The company will continue to produce its well-liked, pandemic-inspired, digital programming and maintain its rich educational and community engagement initiatives. At the same time, it will also present a downtown remount of its moving What to Send Up When It Goes Down and the world premiere of How Blood Go. Congo Square is a place for artists of color to tell Black stories through melodrama, sketch comedy, healing rituals, and professional training.
Led by Congo Square’s artistic director Ericka Ratcliff and executive director Charlique C. Rolle here is the dynamic theatre’s program schedule for the 2022-23 season, in chronological order:
The Clinic: Season Two (Sept. 1, 2022)
Season two of The Clinic, Congo Square's old-school radio melodrama Audio Series, begins September 1. It follows Dr. Latisha Bradley, whose "medicinal discovery will revolutionize the world if her nemeses and heart don't get in the way." Experience The Clinic on Congo Square Theatre's website.
What to Send Up When It Goes Down (Sept. 23 - Oct. 9, 2022)
Playwright Aleshea Harris' powerful play-pageant-healing ritual What to Send Up When It Goes Down returns to the stage in residence at Lookingglass Theatre Company September 23-October 9, 2022. Designed to help Black communities heal from American racialized violence, What to Send Up When It Goes Down is a vital theatrical work. In line with Congo Square's commitment to community engagement, half of the tickets for each performance will be donated to local community groups.
Hit 'Em on the Blackside: Season Three (Oct. 28, 2022- Feb. 3, 2023)
Back by popular demand, Congo Square's online sketch comedy series Hit 'Em on the Blackside returns for its third season. Each episode, full of pitch-perfect and timely humor, will be released weekly on the Congo Square Theatre website, social media, and YouTube channel starting on October 28. Audience members can gather for a full season watch party on February 3.
World Premiere: How Blood Go (Mar. 16 - Apr. 23, 2023)
Two relatives undergo medical experiments without their consent in How Blood Go. This study explores the tense relationship between medicine and African Americans in the U.S. Quinntasia realizes that her healthy physique is not the result of her hard work, but of a futuristic experimental technology activated without her knowledge that makes her appear White to physicians and nurses. She must determine if she'll sacrifice her Blackness to achieve her dream. Meanwhile, Meanwhile, Bean and his brother, Ace, experience unethical medical treatment in the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment (1930-1970). Lisa Langford will expand How Blood Go for Congo Square's World Premiere.
Juneteenth Homecoming Weekend: Festival on the Square + Vision Benefit (Jun. 17, 2023)
Congo Square Theatre will celebrate Juneteenth Homecoming in 2023. Festival on the Square honors New Orleans' old Congo Square, where people of color celebrated their cultures through music and dance. The free and open-to-the-public event features staged readings, musical and dance acts, and a market of Black-owned companies. The annual Vision Benefit honoring Congo Square Theatre's 24 years will include performances, an awards presentation, and a celebration.
Community Engagement and Education Initiatives
Working and aspiring artists will benefit from Congo Square's ensemble-led CITI classes to develop their performing and industry skills. Tracey N. Bonner will teach Self-Tape for the Working Actor, Javon Johnson will teach My Big Break: Breaking into the Industry, Javon Johnson will teach How to Write for TV/Film, Ann Joseph Douglas will teach Grant Writing for Individual Artists, and Allen Gilmore will teach Classical Interpretation. A gift from the Robert and Toni Bader Charitable Foundation makes each workshop $30 for the general public and free for high school, college, and graduate students.
The Samuel G. Roberson Next Up Fellowship helps college and high school students enhance their playwriting and sense of self. Each fellow will receive a year of writing guidance from founding ensemble member and writer Aaron Todd Douglas and have their 10-minute piece workshopped by Congo Square. 2022–23 Fellows are Helaina Coggs and Bair Warburton-Brown.
Since 2005, the August Wilson New Play Initiative (AWNPI) has developed world premieres, including Stick Fly by Lydia Diamond and Deep Azure by Chadwick Boseman. Two AWNPI playwrights-in-residence will continue writing in 2022–23. It's been in development since 2021–22 and will end in January 2023. Sydney Chatman's 18-week healing path empowers Black women and girls in Chicago who have experienced state-sanctioned or interpersonal trauma. Kristiana Rae Colón will direct Homan & Fillmore, an Afro-futuristic reconstruction of the 2016 encampment at Chicago's Homan Square.
About Congo Square Theatre Company
Congo Square Theatre Company is one of the only two African American Actors' Equity theater companies in Chicago. Founded in 1999, Congo Square aimed to provide a platform for Black artists to present works that exemplified the majesty, diversity, and intersectionality of stories from the African Diaspora. Playwrights have included Chadwick Boseman (Marvel Studio's Black Panther), Lydia Diamond (Stick Fly), and CORE (Curriculum Objectives Residency Enrichment).