(Chicago News Cooperative) — Compared to the rest of Chicago’s theater community, where companies can rise, fall and change directions seemingly from show to show, African-American theaters have been a bastion of stability–or, according to some critics, stasis. The Black Ensemble Theater could be counted on to do jukebox musicals at its space in the Jane Addams Hull House; eta Creative Arts reliably produced new works whose educational content often overwhelmed their artistic power. Congo Square Theatre and MPAACT presented first-rate plays by contemporary black playwrights but sometimes went dark because of managerial or financial difficulties. Now signs of change are sweeping through the black theater community. Last month, eta co-founder Abena Joan Brown retired after 40 years; next month, Congo Square will announce a new artistic director; in the fall the Black Ensemble Theater will open a cultural center in Uptown with two theaters and broader programing. The developments are largely in response to the rise of a new generation of African-American theatergoers.