THE ENSEMBLE THEATRE
Artistic Director of The Ensemble Theatre EILEEN J. MORRIS
By Nathan Louis Jackson
Directed by Eileen J. Morris
March 21 - April 14, 2013
(L-R) Joseph "JoeP" Palmore as Malcom King, Broderick Jones as the father William King and L. D. Green as the oldest son Ennis King. The King family enjoys playing a game of Dominos to pass the time. BROKE-OLOGY is showing through April 14, 2013 at the Ensemble Theatre located at 3535 Main Street, Houston Texas 77002 USA. For more information, click on www.EnsembleHouston.com
A LIFEíS JOURNEY
Interviews with Joseph ďJoePĒ Palmore and Autumn Knight for BROKE-OLOGY at the Ensemble Theatre
By Theresa Pisula
March 21, 2013
The Ensemble Theatre kicks off its spring production BROKE-OLOGY by playwright Nathan Louis Jackson and brilliantly directed by the Ensemble Theatreís Artistic Director Eileen J. Morris. BROKE-OLOGY brings poignant attention to the trials of two siblings in conflict over the care of their ailing father who has multiple sclerosis (MS). The story highlights real truths about a family coping with the seriousness of aging and illness.
ďThis production really touched my heart when I read it,Ē says Ensemble Artistic Director Eileen J. Morris. ďNathan Louis Jackson has written a work that is extremely relevant, and I think so many people will identify with the characters in this play.Ē
Elder care is a growing concern with an aging baby boomer population. Their middle aged children in some cases are divided by distance, leaving one or two siblings or other family members to bear the weight of time, expense and emotional challenges to care for their parent or relative. Sometimes the person in care is suffering from more than the pangs of old age.
From the time we are born, our journey begins. One that is filled with the soul stirring mixture of family, education and careers laced with laughter, strength and love. As our life journey embarks we sometimes can become Ďstuckí in the puzzling dynamics that are representative of who and what we are. The King family though they may be different in ethnicity, gender, creed and community are indicative of possibly someone in the audience. They are a tight knit family that cares, hopes and lives but is now faced with their fatherís deteriorating health. How poignant is this story that tests the very core of how much we sacrifice for those that we love. How does one deal with their daily routine when an illness closes in and disrupts it. How much do we give? We evaluate, we pray, we seek answers and then we just DO.
In accordance with BROKE-OLOGY Ė the science of being broke Ė the King family has learned to balance sacrifice and let love keep them together. Set in a beleaguered Kansas City neighborhood, two grown brothers try to balance the challenges of their own lives with their desires to care for their father who is stricken with multiple illnesses, including multiple sclerosis. Even as they remember simpler times, tension builds between the brothers as their conflicting interests churn into a surprising outcome. BROKE-OLOGY is a warm and wrenching play about a loving African-American family facing its troubles with humor, resiliency and grace.
Featured in the cast is 29-year old Joseph Palmore whose ground-breaking performance was last yearís The Ballad of Emmett Till for which he portrayed the title role and received a Giorgee Award for Best Male Actor. Joseph ďJoePĒ Palmore, a native Houstonian, earned a degree in Mass Communications Ė Radio / TV / Theatre / Film from Clark Atlanta University. JoeP is a veteran poet, co-hosting Poetry Lounge Sundays, an educator teaching Theatre and Poetry with the Alley Theatre; a professional actor enjoying his sixth year with the Ensemble Theatre; and playwright, author of three produced shows, Love Pain Passion Progress: A Poe-A-Trical Life and LP3: The Next Chapter both produced by the Black Box Theatre Group and most recently The Road To A Dream produced by the Ensemble Theatre.
THE BALLAD OF EMMETT TILL
JoeP co-founded the Black Box Theatre Group to not only embody but to fuel artistic and educational growth for new and aspiring artists Ė advocating community building and enrichment through the arts. In 2012 he was named as one of the Houston Press 100 Creatives, recognizing the movers and shakers in the Houston arts community, a model he will continue to follow.
Theresa: The last time I saw you was when you did Emmett Till which was February 2012, a year ago. How have you been?
Joe P.: Yes that was a year ago exactly. Itís been good. Things have been real good since then. I was over at the Alley. I was assistant director for The Mountaintop this past January-February which was an awesome experience. Now Iím back over here and glad to be from behind the table and onstage.
Theresa: Your performance in The Ballad of Emmett Till was awesome! You were amazing. To me it looked like a huge role for you because he was stuttering, making us laugh, he was funny. You carried the whole play. You were onstage the whole time.
Joe P.: I had to be.
Theresa: What does it take to memorize all those lines?
Joe P.: Just practice, practice. I just have a passion for it, just the knack for picking up things quickly. Usually I try to run things 3 or 4 times, Iíve got it. Then from there itís just enhancing it and making it better and making it more believable.
Theresa: You were onstage from start to finish. There was not a pointÖ.
