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Artistic Director

Eileen J. Morris

The Ensemble Theatre has made great leaps and bounds since its founding by George Hawkins in 1976. In the beginning, George mounted tours of educational plays while working out of his Cadillac, with a dream that he would be able to provide a space and platform upon which artists of color could hone and perfect their craft. Many people worked together in those early days to dialogue, plan, set the ‘scene,’ and lay a strong foundation for The Ensemble Theatre. Everyone was equally invested, all for the love and the good of the ‘art’.

We are grateful that so many people believed in George’s dream and were willing to help develop The Ensemble, and make that dream come true. It is from that dream that a myriad of artistic voices would be heard, a range of stories would be told, and one could experience art that was reflective of the diversity of our communities. Plays were chosen that had just been produced On and Off Broadway, were world premieres, and that reflected the respect and excellence of an institution striving for the best in all of its endeavors.

Today, our mission has not changed- we continue to preserve and cultivate African American arts and culture; to enlighten, entertain and enrich diverse communities. As stewards of The Ensemble Theatre, fulfilling our mission requires more than just producing plays; it requires providing a home where artists can grow and showcase their talents, where generations of our youth have a place to develop life-skills through the arts, and a place where our audiences can experience works of art that stimulate critical thinking and encourage dialogue that moves us to change or rethink the world in which we live.

The Ensemble Theatre is an integral part of Houston’s cultural capital. It’s an institution where stories are told from a perspective that places African American culture at the center, helping us, as a city, to uncover our truths, and our collective history. Our season theme-
Dawn of a New Decade is driven by the idea that, in the words of Ghandi, “We must become the change we wish to see.”

We will continue to seek plays that engage and challenge artists and audiences; plays that expand the options for the way we navigate life; plays that will stand the test of time and strengthen our foundation, as August Wilson says, “the ground on which I stand.” We invite you to join us as we look fearlessly into the future and celebrate our forty years, and on this “Dawn of a New Decade,” look with excitement upon the possibilities for the arts to impact lives and inspire change in the years to come.

BIO

Eileen J. Morris, is a director, actress and educator. She worked closely with the founder of The EnsembleTheatre, George W. Hawkins, from 1982 until his death in 1990. As artistic director, she has produced over 78 productions, which include four world premieres and 57 regional premieres.

Under her artistic leadership, The Ensemble Theatre received the 2013 Best Season Theatre Award from the Houston Press. In 2007, The Ensemble Theatre was named Best Theatre by the Houston Press and 2007 Best Showcase for African American Actors by the Ultimate Section of the Houston Chronicle. The Ensemble Theatre also presented two out of the 10 best plays named by the Houston Chronicle as the Best of Houston Theatre 2008.

Some of her Ensemble Theatre directing credits include What I Learned In Paris, Women In The Pit, Immediate Family, By The Way Meet Vera Stark, The Old Settler, Race, Broke-ology, The Nacirema Society (Giorgee Award winner for Best Production in 2013) King Hedley II, Cuttin’ Up, Lotto: Experience the Dream, Jitney, The Waiting Room, Stick Fly (named one of the top 2010 plays– Houston Chronicle), American Menu (2010 Giorgee Award winner for Best Ensemble and named one of the top 2010 plays - Houston Chronicle), Seven Guitars (Named one of the top 2009 plays - Houston Chronicle) The Man Who Saved New Orleans, Radio Golf, Ashes to Africa, Christmas is Comin’ Uptown, Sty of the Blind Pig (Giorgee Award winner for Best Production in 2008) and Blue. Her strong Pittsburgh ties are directing at New Horizon Theatre The Meeting, Do Lord Remember Me, Nothin’ But the Blues, Hi Hat Hattie, I Gotcha: The Joe Tex Story (winner of the 2010 African American Council on the Arts Award) and at a few others such as Pittsburgh Playwright’s Theatre - Radio Golf, King Hedley II, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Fences, Liftin’, and Flyin’ West at Kuntu Repertory Theatre.

Her artistic journey with the Alley Theatre includes directing it’s touring production of I, Barbara Jordan for three years and performing in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, A Christmas Carol (for three years) and understudying several productions. She was featured in the Women In Theatre Magazine (December 2011 Issue), a conversationalist with Table Talk through the University of Houston’s 2011 Women’s Studies Department, and honored at the National Black Theatre Festival with the Larry Leon Hamlin Producer Award. She received the 2012 Missouri City Chapter of Links Inc. Our Choice Award. She is a board member, secretary and Cultural Arts Committee Chair of the Midtown Management District and a board member of the national organization, The Black Theatre Network. She is the only woman in the country that has directed eight of the August Wilson Ten Play Cycle.