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  Media Release
CONTACT:  Robert Ross
  April 29, 2019
(713) 310-1648/ 713-520-0055
  For Immediate Release

The Ensemble Theatre Elevates Awareness of School-to-Prison Pipeline
In Play “Pipeline” by Dominique Morisseau

HOUSTON (April 29, 2019) – The Ensemble Theatre elevates awareness of the school-to-prison pipeline in the play Pipeline by Dominque Morriseau and directed by Rachel Hemphill Dickson, opening night and media reception Thursday, May 9, 6:30 p.m. 3535 Main Street, Houston, TX 77002.

In January 2018, the American Bar Association Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice issued a report focusing on failures in the educational system including examples that certain groups -- students of color (African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American) with disabilities, or LGBTQ— are disproportionately over-or incorrectly categorized in special education, are disciplined more harshly, including referral to law enforcement for minimal misbehavior, achieve at lower levels, and eventually drop or are pushed out of school, often into juvenile justice facilities and prisons—a pattern now commonly referred to as the School-to-Prison Pipeline.

“The play brings us into the national conversation about what has been happening in our schools,” says Hemphill Dickson. “The characters in this play are faced with examining student experiences in an inner-city versus a private school, the role the family environment plays, and the accountability of the education governing body.”

Pipeline tells the story of Nya, an inner-city public high school teacher, who is committed to her students but desperate to give her only son Omari opportunities they’ll never have. When a controversial incident at his upstate private school threatens to get him expelled, Nya must confront his rage and her own choices as a parent. But will she be able to reach him before a world beyond her control pulls him away?

Featured Cast members include: Teacake Ferguson (NYA); Tanner Ellis and Isaiah Holloway (OMARI); Brianna Odo-Boms (JASMINE); Curtis Von (XAVIER); Dealdon R. Watson (DUN); Marcy Bannor (LAURIE).

Previews:  May 4, 5, and 8, 2019
Show Runs: May 9 – Jun 2, 2019

Performance Days and Times: Thursdays: 7:30 p.m; Fridays: 8:00 p.m; Saturdays: 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m; and Sundays: 3:00 p.m.

Tickets Available Online:    For Information Call: 713-520-0055

Ticket Prices: $23- $50

Opening Night and Media Reception, Thursday, May 9, 2019, 6:30 p.m.

Rachel Hemphill Dickson is The Ensemble Theatre BOLD Artistic Associate as part of
the Pussycat Foundation BOLD Leadership Circle, an initiative to cultivate female artistic leaders. She has directed several productions including: Platanos Y Collard Greens (The Ensemble Theatre), Sarah and Joshua: A Juneteenth Musical (MillerOutdoor Theatre), Harlem After Hours, Neat, Lend Me A Tenor (PVAMU), Medea, Diary of Anne Frank, and You Can’t Take It With You (UH-Downtown).

Hemphill Dickson has performed on The Ensemble Theatre stage in numerous productions beginning in 1997 including The Trial of One Short Sighted Woman versus Safreeta Mae and Mamie Louise,
Seven Guitars, The Story, Eighth Day of the Week and the Giorgee award-winning productions,
Cinderella (Best Supporting Actress), The Ballad of Emmett Till and American Menu (Best Ensemble). Additional stage credits include her original one woman play Belonging performed at The Ensemble Theatre, Men On Boats, Third, Civil War Christmas (Main Street Theater), The Courage of Mandy Kate Brown, In Between (Stages Theater), Sin, Debutante Ball, Tartuffe (Actor’s Theater of Houston) and Medea (DaDa Productions). Rachel has been a three-time performer at the National Black Theatre Festival and has also earned numerous on camera and voice-over credits.

Dominique Morisseau, Playwright, Actress, and 2018 MacArthur Fellow who got her BFA in Acting from the University of Michigan and her start as a performance poet in the Detroit community of Harmonie Park. She has since become a noted award-winning playwright in NYC and is currently developing a 3-play cycle about her hometown, entitled “The Detroit Projects.”  The inaugural play Detroit ’67, about the riots/rebellion in 1967, originated at the Public Theater and extended at Classical Theatre of Harlem with the National Black Theatre. The production was nominated for 8 Audelco Theatre Awards including Best Playwright. The second play Paradise Blue, about Detroit’s 1949 jazz community uprooted by urban renewal, was the winner of the L. Arnold Weissberger Award and received development at Williamstown Theatre Festival, McCarter Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, and the Public Theater. The third and final play Skeleton Crew, about a makeshift family of workers at the last exporting auto plant in the city, recently received a Barebones production at the Lark Play Development Center. Ms. Morisseau, a recent PoNY (Playwright of New York) fellow, is also generating a substantial body of work independent of the Detroit cycle: Sunset Baby, Follow Me To Nellie’s, and Blood At The Root. Her work has also been published in NY Times bestseller- “Chicken Soup for the African American Soul” and in the Harlem-based literary journal “Signifyin’ Harlem.” She is a Jane Chambers Playwriting Award honoree, a two-time NAACP Image Award recipient, honoree for the Primus Prize by the American Theatre Critics Association, and winner of the Stavis Playwriting Award. U of M has also awarded her with their Emerging Leader Award, and the city of Detroit has honored her with a Spirit of Detroit award. Most substantially, Dominique has recently been awarded the esteemed Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama. She is an artist that believes wholeheartedly in the power and strength of community.

The Ensemble Theatre's 2018-2019 Season is sponsored in part by grants from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. United Airlines is the official airline sponsor for The Ensemble Theatre.

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 held 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.