The Ensemble Theatre Announces Its 2019-2020 Season
HOUSTON — The Ensemble Theatre Artistic Director, Eileen J. Morris, announces the theatre’s 2019-2020 season including a commissioned world premiere and five regional premieres packed with drama, comedy and musical performances; and a series of alternative programming, youth initiatives, and fundraising events.
“We are excited to bring forth another season of works that deepen our vibe with rhythm of the world by broadening our perspective of diverse human experiences,” says Morris. “This season explores survival, forgiveness, competitiveness, and the will to move forward when circumstance tells us otherwise.”
The season kicks off with the regional premiere School Girls: Or, the African Mean Girls Play by Jocelyn Bioh about a group of girls vying for social position at school, and the antics they ploy to become queen bee; next is the commissioned world premiere musical More Than Christmas by Celeste Bedford Walker that tells the inspirational story of a family where everyone is at their boiling point with one another when an unexpected crisis brings resolve and a spirit of mercy told through traditional Christmas carols and original music; the regional premiere of The Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey is a story that gives more context to Victor Hugo Green’s historical “The Negro Motorist Green Book” as a necessity for survival in the South rather than a leisure travel guide, as a Jewish Holocaust survivor meets a family ignited by the civil rights movement; next, is the regional premiere Autumn by Richard Wesley, a political drama that explores the conflicts that arise when aspirations collide across generational, racial, and gender divides; Beatbox: A Raparetta is a regional premiere by Dan Wolf and Tommy Shepherd that fuses rhythm, rhyme, and rap to deliver a dynamic tale of young hip hop performers who face poverty, jealousy, and loss in the pursuit of their dreams; and the season finale musical and regional premiere Respect: A Musical Journey of Women by Dr. Dorothy Marcic spotlights the anthem burned into the hearts of women by Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul by combining excerpts of 60 songs with women’s stories about finding dreams, lost love, relationship issues, entering the workforce, gaining independence, and more.
General Auditions for the 2019-2020 Season will be held June 23, 2019 at The Ensemble Theatre 3535 Main Street, Houston, Texas 77002. Additional information and to schedule an audition appointment contact Michelle Elaine Ogletree, Artistic Assistant: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ensemble Theatre will honor celebrity guests, a rising star, and corporate and community supporters for their commitment to advancing the arts, during its Annual Black-Tie Gala, Saturday, August 17, 2019, at the Hilton Americas- Houston. The gala is the largest fundraising event dedicated to the annual support of the theatre. This year’s Honorary Chair is Winell Herron, H-E-B’s VP of public, diversity and environmental affairs, and dinner chairs Gaynell Drexler and Heidi Smith. Honorees include actors Richard Lawson, Morocco Omari, and more.
The theatre’s 17th Annual Golf Tournament is Monday, October 14, 2019 at the Northgate Country Club golf course. The tournament raises funds to support the Theatre’s youth and educational initiatives including its touring education/ children’s theatre, artist in residency, and young performers training program.
Founder’s Circle, the theatre’s distinguished leadership group of individual and corporate donors, will host a series of intimate receptions with the playwrights and directors, a Behind the Scenes tour, and an Artistic Director’s Dinner. The Founder’s Circle raises money to support the Theatre’s exhibitions, youth programs and reserve fund to ensure The Ensemble’s future.
The Ensemble Theatre’s Touring Education program is a repertoire of educationally themed productions packaged into a mini season of children’s theatre with dates available to families, the general public, and private bookings available for schools, community groups, and other organizations.
The Young Performers Program (YPP) is a performing arts education series for youth age (6-17) that includes week-long sessions during spring and winter breaks, and two month-long sessions during the summer. The program offers an introductory overview of the arts through theatre, dance and music, motivating youth to use theatre as a means to explore and inspire.
Act One, the theatre’s community of young professionals, will host a series of mixers, social events, and collaborations with other Houston Area young professionals groups including two annual events: a February Black History Month Mixer, and an April, National Poetry Month showcase entitled: Drama-try[tree]: A Night of Dramatic Poetry.
Celebrating the Creative Journey is the theatre’s alternative program series of special projects and presentations planned outside its main stage season. The upcoming stage readings, film screenings, exploratory works, and collaborative ventures are designed to showcase developing productions, cultivate new artists, and expose audiences to the variety of artistic expression Houston has to offer.
THE ENSEMBLE THEATRE’S 2019-2020 SEASON DETAILS:
School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play
PG Comedy/Regional Premiere
By Jocelyn Bioh
Directed by Eileen J. Morris
Previews: September 14,15 & 18
OPENING NIGHT: September 19, 2019
Runs: September 19- October 13, 2019
The hive is buzzing at Ghana’s most exclusive boarding school as Paulina, the reigning Queen Bee has her sights set on the Miss Universe Pageant. Her glory is threatened when the arrival of Ericka, a new student with undeniable beauty and talent captures the attention of the pageant recruiter – and Paulina’s hive minded friends. This biting comedy explores the universal similarities of teenage girls across the globe who vie for a coveted social position among peers. How far would you go to be queen bee?
