Pretty Fire

Vimeo On-Demand ~ May 7-30, 2021

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Charlayne Woodard Photo


Charlayne Woodard is a two-time Obie Award winner and Tony Award nominee. Her new two-character play, The Garden, a commission of the LaJolla Playhouse, has productions scheduled in 2021 at both Baltimore Center Stage and The LaJolla Playhouse.

Charlayne’s first solo play, Pretty Fire, was produced at the Fountainhead Theatre in Los Angeles, where it received L.A. Drama Critics and NAACP awards for best play and best playwright; Manhattan Theatre Club; Seattle Rep (directed by Dan Sullivan); and the La Jolla Playhouse (directed by Michael Greif).

Her second solo play, Neat, was developed at Seattle Rep, and subsequently produced at Manhattan Theatre Club, where it received the Irving and Blanche Laurie Theatre Vision Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award nomination; Seattle Rep and the Mark Taper Forum (both directed by Dan Sullivan), where the play received a Backstage West Garland Award.

Her third solo play, In Real Life, was a co-commission by Center Theatre Group and Seattle Rep, and developed at the Sundance Theatre Lab.  In Real Life (directed by Dan Sullivan) was produced at: Seattle Rep; the Mark Taper Forum, where the play received a Backstage West Garland Award and NAACP Awards for best playwright and actor; and Manhattan Theatre Club, where Ms. Woodard received an Audelco Award and was nominated for Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for best solo performance.

Her fourth solo play, The Night Watcher, was developed at the Ojai Playwrights’ Conference and the La Jolla Playhouse’s Page To The Stage. The Night Watcher, directed by Dan Sullivan, was produced at Seattle Rep; Primary Stages; and the Kirk Douglas Theatre, where the play received LA Drama Critics and NAACP Awards for best solo performance, as well as nominations from both for best play.

Flight, a multi-character adaptation of African and African-American folktales, was commissioned by Center Theatre Group. Productions include the Lincoln Museum, Springfield, IL; Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles; and ACT in Seattle. Her ten-minute play, Phenom, was performed as part of the Car Plays series produced by the LaJolla Playhouse. Grace, a solo musical, written with Kristin Childs, was commissioned and produced by Inner Voices in New York City.

Charlayne’s plays are published by Dramatists Play Service and performed at regional theatres around the country. Audio versions are available at



Rachel currently serves as the BOLD Artistic Associate at The Ensemble Theatre. She has worked as a professional artist in the larger arts community as an actor, director, producer, playwright, dramaturg, educator, artistic consultant, and facilitator.

While she calls The Ensemble Theatre home, she has worked with various theatres throughout the Houston community, including: The Alley Theatre, Main Street Theatre, Stages Repertory Theatre, Landing Theatre Company, Rec Room Theatre, Interactive Theatre Company and Wordsmyth Theatre. She has worked with all ages from Kindergarten to adult, in a variety of settings, teaching a wide-spread of topics from mathematics to theatre, having received degrees Engineering, Theatre and Social work form University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Illinois, and University of Houston, respectively. Rachel works in service to Scriptwriters Houston, Wordsmyth Theater and Black Theater Network. She is also a member of Dramatist Guild and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

Her most exciting works have included: The Ensemble Theatre Giorgee award-winning productions of Cinderella (Best Supporting Actress), Checkmates (Best Actress), The Ballad of Emmett Till (Best Ensemble and National Black Theatre Festival), American Menu (Best Ensemble) and Pipeline (Best Director); actress in I, Too, Am America Seven Guitars, An American Menu, Plenty of Time, One Short Sighted Black Woman versus Safreeta Mae and Mammie Louis; director for Pretty FirePlatanos Y Collard GreenBelonging (Playwright, Producer, Actor - DTC/The Ensemble Theatre).  Additional exciting works include: Dutch Masters (Northern Stage Theatre); Third (Actor - Main Street Theater); Men On Boats (Actor -  Main Street Theatre, Houston Press Best Ensemble); Neat and Harlem After Hours (Director - Prairie View A&M University; The Diary of Anne Frank (Director - University of Houston-Downtown); Erie Canal (Playwright, Fade to Black Festival), To Each His Own (Playwright - SWH 10x10 Festival); Trombone Trash (Playwright – SWH 10x10 Festival, published with Next Stage Press); and devised work writer/producer for multiple conferences.


