Congo Square was co-founded in 1999 by Derrick Sanders and Reginald Nelson. Both Sanders and Nelson were driven to create a theatre ensemble that strives for artistic excellence and to become part of American theater’s national landscape. Since then, the ensemble has grown to sixteen members and gained a reputation as one of the premier African American theatres in the country. Over the past eleven years, Congo Square has gone on to produce more than 30 plays including August Wilson’s Seven Guitars, which garnered top honors (best ensemble, best direction, and best production) at the 2007 Joseph Jefferson Awards.
Congo Square is the first and, thus far, only African American theatre company to receive such accolades.
In 2005, Congo Square established The New Playwright Initiative, which was renamed The August Wilson New Play Initiative after his death. This program is designed to provide opportunities for emerging African American playwrights. Since its inception, The August Wilson New Play Initiative has produced new works like Stick Fly by
Lydia Diamond, which has gone on to receive Broadway and national productions, Deep Azure by Chadwick Boseman (42), currently being adapted to film, St. James Infirmary by Brian Tucker, and most recently, Congo Square ensemble member Javon Johnson’s Sanctified.
In January 2013, Congo Square Theatre Company presented Mosley on The Square, a series of free community outreach events celebrating the legacy of Walter Mosley. Events were January 17-19th at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago, and included a public interview and book signing with the author of the nearly 50 books, plays and essays, Mr. Walter Mosley. Events continued through the weekend at the Chicago Cultural Center with a public screening of A Devil in A Blue Dress and staged readings of Mr. Mosley’s newest plays.
At the close, nearly 600 Mosley fans joined Congo Square in celebration of his work and to hear from the Walter Mosley himself. We all were given “breaking news” during the interview as Mosley announced the return of Easy Rawlins, and a new book coming this spring.
For more on Congo Square Theatre – visit CongoSquareTheatre.org or call 773-296-1108