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Congo Square Theatre Announces Performers For Juneteenth Celebrations

Popular free and family-friendly 'Festival on the Square' and celebratory evening 'Vision Benefit' feature live theatre, music, vendors, and more.

Congo Square Theatre Announces Performers For Juneteenth Celebrations

Chicago's Congo Square Theatre Company, one of the nation's premier African American theatres, celebrates the Juneteenth holiday with two festive "Homecoming"-themed programs, Sunday, June 19 at the Zhou B Art Center, 1029 W. 35th Street in the Bridgeport neighborhood.

The celebration begins with the return of the company's popular Festival on the Square, taking place from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. This lively, family-friendly, and FREE program is inspired by the original Congo Square located in New Orleans, and aims to celebrate arts, healing, and Black joy.

Themed around "Homecoming," this year's Festival will showcase a vibrant collection of live performances, theatrical readings, and Black owned vendors. Ayodele Drum & Dance kicks off the festival with a live performance followed by a dance class for all ages and skill levels. Then Congo Square Theatre Ensemble Member Aaron Todd Douglas will read August Wilson's How I Learned What I Learned followed by a performance from Chicago blues star Melody Angel. Members of the Congo Square Theatre Ensemble will perform staged readings of plays by the 2022 Samuel G. Roberson Next Up Fellowship winners directed by Malkia Stampley. Fellowship winners will be announced during the festival.

Festival on the Square attendees will also have the opportunity to purchase products from Black owned businesses on site including Black Plant Lovers, Dr. Herbal's Organic & Vegan Hair Care, and Joy's Treasure Jewelry. For more information on this afternoon program, visit congosquaretheatre.org/fos

Then starting at 6:00 p.m., Congo Square hosts the 2022 Vision Benefit, to help support Congo Square's important mission, and celebrate the company's work, its return to live theater, and its future. The 2022 Vision Benefit will honor three individuals for their contributions to the company and the Chicago theatre community, an annual Congo Square tradition: Luther Goins will receive its Lifetime Achievement Award; Jacqueline Williams will receive its Artistic Excellence Award; and Rueben Echoles will receive its Emerging Artist Award.

Entertainment for the Vision Benefit includes a Hit 'em on the Blackside Watch Party with a cast and crew talkback, dance performances from Hawkins House of Horton and Ayodele Drum & Dance, and musical performances by Melody Angel and Alexis Roston & Friends. Jeffery Beckham, Jr. will do a live painting which will be auctioned off during the celebration. A dance party hosted by DJ Retro concludes the evening. Vision Benefit tickets are $250. Please note that all in-person attendees must present proof of vaccination and a photo ID to enter the facility. For more information, to purchase a Vision Benefit ticket or to make a donation, please visit congosquaretheatre.org/visionbenefit.

"We are especially excited for the Festival on the Square and the Vision Benefit to commemorate Juneteenth this year." said Congo Square's Artistic Director Ericka Ratcliff, "It has been a long-time goal for the company to celebrate this meaningful holiday through our artistry."

"We can't wait to welcome the community 'home' again to Congo Square, for the first live Festival on the Square and Vision Benefit since the beginning of the pandemic. Thanks to our brilliant Ensemble members as well as our guest performers, vendors, and honorees, this is sure to be a joyous community celebration to remember!" added Executive Director Charlique C. Rolle.



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