The Ensemble Theatre special project series entitled: Celebrating the Creative Journey will include its BOLD Women’s Leadership Network Master Classes facilitated by a roster of all-female arts industry leaders, Adult Sessions (Men and Women) Saturday, October 27, 2018, 9:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and Teen Sessions (Girls Age 13-19) Saturday, November 10, 2018 Noon-3:00 p.m. Main Street, Houston, TX 77002.

“We are looking forward to our upcoming master classes along with other projects planned and managed by Artistic Associate Rachel Hemphill Dickson,” says Ensemble Theatre Artistic Director Eileen J. Morris. “She was our top candidate among several competitive applicants to work with us under the BOLD Women’s Leadership Network grant.”

Rachel Hemphill Dickson holds many professional titles including: educator, actress, director, playwright, and founder of Driven Theatre company. She stands out as one of Houston’s emerging artistic leaders because of her broad spectrum of theatrical experience both on and off stage.

“I am excited to work with The Ensemble Theatre, and I’m both honored and humbled to have earned this selection,” says Dickson. “This is an opportunity for me to further hone my skills as an artist and a leader.”

Celebrating the Creative Journey — BOLD Master Classes
(Open to Both Men and Women)
Saturday, October 27, 9:00am-3:30pm

Celebrating the Creative Journey — BOLD Master Classes
(Teen Girls Age 13-19)
Saturday, November 10, Noon-3:00pm

The Ensemble Theatre
3535 Main St. Houston, TX 77002

Rachel Hemphill Dickson

Classes will be facilitated by the following dynamic women who, combined, have over 1000+ productions to their credit:

(Lighting) Kris Phelps is entering her 12th season with the Ensemble Theatre, from whom she has received 5 Giorgee Awards and several nominations for best lighting design of the season. In addition to theater, she has designed for numerous dance companies and choreographers, children’s theater and opera, and live music of many genres. Her career has taken her across the US, Canada and Mexico. She has a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

(Stage Management) Rachel R. Bush is an Assistant Professor at the University of Houston School of Theater & Dance, where she is the program head for the BFA in Stage Management and a recipient of the Ross M. Lence Teaching Excellence Award. In her 20 years of stage management, Rachel has had the privilege of working with amazing companies and artists from Broadway and Off-Broadway to the Regions, Internationally and the Event & Corporate world.

(Acting) Ella Joyce is an actress and author best known and beloved for her television role of “Eleanor” on TV’s Black family sitcom “Roc”. She has worked extensively in Regional Theatre and recently earned both the JEFF Award and the BTAA Award from the Goodman Theatre in Chicago for Lynne Nottage’s Crumbs From the Table of Joy. Ella also has world-premiered two August Wilson plays directed by Lloyd Richards, Two Trains Running and King Hedley II. She’s toured her one-woman critically acclaimed play A Rose Among Thorns a tribute to Rosa Parks across the nation. Ella is also author of the popular, entertaining paperback “Kink Phobia, Journey Through A Black Woman’s Hair.”

(Directing) Shirley Jo Finney, an alumnus of the American Film Institute’s Director Workshop for Women with an MFA degree from UCLA is an award-winning international director of theatre, television, and film, as well as an accomplished actress. Most recently, Miss Finney directed and developed the critically acclaimed world premiere of Citizen: An American Lyric, by the award-winning PEN poet Claudia Rankin. Other recent works index Facing Our Truth:The Trayvon Martin Project at the Kirk Douglas theatre. The Lark Foundations rolling premier of The Road Weeps, by Marcus Gardley at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Brother/Sisters Plays, Lisa B Thompson’s Single Black Female at the Crossroads Theater, Company and Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit 67 at the Penumbra Theater.

(SET) Janelle Flanagan has been engaged by The Ensemble Theatre for over 20 years and works at numerous theaters throughout Houston, including Houston Grand Opera. Her most recent productions at The Ensemble Theatre were The Old Settler (National Black Theatre Festival presentation), Two Old Black Guys Sitting Around Talking, and Cuttin’ Up. She is a member of IATSE Wardrobe Union Local 896.

(Teen Facilitator) Toya Lillard is a theater director, artist, activist and educator. A native Houstonian from an artistic family, Toya graduated from Houston’s High School for Performing and Visual Arts, then attended Vassar College and further developed her interest in arts education, particularly in the use of theatre to help youth address issue relevant to their personal and civic development.

In February 2018, Morris was selected among the first five female artistic leaders in the Nation awarded part of a $1.25 million gift of The Pussycat Foundation and Northern Stage in support of women artistic directors in professional theaters across the United States.

The BOLD Theater Women’s Leadership Circle grant, funded by the Pussycat Foundation is led by Carol Dunne, Producing Artistic Director of Northern Stage, and its mission is to create a network of women artistic directors in professional theaters across the United States and empower them to address the issues preventing women from advancing in theater leadership.

“”Pussycat” was a term of endearment used by Cosmopolitan Editor and unapologetic feminist Helen Gurley George,” says Morris. “We still get a giggle when we say it out loud, but this foundation established in her spirit and legacy paired with the BOLD Women’s Leadership Network is a clear demonstration of the empowerment through sisterhood for which I am a strong advocate in this industry.”

Celebrating the Creative Journey is a series of special projects and presentations The Ensemble Theatre has planned outside its main stage season. The upcoming stage readings, 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

Celebrating the Creative Journey is generously funded in part by Texas Commission on the Arts.

The Ensemble Theatre was founded in 1976 by the late George Hawkins to preserve African American artistic expression and enlighten, entertain and enrich a diverse community. In addition to being hailed as 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.

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. The Young Performers Program offers intensive summer training for children ages 6 to 17 encompassing instruction in all disciplines of the theatre arts.