ad. Art imitating life, life imitating me.
I don’t want to be an
imitation I’m more interested in the interchange of cultures.
>So we make all of our digital content available online for free, however there is great value to
sitting in a room with a group of people and engaging in a conversation that
builds context and discourse around that work of art.>You’re complicated.
>Learning is scary. Questioning is scary.
Challenging deeply held beliefs is scary.>This is what an arab-american looks like.
[Overlapping the same sentence].>How you really draw them in or you find that more conservative
audiences typically view a show like this? Well, that is an ongoing challenge.
That’s a conundrum in the world of theatre. You know, all too often you’re either
preaching to the converted or you know it’s very kind of self-selecting.
>It’s very easy to live in a silo or in a bubble of sorts and I spend a great
deal of time in my own bubble which is oftentimes an echo chamber of sorts and
so breaking out of those parameters breaking out of those confines and
really hearing from people who have different perspectives and different
experiences, I think makes me a better chief programming officer, it makes me
a better artist, it makes me a better storyteller.>That’s the great thing about
this country anyone can become an American. It’s not about blood; it’s about
ideals and beliefs and shared values That’s the beauty of the American melting pot.
>Yeah well I don’t want to be thrown into a pot and melted, okay?
We’re not fondue we’re a freakin salad bowl.>I think that there’s a lot of
discussions, there’s a lot of issues that people feel either afraid to address or
somehow inhibited or everyone’s looking for the “right language” or the “right position”
and we don’t want to be part of that problem.>We’ve been misrepresented,
distorted, contradicted, taken out of context and we have been co-opted by patriarchal politics.
>[All chant things like “Boo Patriarchy!”] We want to be part of a solution in which we use stories,
we use art, we use artistic content as a way of loosening up and in many ways freeing
individuals to come together as a collective and and share their thoughts.>I’m American. I’m Arab. I’m Palestinian. I’m Muslim. I’m Chicagoan. I’m an accountant. I’m a piano player.>Don’t tell me that I am inauthentic. Not real enough. Not you enough. I don’t want to be you. I am authentically me. We are responding to a story, we’re
responding to a work of art not only on an intellectual level and I’m not
discounting the intellectual level but also on a visceral and emotional a
spiritual level and we are somehow seeing ourselves in characters, in
conflict, in the story that’s playing out before us. So, by appealing to empathy
and by appealing to our sense of connectedness and interdependence, we’re
able to start examining our fears, examining our hesitation, perhaps, and
examining our own perceptions and assumptions about each other.>I guarantee that the relationships between cultures are peaceful and equitable.
>Your ideas, not mandates. Culture is dynamic, it changes and evolves.
You want to understand me.>I think that we are lifetime learners and we are
continuously engaged in a process of learning and sort of self enlightenment
and enrichment so I benefit personally from those kind of encounters and that
kind of exposure. We talk a lot about bridges of understanding, we talk a
lot about empathy, and we really believe that art is is the greatest catalyst for
for creating connections.

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