who we are

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Congo Square was co-founded in 1999 by Derrick Sanders and Reginald Nelson, who were driven to create a theatre ensemble that represented artistic excellence and would be important to the American theater landscape. Seventeen years later the ensemble has grown to seventeen members, and we are proud to have a reputation as one of the premier African-American theatres in the country. Among the highlights over the past seventeen years, we count the honor of producing the work of our mentor and theatrical father, August Wilson as one of them. Our production of Seven Guitars garnered top honors (best ensemble, best direction, and best production) at the 2005 Joseph Jefferson Awards. Congo Square was the first African American theatre company to receive such an honor.

In 2005, Congo Square established The New Playwright Initiative, which was renamed The August Wilson New Play Initiative (AWNPI) after his death.  This program is designed to provide opportunities for emerging African American playwrights.

The AWNPI initiative is presented through a multi-faceted process of commissioning new artists, producing staged readings, and developmental workshops. This tiered process produces new works by new playwrights, adding powerful new voices to the cannon of American theatre.

Since its inception, The August Wilson New Play Initiative has produced new works like Stick Fly by Lydia Diamond, which went to Broadway and is currently being developed for HBO, Deep Azure by Chadwick Boseman, and the most recent entries: Artistic Associate Kelvin Roston’s Twisted Melodies and Lekethia Dalcoe’s A Small Oak Tree Runs Red, as directed by Harry J. Lennix.  By continuing this initiative, Congo Square will continue its legacy as innovators and leaders in the development of premiere work from by the next generation of great American playwrights.

 

Congo SQUARE - NEW ORLEANS

"Congo Square-New Orleans" - T. Ellis

"Congo Square-New Orleans" - T. Ellis

Congo Square in New Orleans was originally sacred ground to the Houma Indians. It is most commonly known as the public market where enslaved Africans and free people of color would gather to sing, drum, dance, and trade on Sunday afternoons. Dating back to 1819, African cultural expressions displayed at Congo Square developed into African American traditions, still celebrated today.