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World Premiere of HOW BLOOD GO to Open at Steppenwolf's 1700 Theater in March

World Premiere of HOW BLOOD GO to Open at Steppenwolf's 1700 Theater in March

How Blood Go weaves the present and past together to explore the strained relationship between the healthcare system and African Americans in this country.

Congo Square Theatre Company will present the World Premiere of How Blood Go by Cleveland-based playwright Lisa Langford, a provocative - and wholly topical - story of two family members who are subject to medical experiments without their consent, 50 years apart. Infused with Afrofuturism, How Blood Go debuts at Steppenwolf's 1700 Theater (1700 N. Halsted Street) as part of its LookOut series March 11 - April 23, 2023 (Previews: March 11-15 at 7pm; Press opening: Thursday, March 16, at 7pm; No performance on April 16).

How Blood Go weaves the present and past together to explore the strained relationship between the healthcare system and African Americans in this country. Just when Quinntasia is ready to take her wellness program, Quinntessentials, to market, she learns that her healthy body is not the product of her hard work, but of a futuristic experimental device-activated without her consent-that makes her appear White to doctors and nurses. She must decide if she's willing to give up her Blackness to make her dream come true. Meanwhile, Bean and his brother, Ace, experience unethical medical treatment in the American South (the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment 1930-1970).

Under the direction of Tiffany Fulson, the How Blood Go cast features Congo Square Ensemble Member Ronald L. Conner (Ace) and The Chi star Yolonda Ross (Didi), along with Jyreika Guest (Quinntasia), Kayla Kennedy (White Quinn/Frank), Caron Buinis (White Didi/Anne/Norm), Marcus Moore (Tron/John Brown), Kristin Ellis (Big Gal/Negress), and David Dowd (Bean/Negro).

The design team and crew is comprised of Courtney O'Neill (Scenic Designer), Mike Tutaj (Projections Designer), Kotryna Hilko (Costumes Designer), Levi Wilkins (Lighting Designer), Lonnae Hickman (Properties Designer), Willow James (Sound Designer), Sarah Grace Goldman (Dramaturg/Assistant Director), Breon Arzell (Movement Director), and Victor Hugo Jaimes (Production Manager), Lauren Lassus (Production Stage Manager), Lili Bjorklund (Assistant Stage Manager), Evan Sposato (Technical Director) and Conchita Avitia (Master Electrician).

"While there are universal themes, this is a very personal story: my grandfather's uncle was a patient in the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. Though that was decades ago, Black lives are still placed at risk every day because of the medical establishment's casual disregard for our health and our worth. I hope that audiences will take away that the past is right next to us, and we ignore its lessons at our own peril," shared Langford.

Infused with Afrofuturism (a movement featuring futuristic or science fiction themes which incorporate elements of Black history and culture), Langford's fantastical work won Congo Square's 2019 August Wilson New Play Initiative, designed to uplift, support, and give voice to the next generation of African American Playwrights through produced staged readings and developmental workshops. How Blood Go was also part of the Global Black Voices at the Roundhouse Theatre in London in August 2019.

"This play is at the pulse of the national conversation about racial inequities in our healthcare systems and practices. We hope audiences are down to explore these issues with us through this potent and dynamic production," added Ericka Ratcliff, Congo Square Theatre Artistic Director.

Tickets & Performance Schedule

Tickets, priced at $25 for preview performances and $35 for all other performances ($20 for seniors and students), are now on sale by calling 312-335-1650 or visiting www.steppenwolf.org/howbloodgo. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.

How Blood Go will be performed March 11 - April 23 (with no performance on April 16); the performance schedule is as follows: Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturday evenings at 7pm, and Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2pm. In addition, there will be 7pm performances on Saturday, March 11; Tuesday, March 14; and Wednesday, March 15; Thursday March 16 at 7pm, the official press opening.

Congo Square continues its radical generosity model partnering with community organizations throughout the city to donate up to half of all tickets for every performance. In this way, Congo Square continues to expand access for audiences traditionally excluded from the theater. Interested organizations should reach out to Congo Square at communitypartner@congosquaretheatre.org

