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Congo Square Theatre Company announces 2020-2021 Season including digital
--From a Congo Square press release
2020-08-25

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CHICAGO ( August 25, 2020 )—Congo Square Theatre Company ( Congo Square ), one of the nation's premier African American theatres, is proud to announce its full 21st Season of programming for 2020-2021.

Kicking off the season from October-December 2020 is Hit 'Em on the Blackside, a new online series that features Congo Square's award-winning African American ensemble in bi-weekly, sketch comedy webisodes posted for free viewing on the company's social media platforms. The series is directed by Anthony Irons, who helmed the company's successful production of Douglas Turner Ward's satirical fantasy Day of Absence, which closed performances early due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hit 'Em on the Blackside webisodes will be compiled into a full show on Congo Square's website. Part one of the show airs December, available for free public viewing. Then from March-June 2021 the new bi-weekly webisodes will resume, with a part two of the show posted to the company's website in June.

Also next year, Congo Square presents a reimagined digital version of its Festival on the Square from February 4-6, 2021, including a 10-minute play festival with live readings and "Conversations at the Square" highlighting Black artists and industry professionals, facilitated by Congo Square Ensemble Members. Festival on the Square honors the original Congo Square marketplace in New Orleans, where people of color communed through music and dance and celebrated the cultures of their homelands.

Finally, Congo Square Theatre Company will present a live production in late spring or summer 2021, based on updated health guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic. The new work seeks to speak to the current moment and facilitate healing for the Black community. Production details and dates will be announced next year.

For more information on Congo Square's 2020-21 Season, visit www.congosquaretheatre.org .

"Congo Square Theatre has spent the past twenty years being producing raw, real, and relevant work reflecting and elevating the voices of Black and African Diasporic artists. Even as the unknowns of producing stand before us, we charge forward innovating and iterating as we launch this new season! We are even more committed to creating transformative Black theater for all versions of the 'stage' in these times," said Congo Square's Managing Director Charlique C. Rolle.

Congo Square Theatre Company's 2020-2021 Season

Hit 'Em on the Blackside

October-December 2020 and March-June 2021

Directed by Congo Square Ensemble Member Anthony Irons, featuring artists Ron Conner, Alexis J. Roston, Tiffany Addison and Kelvin Roston Jr.

Tickets: Free online

Release dates for 2020 webisodes: Oct. 9, Oct. 23, Nov. 6, Nov. 20, Dec. 4 and Dec. 18

Release dates for 2021 webisodes: March 20, April 3, April 17, May 1, May 15, May 29

In 2014, Congo Square's late Artistic Director Samuel G. Roberson asked fellow ensemble members, "How do we challenge ourselves artistically, offer our audience a new brand of content, all while upholding our mission and core values?" Ensemble Member Anthony Irons responded with Tales from the Blackside, a live sketch comedy show that was the first show in the company's history created by a collective group of its ensemble members. With high energy and bold satire, no subject was off limits as the cast addressed topics such as the Black Lives Matter protest in Ferguson, Black Elitism, and the complexities of Common Core Math.

This fall, Congo Square pivots to a new digital platform with a reboot of this concept, directed by Anthony Irons and entitled Hit 'Em on the Blackside. The new online series features Congo Square's award-winning African American ensemble in bi-weekly, sketch comedy webisodes posted for free viewing on the company's social media platforms. Hit 'Em on the Blackside webisodes will be compiled into a full show on Congo Square's with part one airing on the website in December, available for free public viewing. Then from March-June 2021 the new bi-weekly webisodes will resume, with part two of the show posted to the company's website in June.

�Festival on the Square

February 4-6, 2021

Tickets: Free online

Conceived in 2010, the �Festival on the Square was a collaborative series of multimedia experiences featuring film, music and dance, conceived by former Artistic Director Daniel Bryant and presented annually by Congo Square Theatre Company. Performances, screenings and round table discussions during the festival honored the original Congo Square and the legacy of the weekend gatherings among people of color in New Orleans.

This year, Congo Square presents its Festival on the Square in a digital format with a guiding theme of Building Community. Programs will include a 10-minute play festival with live readings and "Conversations at the Square" highlighting Black artists and industry professionals, facilitated by Congo Square Ensemble Members.

Spring/Summer 2021 Production, dates to be announced

Congo Square Theatre Company will present a live production in late spring or summer 2021, based on updated health guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic. The new work seeks to speak to the current moment and facilitate healing for the Black community. Production details and dates will be announced next year.

About Congo Square Theatre Company

Congo Square Theatre Company ( Congo Square ) is an ensemble dedicated to artistic excellence. By producing definitive and transformative theatre spawned from the African Diaspora, as well as other world cultures, Congo Square seeks to establish itself as an institution of multicultural theatre. Congo Square is one of only two African American Actors' Equity theatre companies in Chicago. Founded in 1999, Congo Square aimed to provide a platform for black artists to perform and present classic and new work that exemplified the majesty, diversity and intersectionality of stories from the African Diaspora.

Congo Square has risen to become one of the most well-respected African American theatres in the nation. Previously mentored by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson, Congo Square would go on to cultivate talents such as playwright Chadwick Boseman ( Black Panther ), who penned the 2006 Jeff nominated play Deep Azure, and playwright Lydia Diamond, who penned the massively successful Stick Fly, a critically acclaimed play that explores race, class, and familial friction. Stick Fly ultimately ran on Broadway and is currently being developed into a full-length series for HBO with Alicia Keys serving as a producer. Congo Square also produced the widely praised Seven Guitars, which would eventually go on to win top honors for best ensemble, best direction, and best production at the 2005 Joseph Jefferson Awards. This would earn the theatre company the distinction of being the first African American theatre company to receive such an honor.

Congo Square's Educational Programs bring the impact of theater to young audiences. Its two outreach programs, CORE ( Curriculum Objectives Residency Enrichment ), and CAST ( Congo After School Theatre ), present and teach theater arts by providing classroom and after-school residencies that provide Teaching Artists to build upon already established Chicago Public Schools literature and art curriculums. CORE and CAST impact students and schools located in the Bronzeville, Auburn, Gresham, Douglas, and Woodlawn neighborhoods.

For more information about Congo Square Theatre Company, please call 773-296-1108 or visit www.congosquaretheatre.org .


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