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GRAY, Congo Square Theatre Company and Rebuild Foundation Present WHAT TO SEND UP WHEN IT GOES DOWN

What to Send Up When It Goes Down responds to the gratuitous loss of Black lives and interrupts discourses that enable the ubiquity of racialized violence in our society.

GRAY, Congo Square Theatre Company and Rebuild Foundation Present WHAT TO SEND UP WHEN IT GOES DOWN

GRAY, Congo Square Theatre Company, and Theaster Gates's Rebuild Foundation will jointly present the Chicago premiere of What to Send Up When It Goes Down, the critically acclaimed play by award-winning playwright, Aleshea B. Harris. The performance will be presented at GRAY Chicago (2044 West Carroll Avenue) from March 31 through April 16, 2022, and Rebuild Foundation's Stony Island Arts Bank from April 21 through May 1, 2022.

Described as a play-pageant-ritual-homegoing celebration, What to Send Up When It Goes Down responds to the gratuitous loss of Black lives and interrupts discourses that enable the ubiquity of racialized violence in our society.

What to Send Up When It Goes Down is a participatory, shapeshifting experience intent on creating space for collective catharsis, cleansing and healing. The performance unfolds as a series of vignettes which employ a variety of forms including parody, song, movement, and facilitated dialogue. Breaking the fourth wall, cast members enact the script differently in each performance as members of the audience are invited not only to behold the piece as spectators, but to become part of the current that holds the story together. The play intends to create a space for as many Black-identifying audience members as possible and was created for a Black audience, but all are welcome.

The 90-minute work is co-directed by Congo Square Artistic Director Ericka Ratcliff and Ensemble member Daniel Bryant. Cast members include Ronald L. Conner and Anthony Irons (Congo Square) along with Jos N Banks, McKenzie Chinn, Victor Missoni, Alexandria Moorman, and Penelope Walker. Creative team members include Charlique C. Rolle, Sarah Grace Goldman, Estrellita Edwell, Sydney Lynne Thomas, Alexis Chaney, and Levert "Levi" Wilkins.

Congo Square Executive Director Charlique C. Rolle stated: "For over 20 years, Congo Square Theatre has committed to telling stories that unapologetically share the complexities of the Black experience. We strongly believe that Aleshea Harris's profound play, What To Send Up When It Goes Down, is the perfect piece to simultaneously address the physical and spiritual deaths of Black people as a result of racialized violence, while also providing a space to heal together in community."

"Rather than merely recapitulating the condition of living in the wake of gratuitous death, What to Send Up When It Goes Down provides opportunities for corporeal catharsis and accords deep respect for rage," said GRAY Principal, Paul Gray. "Its participatory nature makes unheard truths about inclusion and exclusion palpable. It is a shared experience, full of nuance. Aleshea Harris's portrayal of a community moving through the wake of death - both jarring and deeply moving - is a work of art in the best sense."

"As artists, harnessing our creative sensibilities as an impetus for protest and healing is one of the highest and best uses of our artistic intelligence," added Theaster Gates, artist and Founder of Rebuild Foundation. "The role that Black artists and Black cultural institutions in Chicago play in shining a light on injustice is paramount to dismantling systems that perpetuate racialized violence against Black bodies. We are humbled and honored to partner with Congo Square Theatre Company and GRAY to bring Aleshea B. Harris's poignant production to the Arts Bank and South Side community."



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