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Artistic Director

Eileen J. Morris

This year, I celebrate my 11th year of returning ‘coming home’ to The Ensemble Theatre as Artistic Director, but my 35th year with The Ensemble Theatre, the place where my professional life truly began, where my artistic and administrative skills were enhanced, and where my love of Houston, and all of its cultural riches, were formed. In the early years, as Managing Director, I worked closely with our founder, George W. Hawkins as his “right hand” and together we forged a wonderful bond forged out of our mutual desires to grow The Ensemble Theatre as a cultural institution of integrity, of strength, and both of us being committed to experiencing the joys and pains of producing high quality theatre, and providing artists an artistic home. We are thankful to be such an integral part of the cultural landscape of the City of Houston, and we are blessed to have the support of the community of supporters like you! It is through the lens of these magical moments that this season’s theme is Live it! Love it! Celebrate!

In our lives, we seek cultural adventures that mirror our day to day existence, issues we face, or obstacles that we have overcome. Some hit closer to home than others, but ultimately, we look for a reflection of ourselves, and our connection to others in the art and culture around us. We kick off our 41st season with the back-by-popular-demand production of Celeste Bedford Walker’s Sassy Mamas, where three feisty friends decide to flip the script & date MUCH younger men! A new holiday show, Soulful Sounds of Christmas (book by Gregory Williams and music and lyrics by Chika Kaba Ma’atunde), gifts us with a Christmas miracle adventure connecting two unlikely families, and is celebrated through soulful holiday music that engages the entire community into the spirit. We pay tribute to American icon Muhammad Ali, and discover the little-known history of the highest paid actor of his time, Stepin Fetchit, in Will Power’s Fetch Clay, Make Man.

The topic of Alzheimer’s disease in the black community is explored bravely by award winning playwright Prester Pickett in Eighth Day of the Week, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, the only play of his Pittsburgh cycle to be set in another city, Chicago, Illinois, tells the story of legendary blues singer, Ma Rainey, who, despite her enormous talent faces a number of obstacles in getting her recordings made, and supporting herself and her bandmates. The season finale, Dorothy Marcic’s Sistas: The Musical takes us on a musical trip down memory lane as a family reunites to celebrate their matriarch’s legacy.

This season, we LIVE the pain, the joy, we certainly LOVE the growth that comes with each new experience and we CELEBRATE, the common thread that brings our audiences, and community, together. Join us this season, tell a friend, gather your groups and support your institution, your theatre home, The Ensemble Theatre, as we Live it! Love it! Celebrate!

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.