As Artistic Director of The Ensemble Theatre, she has produced over 87 productions which include eight world premieres, over 64 regional premieres and directed over 80 productions throughout her career. She is part of the First Cohort of the BOLD Theater Women's Leadership Circle and was named the 2017 Houston Women Magazine 50 Most Influential Women, Broadway World Director of the Decade for August Wilson's Fences, Broadway World Houston Awards Best Director for Sassy Mamas and received the 2016 Houston Press Theater Award for Best Director for August Wilson’s Fences. Her most recent Ensemble Theatre directing credits include Freeda Peoples, Too Heavy For Your Pocket, ‘da kink in my hair, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Eighth Day of the Week, Front Porch Society, Sassy Mamas, Plenty of Time, Detroit ’67, What I Learned in Paris, Women in the Pit and By the Way Meet Vera Stark to name a few. Under her artistic leadership, The Ensemble Theatre received the 2013 Houston Press Best Season Theater Award and has performed at The Winston Salem- National Black Theatre Festival for the past ten years.

In Pittsburgh, she directs annually with the New Horizon Theater and has ties that include Pittsburgh Playwright’s Theatre, Kuntu Repertory Theatre, and City Theatre. In Houston, her directing credits include the 2016 Houston Grand Opera world premiere of What Wings They Were: The Story of Emeline and the 2010 Alley Theatre’s production of I, Barbara Jordan. In 2017 she received the Black Theatre Network’s Larry Leon Hamlin Award, the BCCM Kim Kupp Award, and was recognized as one of Houston’s Top 50 Black Professionals and Entrepreneurs by She is a 2016 recipient of the PACE Foundation Community Award and received the 2016 Houston Community College - Central Campus Unstoppable Leaders Award. Currently, she serves as secretary on the board of the Theatre Communications Group, Board Chair of the Midtown Management District, Board Consultant of the Black Theatre Network and a board member of the Houston Cinema Arts Society. A graduate of Northern Illinois University, Eileen holds the distinct privilege of being the ONLY woman in the country to direct eight plays of the August Wilson Ten Play Cycle.This August Wilson quote embodies her creative journey:

“Art does not change the world; it changes people; and people change the world."



Delali Potakey is excited about her third performance with The Ensemble Theatre! Other theatre credits include Freeda Peoples, Sistas, All Shook Up, Joseph and the Amazing Color Technicolor Dreamcoat, Doubt, The Crucible, and Chicago. She’s always grateful for the opportunity to serve through performance.


Crystal Rae is a Houston-based actor and educator who calls Chicago home. In addition to performing on stage she is an award-winning playwright whose one-woman plays have been performed in Houston, NYC, and Chicago and is a proud member of the Dramatist Guild. Her newest journey will be with the Jonathan Williams Center for the Performing Arts(JWCPA) of Beaumont and Riant Theatres who received Black Seed grants and have chosen Tied, a one man play to sponsor in a reading at New York's Riant Theatre. Tied is Crystal Rae's first published work. Learn more at


This will be Krystal’s second time performing at The Ensemble Theatre! You may remember her from the 2019-2020 Season performance of School Girls; or the African Mean Girls Play. Her other acting credits include: Dirt Dogs Theatre Company; Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, Mildred’s Umbrella Theatre Company; Roots of LilySix Triple EightThe Water Rumbles in Limbo Time, Fade to Black Play Festival; Escaping Inward, Montgomery County Shakespeare Festival; Measure for Measure, Express Children’s Theater; Rhyme and Reason, Firecracker Productions; Pedigree, and The Company Onstage; Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Parallel Leighzaverses. B.F.A University of Houston.


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