Joyce Award Winners

Sydney Chatman with Congo Square Theatre

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Sydney Chatman and Congo Square Theatre are one of the four winners of the 2021 Joyce Awards, which honor collaborations between artists of color and arts and community organizations throughout the Great Lakes region.

“My vision for the creation of this work is to uplift and amplify survivors in the creative healing and liberation process focused on forging a new narrative instigated by the atrocities of state-sanctioned violence. I believe in theater’s unique ability to shine light on the injustices of our world, as well as its capacity to bring joy— this process seeks to center the voices of the Black women and girls whose stories have too long gone unheard.” -Sydney Chatman

Chicago-based Congo Square Theatre will partner with playwright Sydney Chatman to develop a new community-based healing theatrical work. The work explores the journey of healing from intracommunal and state-sanctioned violence, created in collaboration with an intergenerational group of Black women and girls through a healing and liberation circle. The circle will act as a safe community and space to investigate themes of the new play through monthly discussions, readings, and journaling. The generative process is designed to aid in rewriting a new narrative and reclaiming joy and power.

Sydney Chatman uses theater as her medium to conjure hope, justice, freedom, and joy. Led by ancestral guidance and intergenerational wisdoms; she directs, educates, produces, and writes work that seeks to heal her community. Chatman is an African-American Arts Alliance Award and 3Arts Make a Wave winner. Her theater credits include New York fellowships with Stage Directors and Choreographers Workshop Foundation (SDC), the Lincoln Center's Director’s Lab, and the Goodman Theatre Maggio Directing Fellowship. Chicago theater credits include the Goodman Theatre, TimeLine Theatre Company, Court Theatre, Congo Square Theatre Company, and eta Creative Arts; Louisville: StageOne Family Theatre; Indiana: Indiana University Northwest. Chatman has created theatrical performances and collaborations with the MCA of Chicago, Adler Planetarium, Hyde Park Jazz Festival/Back Alley Jazz, The Reva and David Logan Center, Court Theatre, Prop Theater, Victory Gardens Theater, and WakandaCon. In 2008 she founded The Tofu Chitlin’ Circuit and created innovative programming called the A La Carte and the Tuxedo Junction. She is a featured artist in Black Theater is Black Life: An Oral History of Black Theater in Chicago 1997-2010. Her plays, Black Girls (Can) Fly!, And Words Were Her Weapon: A Tribute to Ida B. Wells-Barnett, The Duty of the Youth, and Violence Just Don’t Understand are a testament to her admiration and respect for young people. She has been a theater teacher for 18 years, where she shares space with young people by providing a foundation of agency and love.

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