Silk Road Theatre Project Begins 2010 Season With THE DNA TRAIL 3/4-4/11/2010

Silk Road Theatre Project Begins 2010 Season With THE DNA TRAIL 3/4-4/11/2010

Silk Road Theatre Project will begin its 2010 season with the World Premiere of THE DNA TRAIL: A Genealogy of Short Plays about Ancestry, Identity, and Utter Confusion, conceived by SRTP's artistic director Jamil Khoury, commissioned by Silk Road Theatre Project, directed by Steve Scott, and featuring new plays by Philip Kan Gotanda, Velina Hasu Houston, David Henry Hwang, Jamil Khoury, Shishir Kurup, Lina Patel, and Elizabeth Wong.

Theatre meets science when a diverse group of playwrights each agree to take a genealogical DNA test and revisit their assumptions about identity politics and the perennial "who am I" question. Self, family, community, and ethnicity are all up for grabs in this perception-defying collection of short plays.

THE DNA TRAIL will be presented in association with the Goodman Theatre and run March 4 - April 11, 2010, in Pierce Hall at The Historic Chicago Temple Building, 77 W. Washington St, Chicago. The press opening is Saturday, March 13 at 4:00pm.

Currently in development, this highly collaborative process involves three visits to Chicago by the playwrights. The first visit took place July 18 - 20, 2008 and involved meetings with scientists, geneticists, DNA counselors, and DNA ethicists, as well as interpretation of each playwright's genealogical DNA test results. The second visit will occur August 28 - 30, 2009 and involve intensive workshopping of the short plays; and the final visit will occur in January 2010 during the first week of production rehearsals. A press conference will be held during the playwrights' third visit in January 2010.

Silk Road Theatre Project has produced and/or commissioned all seven playwrights participating in THE DNA TRAIL, including the world premieres of Jamil Khoury's Precious Stones (2003) and Shishir Kurup's Merchant on Venice (2007), the Midwest premieres of Velina Hasu Houston's Tea (2004), David Henry Hwang's Golden Child (2007), and Philip Kan Gotanda's Yohen (2008), and staged readings of Velina Hasu Houston's Calling Aphrodite (2005), Elizabeth Wong's China Doll (2005), and Lina Patel's Sankalpan (2007). In 2008, SRTP commissioned playwright Elizabeth Wong to write Dragon/Sky, a children's play tentatively scheduled for production in summer of 2011. SRTP is currently discussing a new play commission with playwright Lina Patel.

THE DNA TRAIL marks the second collaborative partnership between Silk Road Theatre Project and the Goodman Theatre, following our 2008 partnership on Gotanda's Yohen (2008), also directed by Goodman Theatre Associate Producer Steve Scott. Dramaturgical support for the seven new plays is being provided by Tanya Palmer, Literary Manager at the Goodman Theatre, and Neena Arndt, Literary Associate at the Goodman Theatre.

Development support for The DNA Trail provided by: The Albert Pick, Jr. Fund; the MAP Fund: a program of Creative Capital, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation; and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Production support provided by: Sara Lee Foundation; Chicago Community Trust; and the National Endowment for the Arts.

"The impetus for The DNA Trail was a desire for creative space in which playwrights of Asian and Middle Eastern backgrounds could enlist our craft in exploring questions of ancestry, identity, and representation, and perhaps re-think some of the nuanced meanings surrounding those questions. My objective was to move beyond the "narrow" confines of American identity politics and family narratives, and engage our respective backgrounds with the aid of modern science and genetics. The hope was to muster science, and in particular, a contested field of scientific inquiry, genealogical DNA testing, to spur creativity. Thus arose the idea of commissioning a group of playwrights, including myself, to each take a genealogical DNA test (not to be confused with medical or criminal or paternity DNA testing) and then each write a short play inspired, loosely or otherwise, by our test results, or the process itself. As genealogical DNA tests reveal the migratory patterns of generations past, the belief was that these tests would challenge some of our dearly held notions of who we are and where we're from, and in turn challenge us as artists. Furthermore, as each of the participating playwrights has devoted considerable time to pondering that "who am I" question, and how it intersects with American definitions of race and ethnicity and assimilation, I believe that this collection of short plays is poised to contribute to our national conversation in a matter that is artful and entertaining and provocative."-Artistic Director Jamil Khoury

Silk Road Theatre Project showcases playwrights of Asian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean backgrounds, whose works address themes relevant to the peoples of the Silk Road and their Diaspora communities. Through the creation and presentation of outstanding theatre, we aim to promote discourse and dialogue among multi-cultural audiences in Chicago. For more information visit:


Related Articles

Chicago THEATER Stories | Shows  Like BWW Chicago  Follow BWW Chicago

From This Author BWW News Desk

Before you go...