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Ericka Ratcliff named artistic director at Congo Square Theatre

A longtime member of the African American theater company, Ratcliff becomes only the fourth artistic director in the history of the troupe, and the first female to hold the post.

Ericka Ratcliff has been named artistic director of Congo Square Theatre Company.
Ericka Ratcliff is the first female artistic director at Congo Square Theatre Company.
Courtesy Congo Square Theatre

Congo Square Theatre Company has named Ericka Ratcliff as its new artistic director, it was announced Monday.

A longtime member of the African American theater company, Ratcliff becomes only the fourth artistic director in the history of the troupe, and the first female to hold the post. Ratcliff joins executive director Charlique Rolle and board chairwoman Gertrude Wooten as the first all-female leadership team at Congo Square. “I’m very excited to be a part of this historic shift,” Ratcliff told the Sun-Times via email. “It’s rare, yes, but shouldn’t be. What is happening in Chicago is happening everywhere and the blessing is that the scope of what high art is amplified because of it. More so, I am eager to work alongside Charlique to bolster Congo Square in the changing arts community.”

Ratcliff’s Congo Square credits include “Stickfly,” “African Company Presents Richard III,” “Bulrusher” and “365 Plays/365 Days,” among others. Local/regional credits include Second City, Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Milwaukee Rep, among many others. She is an artistic associate at Lookingglass Theatre.

“From the first time I encountered Congo Square through its production of Chadwick Boseman’s “Deep Azure,” I became immediately enthralled by the company because of the beauty of the work, the authenticity of Black culture being represented on stage, and the celebration of Black artists as a family through the ensemble,” Ratcliff said in a statement.

Congo Square’s 22nd season is now underway with “The Clinic,” part of the company’s new Audio Series celebrating old school ration drama and streaming through Oct. 10 exclusively at www.congosquaretheatre.org/audio-series.

“The voices of Congo Square reflect the voices of our communities,” Ratcliff told the Sun-Times. “What experiences Black people deal with everyday; our dreams, our goals, our struggles. We represent it all and we take that responsibility very seriously.”

Tamberla Perry as Vera (left) and Ericka Ratcliff as the title character in “Bulrusher” at Congo Square Theatre in 2012.
Tamberla Perry as Vera (left) and Ericka Ratcliff as the title character in “Bulrusher” at Congo Square Theatre in 2012.
Congo Square Theatre