Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-03-21
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



THEATER Gay playwright lays it on the 'Line' with latest project
by Lauren Emily Whalen

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Novid Parsi identifies with Blanche DuBois.

He's a gay Iranian-American playwright, living in Chicago with his husband. She's a straight Southern belle, lost and tortured, living in New Orleans with her sister. But in Parsi's new play, Through the Elevated Line, Blanche's story in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire plays a pivotal role.

"Very early on while writing this play, I realized I was conjuring up the classic triangle of A Streetcar Named Desire: an outsider disrupting the home of a sibling and her husband," Parsi told Windy City Times via email. "[My main character] Razi Gol, like Blanche DuBois, is an unwanted traveler: caught between two worlds, accepted by neither. I decided to embrace that influence by reimagining Williams' powerful play and making it my own. Through its echoes of Streetcar, Through the Elevated Line shows how attitudes to our own Blanches … have progressed, and how they have remained the same."

Through the Elevated Line ( which begins previews March 7 with Silk Road Rising ) tells the story of Razi, an Iranian man who's recently immigrated to Chicago and is staying with his sister, Soraya, and her white husband, Chuck, who's from the United States. In the 11 years the siblings have been apart, Soraya has become a physician and adapted well to her surroundings, while back in Iran, Razi was imprisoned for being gay. As tensions rise among the three new roommates, Razi tries to make his way in a brand-new city, country and culture.

Born and raised in the U.S. and the son of Iranian immigrants, Parsi was inspired to write Through the Elevated Line in early 2016, amid America's never-ending immigration debate. "I was thinking about how we group immigrants into one of two categories: the good or bad immigrant, the hard worker or freeloader," he said. "I wanted to complicate that easy distinction by imagining two siblings who seem, at first, to exist on either side of it. By coming to know them as individuals, we come to see how…they have made difficult decisions within difficult and constrained circumstances." With all this in mind, "Through the Elevated Line is not a play about immigration per se," Parsi added. "I'm not interested in depicting the world as I'd like it to be. I'm interested in depicting the world as I see it."

This is Parsi's second play produced by Silk Road Rising, an Equity theater company founded in 2002 by Jamil Khoury, a Syrian Orthodox Christian, and Malik Gillani, a Pakistani Muslim. According to the company's website, Silk Road Rising "creates live theater in Chicago and online videos that tell stories through primarily Asian American and Middle Eastern American lenses."

Representation is crucial to Parsi, who co-authored the 2006 TimeOut Chicago article "Why is Theater in Chicago So White?" Parsi said, "[Christopher Piatt and I] noticed that the city's stages … did not reflect the city's diversity. We found that much of that had to do with the fact that young artists tended to start up theater companies with the people they already knew—their friends—and so the racial homogeneity of their social circles played out in their artistic work." Did the article make a difference? Parsi, a former theater critic, can't say for sure. However, he observed, "larger companies like Court, Steppenwolf and Victory Gardens produce more diverse writers and hire more diverse actors today than they did over a decade ago, and I see that that's true of smaller companies as well."

Many playwrights aren't very involved in their premieres, but for Parsi, it's just the opposite. He personally chose director Carin Silkaitis, whom he called "a force of the theater…she has the passion and skill to bring the vision of my page to the stage." He also assisted in casting, and attended every rehearsal and production meeting. "I've been so grateful and humbled to see these amazing actors treat this play with such care, respect and risk-taking playfulness," Parsi said.

Khoury is equally grateful and humbled, if his program note is any indication. "In the next few years …[ Parsi will] be championed as an exciting new voice in the American theatre, and his plays will be produced nationally," Khoury wrote. "On American stages, the complicated, the questioning, and the curious, are enjoying newfound currency. Novid Parsi, with his impressive capacity to create characters that are charming, prickly, compromised and resilient, understands that one can be challenged by adversity without being defined by [it]."

When asked what he hopes audiences take away, Parsi replied, "I hope they get … what I think live theater can deliver unlike any other art form: the experience of being more connected to other people. And I hope they see in the play a mirror of this moment and of our nation, and they hear a question that the play poses: Who do we want to be?"

Silk Road Rising's Through the Elevated Line runs March 7-April 15 on the lower level at 77 W. Washington St. For tickets and more information, visit .

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

W.O.M.B. marks first anniversary at Affinity 2018-03-22 - E. Nina J. and Lucy Shumpert marked the first anniversary of their monthly women of color poetry and spoken word open mic night ...

Gay News

Firebrand Theatre Presents 9 TO 5 The Musical, Music & Lyrics by Dolly Parton 2018-03-22 - CHICAGO ( March 21, 2018 ) — Following its critically acclaimed hit LIZZIE, Firebrand Theatre, the first musical theatre company committed to employing ...

Gay News

SPRING THEATER PREVIEW Gay take on Shakespeare play has Bollywood flair 2018-03-21 - In all of Shakespeare's writings, there's only one un-coded and undeniably gay man. He's Antonio, titular merchant of The Merchant of Venice. Without ...

Gay News

THEATER SPOTLIGHT Bad Girls: The Stylists 2018-03-21 - A quintet of actors play more than two dozen roles in Bad Girls: The Stylists, Astrid Saalbach's dark-to-its-roots comedy about stylists and clientele ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The Picture of Dorian Gray 2018-03-21 - Playwright Adapted by Paul Edwards, from the novel by Oscar Wilde At: City Lit Theatre, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Tickets: 773-293-3682, ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street 2018-03-21 - Written by: Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler At: No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood Ave. Tickets: $39-69 ( higher price includes dinner ). ...

Gay News

THEATER Critics' Picks 2018-03-21 - Schiller's Mary Stuart, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, through April 15. Hailed as a clash of queens—Mary of Scots vs. Elizabeth of England—it's far more ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Hang Man 2018-03-21 - Playwright: Stacy Osei-Kuffour At: Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee. Tickets: 773-283-7071;; $30-$40. Runs through: April 29 Whether it's the play itself, ...

Gay News

SPRING THEATER PREVIEW Musicals: Fresh flowers and old chestnuts 2018-03-21 - If quantity is your thing, it's a great spring for musical theater; you'll be up to your ears in singers and dancers. ...

Gay News

SPRING THEATER PREVIEW Premieres reflect global awareness 2018-03-21 - Playwrights and the theaters who showcase them are finally catching up with the times. Audiences looking to shake off the inertia of winter ...


Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.