The Ensemble Accepts Invitation to Perform at the National Black Theatre Festival
HOUSTON, June 24, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Ensemble Theatre accepts an invitation to participate in the National Black Theatre Festival held in Winston Salem, NC July 29 – August 2, 2013.
The National Black Theatre Festival is the largest platform for bringing black theatre companies together across the country to participate in presenting plays, readings, workshops, and seminars to ensure the survival of the genre. Held biennially, the festival attracts more than 65,000 people during the six-day event.
"It is imperative that black theatre companies continue to grow professionally, explore new perspectives, and find innovative ways to tell our stories," says Eileen J. Morris, Ensemble Artistic Director. "We are excited about this being our fourth opportunity to commune with our brothers and sisters in the arts."
The Ensemble Theatre will participate in the festival with a performance from its 2011-2012 Season: The Ballad of Emmett Till by Ifa Bayeza and directed by Elizabeth Van Dyke. The play will be performed by The Ensemble's original cast Kendrick "Kay" Brown, Rachel H. Dickson, Broderick Jones, Joseph "Joe P" Palmore, and Lee Waddell.
The Ensemble Theatre performances will be in the Arts Council Theatre, 601 Coliseum Dr. August 2nd and 3rd at 3pm and 8pm.
Winner of the 2009 Edgar Award, presented by Mystery Writers of America, The Ballad of Emmett Till' is told through contemporary prose with the infusion of jazz. A month after his fourteenth birthday, this confident youth from Chicago, a boy on the threshold of manhood, embarks on a summer trip to Mississippi. His pursuit of happiness and liberty are pierced with the poignancy of life. The 1955 lynching of Emmett Till fell on the cusp of a saga that changed the course of the nation.
Belated, Larry Leon Hamlin founded the National Black Theatre Festival in 1989 to unite Black theatre companies in America and ensure their survival into the next millennium. With the support of Dr. Maya Angelou (who served as the Festival's first Chairperson) the National Black Theatre Festival was born. The '89 Festival offered 30 performances by 17 of America's best professional black theatre companies. It attracted national and international media coverage. According to The New York Times, "The 1989 National Black Theatre Festival was one of the most historic and culturally significant events in the history of black theatre and American theatre in general." Over 10,000 people attended. It lived up to its theme: "An International Celebration and Reunion of Spirit."
"Leon Larry Hamlin was a pioneer who had a dream, much like The Ensemble Theatre's founder, George Hawkins…he pursued every avenue possible to make that dream come true with his vision to create a festival that celebrates the art of African Americans in which celebrities, theatre founders, technicians, actors, directors playwrights, filmmakers, and educators come together through performing, networking, and engaging in a dynamic way," says Morris. "Larry Leon Hamlin left a legacy of engaging the arts that would forever change and impact the nation's perspective of our culture."
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. The theatre is known as the only professional theatre in its region dedicated to the production of works portraying the African American experience. In addition to being the oldest and largest professional African-American theatre in the Southwest, it also holds the distinction of being one of the nation's largest African American theatres that owns and operates its facility with an in-house production team. Board President Emeritus Audrey Lawson led the capital campaign for The Ensemble's $4.5 million building renovations that concluded in 1997.
The Ensemble Theatre produces a main stage season of six contemporary and classic works devoted to the portrayal of the African American experience by local and national playwrights and artists. The theatre's Performing Arts Education program provides educational workshops, Artist-in-Residence experiences and live performances for students both off-site and at the theatre. Through its varied programs, The Ensemble Theatre benefits an audience and artistic constituency of approximately 65,000 people annually.