Congo Square Theatre revisits, What To Send Up When It Goes Down, written by Aleshea Harris at the Looking Glass Theatre, located inside the historic Water Tower Water Works Pumping Station at 821 N. Michigan Avenue at Pearson St. The show runs through October 16, 2022.
WTSUWIGD is not your typical production. Upon entering the theatre, audience members receive a Black ribbon representing the lives taken unnecessarily through excessive police brutality. There are also letters taped along the walls for all to read. These letters are from previous Non-African American attendees who stand with and support the fight against these injustices.
The mood is spiritual and ancestral. Sounds of the ocean and the rhythm of sorrow, grief, anger, and hopelessness fill the atmosphere. Simple staging with powerful symbolism. Lit candles and cascading lights.
Racism has always been a touchy topic, which may be an uncomfortable discussion for some. What To Send Up When It Goes Down appears to be a cleansing ritual where audience members participate. It allows those targeted by racist acts to purge and those who have not encountered these injustices the opportunity to listen.
This production was heavy Laden and will incite dialogue. My guest and I felt that excusing the non-African American audience members defeated the purpose of the performance. We agreed that it would have been beneficial to include everyone so those who could not relate to specific situations could listen to what was said, educate one another and help those receptive to understand certain aspects of our daily challenges. Perhaps, if invited to stay, they would have gotten a better understanding, which may have changed their thoughts and perceptions.
Overall, I found the production creative but more geared towards African-American audiences. Kudos to Aleshea for creating a safe space to enable many to speak their truths and release their frustrations. I left feeling sad and overwhelmed. I remain hopeful that the injustices will soon come to an end. All tickets are $35 and are available at lookingglasstheatre.org/event/what-to-send-up-when-it-goes-down.
Production Run Time: 90 minutes without intermission
Photo Credit: Sulyiman Stokes