WELCOME TO MATTESON!, a dark comedy by Chicago native, Inda Craig-Galvan, examines issues of housing injustice, NIMBYism, and classism. The play receives its Chicago Premiere at Northwestern University’s Abbot Hall Congo Square Theatre.
WELCOME TO MATTESON! follows two Black couples over the course of a dinner party; one couple has lived in the Chicago suburb of Matteson for years, and the other has just moved in after being forcibly relocated from the Cabrini-Green housing projects. Tensions rise as each couple is forced to confront their own biases.
The notorious Cabrini-Green public housing projects on Chicago’s Near Northside were long seen by outsiders as a dangerous and violent no-go zone. To residents of the projects, however, Cabrini-Green represented an affordable housing option close to downtown, and a tight-knit, multigenerational community that functioned through systems of mutual aid. When the city decided to tear down nearly all of the Cabrini-Green buildings, residents were forced out of not only their long-term homes but also away from their systems of support. Displaced residents landed in numerous communities in the city and its suburbs including the Southwest suburb of Matteson, but they did not always receive a warm welcome. Neighbors in the receiving communities balked at the arrival of low-income residents, fearing an influx of criminal activity and a decrease in property values.
Congo Square’s production of WELCOME TO MATTESON! is part of the National New Play Network’s Rolling World Premiere program in which a new play is premiered by multiple companies over an 18-month period allowing the playwright to collaborate and make adjustments while working with unique perspectives from each company. WELCOME TO MATTESON! will receive its World Premiere at New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch, New Jersey (SuzAnne Barabas, Artistic Director; Gabor Barabas, Executive Producer) on September 28, 2023.
“We are thrilled to be working with the National New Play Network to ensure that one of WELCOME TO MATTESON!’s rolling world premieres happens in Chicago.” Said Ratcliff “I am honored to work alongside such a talented cast and creative team to bring this vital work to life and share it with the greater community. Between the production, our Celebration of Healing initiative, and our community ticket program, Congo Square’s commitment to radical community, radical generosity, and radical expansion boldly proceeds in our 25th season.”
As an extension of WELCOME TO MATTESON! Congo Square will continue its Celebration of Healing initiative to provide audiences with a curated space geared toward individual and community healing. Celebration of Healing events pair artists with community leaders for conversations about relevant issues highlighted in the performance, and the intersection of art and social justice.
Performances of WELCOME TO MATTESON! run from September 10 to October 1, 2023. Tickets can be purchased at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/1173899.