More Than Christmas
G – Holiday Musical/ World Premiere
By Celeste Bedford Walker,
Original Music by Stephanie Blue
Directed by Eileen J. Morris
Previews: November 9, 10, 13
OPENING NIGHT: November 14, 2019
Runs: November 14 – December 29, 2019
The Ford and Brooks family members are celebrating Christmas at Granny Ursie’s house this year, which is old and in need of renovation. The undercurrent through all the holiday festivities is that the family is using this gathering to lovingly convince Granny to sell her home. The Dew of Mercy is a light and warmhearted story about family, faith, and forgiveness.
The Green Book
PG- Drama/ Regional Premiere
By Calvin Alexander Ramsey
Directed By Shirley Jo Finney
Previews: January 18, 19, 22
OPENING NIGHT: January 23, 2020
Runs: January 18 – February 23, 2020
Inspired by Victor Hugo Green’s historical “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” the setting takes place during a weekend when the Davis’ are celebrating the arrival of Dr. W. E. B. DuBois for a lecture. The appearance of a white visitor, who turns out to be a Jewish Holocaust survivor, sets off a chain of events that shows that racism and anti-Semitism cannot be ignored. This play is an investigation of the impact of Civil Rights on contemporary American issues.
PG-13 Drama/ Regional Premiere
By Richard Wesley
Directed by Eileen J. Morris
Previews: March 14,15,18
OPENING NIGHT: March 19, 2020
Runs: March 19 – April 12, 2020
By preeminent playwright, screenwriter & NYU professor Richard Wesley, Autumn tells the story of Franklyn Longley, a veteran big city mayor who is line to become the first Black governor of his state. He suddenly finds his place in history threatened when his party decides to throw its nomination behind a dynamic young politician who is also Black and just so happens to be the Mayor’s protégé. This political drama explores the conflicts that arise when aspirations collide across a generational divide marked by sharply different political agendas.
Beatbox: a raparetta
PG-13 Drama-Regional Premiere
By Dan Wolf and Tommy Shepherd
Directed by Rachel Hemphill Dickson
Previews: May 9, 10, 13
OPENING NIGHT: May 9, 2020
Runs: May 9 – June 7, 2020
BEATBOX: A Raparetta is a modern dramatic musical production written and performed in rhythm and rhyme with vocal drumbeats (beatboxing), hip hop dance and a live DJ! The play is soaked in the beat and the heat of hip-hop culture. It provokes a sense of desperation held at bay. The powerful rap rhymes built from equal parts of anger and hope; and the constant threat of violence. The focus is on the lives of two stepbrothers, and the circumstances that begin to pull them apart, as they navigate through loss, jealousy, poverty, and dreams.
Respect: A Musical Journey of Women
PG – Musical/Regional Premiere
By Dr. Dorothy Marcic
Directed and Choreographed by Patdro Harris
Musical Direction by Chika Kaba Ma’tunde
Previews: June 20, 21, 24
OPENING NIGHT: June 20, 2020
Runs: June 25 – July 26, 2020
Respect, a resonating anthem of solidarity and empowerment in times of struggle and evolution was burned into the hearts of women by Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul. A story told through Top-40 music, Respect: A Musical Journey of Women combines excerpts of 60 songs with women’s own stories about finding dreams, lost love, relationship issues, entering the workforce, gaining independence, and more. Songs such as “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “I Will Survive,” “I Will Follow Him,” “These Boots are Made for Walking,” and “What’s Love Got to Do with it” gave insight to the thoughts, emotions, and actions of women around the world.
For information regarding subscriptions, tickets, group sales, and other theatre programming call The Ensemble Theatre Box Office: 713-520-0055 or visit www.EnsembleHouston.com.
The Ensemble Theatre was founded in 1976 by the late George Hawkins to preserve African American artistic expression and to enlighten, entertain, and enrich a diverse community. Forty years later, the theatre has evolved from a small touring company to one of Houston’s finest historical cultural institutions.
The Ensemble is one of a few professional theatres in the region dedicated to the production of works portraying the African American experience. The oldest and largest professional African American theatre in the Southwest, it holds the distinction of being one of the nation’s largest African American theatres owning and operating its facility and producing in-house. The late Board President Emerita Audrey Lawson led the capital campaign for The Ensemble’s $4.5 million building renovations that concluded in 1997. The Ensemble Theatre has fulfilled and surpassed the vision of its founder and continues to expand and create innovative programs to bring African American theatre to myriad audiences.