Ronald L. Conner

(Ace) is a Congo Square Ensemble Member, currently seen in Congo Square's digital sketch comedy series Hit 'Em on the Blackside, now in its third season. Other Congo Square credits include Day of Absence, Jitney, King Hedley II, Small Oak Tree Runs Red, The Colored Museum, The Talented Tenth (2008 BTAA Award, Best Actor in an Ensemble), African Company Presents King Richard III, and Deep Azure. Other Chicago credits include Titanic: Scene from the British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry 1912, King Hedley II (Jeff Award - Best Production), Seven Guitars, The Piano Lesson (2009 BTAA Award Best Lead Actor), and The First Breeze of Summer (Court Theatre); A View from the Bridge, Father Comes Home from the Wars, and SWEAT (Goodman Theatre); Pipeline (Victory Gardens Theater); SS! Twelfth Night (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); and Paradise Blue (TimeLine Theatre). Regional theater credits include The St. Louis Black Repertory Company, Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, Portland Stage Company, Olney Theatre, and Geva Theatre Center. On television, Conner plays the character Bluto on Seasons 1 and 2 of Southside (HBO MAX). Other TV and film credits: Chasing the Blues (film), The Chi (Showtime), Empire (Fox), Sirens (USA), Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med (NBC). He is represented by Paonessa Talent.

Yolonda Ross

(Didi) makes her Congo Square and Steppenwolf Theatre debut. She is an ensemble member of LAByrinth Theatre Company, NYC; other selected regional theater credits: Four American Women (Great Barrington Public Theatre) & all-female cast reading of Glengarry Glen Ross (Franco Productions, NYC) both written & directed by David Mamet, Unconditional (LAByrinth / Joseph Papp Public Theater), 365 Plays by Suzan-Lori Parks (Joseph Papp Public Theater), and Marian Words (LAByrinth) written and directed by Ross. TV credits: The Chi (Showtime/Disney), "American Gigolo" (Showtime/Paramount), "Terror Lake Drive" (ALL BLK/AMC), American Masters: How it Feels To Be Free (PBS), The Get Down (Netflix), How To Get Away With Murder (ABC/Disney), Whitney (Lifetime), Phil Spector (HBO), and Treme (HBO). Film: Thug (Sculptor Media), Bull (Sony Pictures), Go For Sisters* (Variance Films), Whatever Works (Sony Pictures), Antwone Fisher (Fox Searchlight), Stranger Inside** (HBO Films). Management: WEG Talent, NYC *Film Independent Spirit Award Nomination - Best Supporting Actress, **Independent Spirit Award Nomination - Breakthrough Actor and **IFP Breakthrough Actor Award.

Lisa Langford (Playwright)

Lisa Langford is a Cleveland-based playwright and actor. She received her B.A. in History from Harvard University and her M.F.A. in playwriting from Cleveland State University. Her play Rastus and Hattie was a Joyce Award winner (w/Cleveland Public Theatre), a Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center National Playwrights Conference finalist, and a The Kilroy's List honorable mention. The play was published by New Stage Press. Her other works include The Art of Longing, a Leslie Scalapino Award finalist for Innovative Women Playwrights; and several short plays, including The Bomb, published in the anthology Black Lives/Black Words.

Tiffany Fulson (Director)

Tiffany Fulson is an actor, director, and community arts curator from the South Side of Chicago. In 2018, Fulson led the effort to launch TimeLine Theatre's first summer arts program, TimeLine South, and in 2021, she became TimeLine's first Artistic Producer of Innovative Partnerships. She is also currently the Director of The August Wilson Monologue Competition Outreach Program Chicago in collaboration with Goodman Theatre. Directing credits include The Angry Brigade (University of Illinois at Chicago); Twisted Melodies, The Christians, and Fun Home (Assistant Director, Baltimore Center Stage); Sense and Sensibility (Assistant Director, Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Twisted Melodies (Associate Director, Baltimore Center Stage, Apollo - New York, Mosaic - Washington, D.C.). Fulson holds a BFA degree in Theatre Performance from University of Illinois at Chicago and also studied abroad at Arcadia University for Global Studies in London.

About Congo Square Theatre Company

Congo Square Theatre Company is an ensemble dedicated to producing transformative work rooted in the African Diaspora. We are a haven for artists of color to challenge and redefine the theatrical canon by amplifying and creating stories that reflect the reach and complexities of Black Culture. Congo Square is one of only two African American Actors' Equity theater companies in Chicago. Founded in 1999, Congo Square aimed to provide a platform for Black artists to present works 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 theaters 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 (Marvel Studio's 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 theater company the distinction of being the first African American theater company to receive such an honor.

Congo Square's Community Engagement and Education programs bring the impact of theater to young audiences. Its outreach programs, CORE (Curriculum Objectives Residency Enrichment), and CAST (Congo After School Theater), 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, schools, and community organizations located on the South and West sides of Chicago.

For more information on Congo Square and its 2022-23 Season, visit www.congosquaretheatre.org.



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