Sydney Chatman and Congo Square Theatre Company were announced this week as recipients of the Joyce Foundation’s 2021 Joyce Awards. Since 2003, the Joyce Awards have supported the creation of new work by emerging and mid-career artists of color to foster more culturally vibrant, equitable, and sustainable communities in six Great Lakes cities: Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Minneapolis-St Paul.
The $75,000 grant will support Chatman’s creation and presentation of a new theatrical work as part of Congo Square’s August Wilson New Play Initiative, created in partnership with Chicago community members and exploring ways that art can foster healing and restoration. The other 2021 Joyce Awards recipients include: Kameelah Janan Rasheed with FRONT International Triennial, Daniel Minter with Lynden Sculpture Garden, and SANTIAGO X with Chicago Public Art Group.
Beginning in July 2021 and spanning 18 months, Congo Square will serve as Chatman’s artistic home, providing access to ensemble member mentorship and dramaturgical and developmental support for Untitled, a new community-based healing theatrical work exploring the journey of healing from intracommunal and state-sanctioned violence. With the help of a licensed therapist, Chatman will develop and devise a new play in collaboration with an intergenerational group of Black women and girls through a healing and liberation circle. The project will culminate in a staged reading of the play and work will then continue towards a world premiere for a larger public audience at a later date.