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Jhanielle A. Brown Photographer & Blogger

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PHOTOJOURNAL True Perfection Rae-Shell D. Fletcher


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JHANIELLE ALEXIS BROWN Stand Alone | Be Alone | Think For Yourself

KEVIN GOODIE The Shot Kevin’s lighting technique produces a photography masterpiece


Skin care tips from Donyale MUA, professional make-up artist


Short story about the hair stylists at True Perfection Hair Salon


Preserving the culture of the community should be a prerequisite of any institution that uses art as a tool to educate. The Ensemble Theatre has proven to be a vessel that continues to maintain this theme. President of the African American Photography Association, Thomas Carter, had a chance to sit down with the Artistic Director of the Ensemble Theatre, Eileen Morris. His interview allowed him to take a glimpse into how the Ensemble speaks to the African American Experience. Morris explains the mission of the Ensemble. “To educate entertain and enrich a diverse culture and the voice to be heard by people of all ethnicities. The stories that are being told are human stories.” The ensemble theatre was founded in 1976 by the late Mr. George Hawkins. From inception, holding 80 audience members, the facility has grown from a quaint 1000 square foot structure to now employing three stages. “We moved six blocks down and became the cultural anchor of midtown.” Now producing six plays per year running 4-6 weeks with subscriptions, the Ensemble also tours plays outside of Houston and remains influential in the community traveling to schools and organizations. Born and raised in a small town 60 miles south of Chicago, Illinois, Morris would travel with her family to Texas to spend summers and holidays with relatives. For her love of the Bayou City and its warm weather, Morris would opt to move to Houston after college 2

Rae-Shell D. Fletcher Community Spotlight Writer

and marriage. Morris’s sister orchestrated the meeting that would forever change her life. “When I came here, my sister knew George Hawkins and, so she introduced me to him and I always said George saw something in me, that I didn’t see in myself.” Mr. Hawkins saw Morris’s ability to work with a diverse group of people by her ability to organize and bring artists, audiences, and vendors together for the common good of the people. He asked Morris to start working with him as his Managing Director, soon transitioning her to spearhead the educational aspects of the theatre. When Mr. Hawkins passed away in 1990, Audrey Lawson and the board of directors asked Morris to take over and become the artistic director. “I really felt compelled, and I wanted to be able to contribute and make a difference.” With a goal to tell stories that shed light on human experience and the African American perspective, Morris assures that each production is humanized. With each performance, the audience should be able to relate and become absorbed with similar situations as art imitates life. Morris recalls an example always given by Executive Director Janette Cosley; “We did a play called ‘Cinderella’ about six years ago. The cover of the playbill had a beautiful woman, Cinderella, and she was just a pretty chocolate. When the young girls would come to see the play they would be dressed AFRAM NEWS EDITION

WWW.FOTOSHOOTMAGAZINE.COM up in gowns and tiaras because they were having an experience, a theatrical experience! And when they would look at the cover of the playbill and see a little chocolate girl dressed in a beautiful ball gown, they would say ‘Oh Mommy, she looks like me!’ That’s the reason that we do theatre, and that’s the reason that we want our voices to be heard.” Alongside its mission, the Ensemble Theatre prides itself on hosting a young performance training program for youth ages 6 to 17. In this program, professionals train students in acting, dance, music and technical theatre. Morris states “We are not trying to make actors and directors and dancers. We are trying to teach them life skills that they will use forever.” The youth are taught to make eye contact when talking to others, how to speak articulately, how to follow and give directions, and how to work as an ensemble, hence the name of the company. In efforts to continue Mr. Hawkins’ legacy, Morris and the Ensemble Theatre strives to let everyone know that they are here for the community. The audacity of learning and understanding fuels this journey and it’s powered by the cultivated passion of having the African American voice heard. Thus, the desire for education and knowledge of art supports the importance of an institution like the Ensemble Theatre. Morris concludes “This thread connects all human beings, all ethnicities, and all genders.” Mr. Hawkins’ dream was to create a place that the community would be proud of and where artists could come together. “The ‘E’ in Ensemble Theatre stands for ‘everyone,’ and everyone counts.” •

Thomas Carter Photojournalist

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FotoShoot Vol. 1 Issue 2 (February)  

AANI Version

FotoShoot Vol. 1 Issue 2 (February)  

AANI Version