Chicago's Congo Square Will Premiere Javon Johnson's Sanctified in 2008 | Playbill

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News Chicago's Congo Square Will Premiere Javon Johnson's Sanctified in 2008 Chicago's Congo Square Theatre Company, the Equity troupe that stages "theatre spawned from the African Diaspora," will offer two world premieres in its four-show 2007-08 season.

Founding artistic director Derrick Sanders announced that a world-premiere adaptation by Brian Tucker of Langston Hughes' Black Nativity will be performed at the Goodman Theatre; and founding ensemble member Javon Johnson's Sanctified will also premiere, in CSTC's home at Green Street Theatre.

Also expect the Midwest premiere of Kwame Kwei-Armah's Elmina's Kitchen; and the Chicago premiere of Richard Welsey's The Talented Tenth, about alumni of Howard University — the alma mater of several Congo Square members.

Congo Square will be producing in its new home at the Green Street Theatre located at The Chicago Center for the Performing Arts, 777 N. Green Street (at Chicago Ave., just west of Halsted St.) Black Nativity will play the Owen Stage at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. The 2007-2008 season marks the first four-play season in the company's eight-year history.

The Congo Square season at a glance:

  • Elmina's Kitchen by Kwame Kwei-Armah, directed by Derrick Sanders, featuring Ron Conner, Anthony Irons and Ann Joseph. Sept. 13-Oct. 14. "This first major play by a young, British, black writer is a captivating and authentic contribution to World Theater as it examines the inheritance of British black youth of the 21st Century. Elmina's Kitchen is a fierce portrait of a difficult father-son relationship, struggling to stay within the law amidst a sea of thievery, protection rackets and violence on Hackney's Murder Mile." The play premiered at the Royal National Theatre in spring 2003, and has been produced as a television play by the BBC.
  • Black Nativity by Langston Hughes, adapted by Brian Tucker, featuring Alexis Rogers, Nov. 29-Dec. 30. "Congo Square's production of Black Nativity has become a holiday tradition in Chicago. This season, Black Nativity returns to the Goodman Theatre with a fresh, world-premiere adaptation about the birth of Christ. Black Nativity is a testament to the power of gospel music, telling the story of the Nativity through a combination of African American scripture, poetry, dance and song."
  • The Talented Tenth by Richard Wesley, directed by Aaron Todd Douglas, featuring Daniel Bryant, Javon Johnson, Bakesta King, Ericka Ratcliff, Tracey Bonner and Allen Gilmore. Feb. 7-March 9, 2008. "The Talented Tenth is a contemporary comedy-drama about Howard University alumni who have remained friends throughout the years. The lives of the three married couples in the play may just be a very far cry from W.E.B. DuBois' meaning of the 'talented tenth.' These characters who were once idealistic and well-meaning have drifted to become urban professionals whose own self-interest is at the center of their lives."
  • Sanctified by Javon Johnson, directed by Derrick Sanders, featuring Aimee Bryant, Taron Patton, Alexis Rogers. April 24-May 25, 2008. "A small black church in South Carolina standing on its last leg and its tradition is faced with the challenge of preparing a successful revival in hopes of rebuilding their reputation and congregation. A task that becomes overwhelming when their newly required and rather young interim Pastor decides to update the choir with new ideas and instruments. His ideas prove to be a little too fast paced for the elders, even more so when the Pastor seeks assistance from his diva of all divas Sister, and gospel extraordinaire, Sister Pauletta Denise Jones. Things seem to go down hill but all may not be lost. That is if Mister and Sir, who must assist in the success of this revival in order to overcome a challenging mission of their own, are able to fulfill their calling." For more information about Congo Square Theatre Company, visit


    Congo Square Theatre Company "is an ensemble dedicated to artistic excellence. By producing definitive and transformative theatre spawned from the African Diaspora, as well as world culture, Congo Square Theatre Company seeks to establish itself as an institution of multicultural theatre."

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