Silk Road Rising has announced its 15th anniversary season, which includes two world premieres.
First up is "Wild Boar" (Nov. 9-Dec. 17), written by Hong Kong playwright Candace Chong, translated by Joanna C. Lee and Ken Smith and adapted by David Henry Hwang. Helen Young will direct the thriller about the investigation that follows a controversial professor's disappearance.
The premiere of Novid Parsi's "Through the Elevated Line" (March 8-April 15, 2018) follows. Carin Silkaitis will direct the Chicago-set story about a gay Iranian man who ends up at his sister's home, as the Cubs are on the cusp of making history.
Another premiere follows with the one-woman show "Hollow/Wave" (May 17-May 27, 2018), written and performed by Anu Bhatt and directed by Barbara Zahora. Bhatt, a South Asian actor working in Chicago, explores issues of body image and identity.
The season also includes a number of staged readings: "Twice, Thrice, Frice" (Aug. 5-6), written by Fouad Teymour and directed by Kareem Fahey; "Jihad Against Violence: Oh ISIS Up Yours!" (Aug. 19-20), written by Fawzia Afzal-Khan and directed by George Potter; and "We Swim, We Talk, We Go to War" (Sept. 9-10), written by Mona Mansour and directed by Anna Bahow.
And in summer 2018, Hwang will curate staged readings of plays translated from Chinese to English.
Chicago brings a foreboding tale of fake news in U.S. premiere of WILD BOAR
“Post-Truth” was named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries in 2016. Though over a year later, the term is as relevant as ever. No doubt, theatre throughout Chicago, and the rest of the country, will reflect the tense political climate. Few are as fearless as Silk Road Rising’s Wild Boar. Though set in Hong Kong, it is frightening how relevant and translatable the topic of censorship is.
Bringing Wild Boar to the stage for the first time is Silk Road Rising, a company focused on making stories of/by Asian Americans and Middle Eastern Americans accessible to audiences of all cultural communities through live theater, education, and video.
In a post-factual society, what role does journalism play? In the world of Wild Boar, the blank columns in reputable newspapers say it all. Censorship, whether self-imposed or forced upon us by advertisers, journalists, or government agencies is dangerous.
What is real? What is the truth? What is left out?
The disappearance of an acclaimed, but controversial, professor brings that danger into the world of Wild Boar as colleagues try to uncover the truth.
Candace Chong’s writing captures the manipulation of journalism by political, economic, and social forces in Hong Kong. Between the White House media blackout and China’s censorship of Cambridge University’s academic articles, these issues transcend cultural barriers to wake English-speaking audiences. Adapting this bold piece is David Henry Hwang, a Tony Award-winning playwright known for M. Butterfly and Yellow Face.
But Wild Boar is not specific to the Hong Kong community or those who are well-versed in its complex history.
Dramaturg Carol Ann Tan helps anchor the piece through her deep understanding of Hong Kong politics. A few important facts going in: “Hong Kong has a history of being colonized," stated Cat. Originally controlled by the British, an agreement was reached with China in 1997 where all parties determined that Hong Kong and China would operate within two different governments but still be considered one country.
Underneath the politics and distinctly Hong Kong culture, are relatable relationships that one cannot help but connect with. Carol Ann Tan’s hope for the piece is to provoke the “audience to think about their relationship to truth”.
This goal of self-awareness is shared by director Helen Young. “ I think we have to be more vigilant in reexamining ourselves and how we contribute when deciding what gets to be said about the truth”. No matter where you stand on current events, this piece will leave you with much to discuss, as good art should.
If you want to be part of the conversation, the U.S. premiere of Wild Boar will run November 9th - December 17th at Silk Road Rising’s Downtown performance venue.
77 W Washington St
Chicago, IL 60602
Tickets are available at 312-857-1234 or www.wildboarplay.org
Silk Road Rising Presents WILD BOAR Preview – Noir Leaps onto the Chicago Stage
Silk Road Rising Goes Noir
Ask Helen Young, director of the upcoming Silk Road Rising production Wild Boar what noir is and she’ll advise that it’s far more than venetian blinds, detectives, and damsels in distress. More, think beyond the classic Hollywood flicks in that genre --Sunset Boulevard, Double or Indemnity Noir, she says, isn’t just for Hollywood; it belongs on the contemporary Chicago stage.
Written by Hong Kong playwright Candace Chong and adapted by David Henry Hwang (Tony Award winning playwright), Wild Boar is not just specific to one culture, or country. Its bold dialogue and Casablanca-worthy former flames strives to elevate the classic whoduneit mystery.
Producing the piece is Silk Road Rising, Chicago’s theater company dedicated to expanding representation of Asian American and Middle Eastern American.
Admittedly, some of us (this writer included) know little to nothing about Hong Kong’s political structure.
Because the themes of fake news and the current struggle of journalists are so universal to American audiences, the experience of seeing Wild Boar is geared to not be dependant on pre-knowledge of Hong Kong’s political scene. Still, taking the time to leaf through the program and dramaturg statement certainly won’t hurt.
Before Bogart or Hayworth, noir came from the twisted psyche of post-WWI Europe and the haunting light schemes of German Expressionism.“Noir came from worry and the uncertain fate of the world.. and from not knowing who is watching who”, observes Young.
As the investigation of a missing professor spirals, extreme shadow and overall design of Wild Boar externalizes the eerie tone within the story. The harsh contrast between light and shadow illuminate that classic struggle between good vs evil. “I’m interested in the way this play creates an inner dialogue. The questioning of ourselves, the questioning of how we use our voices and how we prevent voices. Who is doing the shadowing and who is being watched. That is what I’m intrigued by with Noir”, says Young.
Jamil Khoury, Silk Road Rising Artistic Director elaborates, “By pulling from this artistic style and strong Noir visuals, Wild Boar stands apart from everyday life. This divergence from realism allows the themes, the true fear that Tricia and Ruan face to wash over us. It is not your ordinary lighting design to match ordinary life. We are thrown into a hostile world of jagged shadows, of ‘journalism under siege’.. “
“The sound design is equally commanding as the stage design/lighting. The use of original music and more diegetic sounds bring the chaos of Hong Kong streets right to us. Sounds of chatter, construction, and daily life buzz around the space somehow quickening the pace of scenes.
“We do not live, write, or work in a vacuum. There are always news stories and background noises drawing us in. This bold use of sound adds a richness to the experience as it reminds us that theatre does not operate in a vacuum either. And neither do the characters. Even when Johnny wants to escape the chaos and sounds of the city, he can’t.
If we strip away the Hong Kong politics, the Noir visuals, the rumbling audio, Wild Boar still has that compelling hold over viewers as we savor the undeniable heat and biting repartee that only former lovers can have.
“We all want to believe that we’re doing art that matters and yet if you were to divorce this play from current politics, it would still be an absolute powerhouse of a story”.
November 9th - December 17th
Thursdays at 7:30pm
Fridays at 8:00pm
Saturdays at 4:00pm
Sundays at 4:00pm.
Silk Road Rising. Theater in the Chicago Temple Building
77 W Washington St
Chicago, IL 60602