By Raymond Ward, The New 411
Congo Square Theatre Company, well known for its powerful portrayal of African American classics and gripping new works, commemorates its 20th Anniversary season with a rare production of the 1965 satirical fantasy ‘Day of Absence’ at the Richard Christiansen Theatre (housed inside Victory Gardens Biograph Theatre, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave.) The play runs until March 22.
Winner of coveted Vernon Rice and Obie Awards, ‘Day of Absence’ recounts the uproarious emergencies that occur when a Southern town is faced with the sudden and inexplicable disappearance of all its Black citizens. ‘Day of Absence’ was written and directed by Douglas Turner Ward in 1965 and helped launch the New York-based Negro Ensemble Company, whose overall mission is to present live theatre performances by and about Black people to a culturally diverse audience that is often underserved by the theatrical community. The play is traditionally performed as a ‘reverse minstrel show,’ with Black actors in whiteface.
This production is directed by Congo Square ensemble member Anthony Irons and produced by the company’s founding Artistic Director and Associate Professor of Theatre at UIC, Derrick Sanders. Casting for the production includes Congo Square ensemble members Ronald L. Conner, Ann Joseph and Kelvin Roston, Jr., joined by Jordan Arredondo, Meagan Dilworth, Bryant Hayes and Sonya Madrigal. As originally written, cast members will play various roles throughout the production.
The performance schedule is Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. All tickets are priced at $35 ($25 for seniors and students). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. To purchase tickets, and for more information, call 773-871-3000 or visit www.congosquaretheatre.org.