Joe P.: There were times I had moments where I could pass behind. And during those moments I would guzzle as much water as I could. Iíd throw it back and Iím right back out there. That was the main thing about him. That was what he was known for. He was known for talking a lot so he had to talk throughout the whole thing.
Theresa: Even through the stuttering?
Joe P.: What was crazy was how we added that in; which was why she (Elizabeth Van Dyke) was such an awesome director. We didnít even add the stuttering in until the last, like it was the last thing we added in. I was just saying the lines normally when we first started. And then after that now we can add the stutters that were in the script. After that, it came more natural.
Theresa: Were there times when you would forget things? Because you had so many lines! You practically carried the whole show.
Joe P: I had more problems adding things than forgetting things (smiles) soÖ..I try not to add more of my own words. Not really forgetting anything but just to stay on point and hitting every mark. Being in each moment and making it more believable each night because I had to do the same thing night after night.
Theresa: What was your life like before Emmett Till and after Emmett Till? Is it like night and day?
Joe P.: Yeah, a little bit. Emmett Till came with a lot of accolades so a lot of people who didnít know who I was before, especially in the theatre world. The Houston Chronicle recognized me as one of the best actors for that role. The Ensemble Theatre gave me an award for best lead actor for the season.
Theresa: Itís life-changing.
Joe P.: Right now people see me out and they yell out ďEmmett Till!Ē so thatís definitely something to get used to. ďEmmett Till!Ē Especially the kids they would come and all that. Itís definitely a night and day difference but Iíve been trying to keep working to keep it going. Weíre hoping right now because we sent it in to do the National Black Theatre Arts Festival in Winston Salem, North Carolina so right now, itís looking pretty good that we might be doing it again.
Theresa: Thatís exciting.
Joe P.: Weíre crossing our fingers right now and hoping that good news comes real soon.
Theresa: You were brilliant. So what happened after Emmett Till? Opportunities came such as being the Assistant Director at the Alley Theatre for The Mountaintop.
Joe P.: I got the Alley opportunity and then I got into the show that Iím currently doing now Broke-ology. Itís giving me the chance to get back onstage. Iíve also been teaching a lot more. I teach at the Alley also, we started a poetry program up there which started about 3 years ago. I go in the High School and work with kids and get them to write poems and perform poems, work on their performance skills and then we have a big slam at the Alley at the end of the semester. The one we had this year was team-palooza: we had a poetry slam competition and we had ten-minute plays written by the students. And it worked out great. The last big event we just did, we had a packed house of about 350+ people at the Neuhaus stage at the Alley. Then I went directly into this.
Theresa: Whatís the experience like at the Alley?
Joe P.: The experience value is great. They welcome me with open arms. I started out just as a teaching artist there and from there I was maneuvering my way through my skills and my work ethic. The kids seem to love me, how I work with the kids up there. This position has gotten me a different opportunity. The opportunity they entrust me, they give me a bigger one. They gave me the job as Assistant Director working right under the director Robert OíHara who came down from New York. And that was a great experience within itself.
Theresa: The director Robert OíHara?
Joe P.: Yeah, heís a playwright out of New York from Columbia. He directed The Mountaintop for the Alley Theatre but he is a playwright.
Theresa: Was that awesome?
Joe P.: It was actually a great experience especially working with him. Robert was a great director. And the way he put The Mountaintop together was real nice, real nice.
"I'm stuck! Just like Pops got stuck with this illness. Just like you got stuck with your life." Malcom King played by JoeP tells his brother Ennis King portrayed by L. D. Green in BROKE-OLOGY. Written by Nathan Louis Jackson and directed by Eileen J. Morris, BROKE-OLOGY is showing through April 14, 2013 at the Ensemble Theatre located at 3535 Main Street, Houston Texas 77002 USA. For more information, click on www.EnsembleHouston.com
Theresa: Tell us about the part that youíre playing tonight.
Joe P.: The part that Iím currently playing is Malcom King in the play Broke-ology. Heís the youngest of the boys in this show and a college student. Heís not too young. Iím like 26-type young but the younger of the two sons. College student, I just got my Masters and I returned home and Iím deciding now if I want to go back where I graduated from U-Conn or if I need to stay home. Thatís part of what the story is about. We also deal with other things that all families deal with like dealing with a sick father and on whether I need to go back and make more money to help him out or should I be more hands-on and stay by his side.
Theresa: In the play Broke-ology you have an older brother.
Joe P.: My older brother is Ennis.
Theresa: Is it a comedy?
Joe P.: No, Iíd say more of a real life contemporary play with comedic moments. But it deals with a real situation when you come down to the middle of it. Iíd say it has many funny moments within it but it has real serious undertone to the whole play.
Theresa: What kind of preparation did you have to do for this role?
Joe P.: I asked Eileen (Morris) earlier in the process if it would be okay if I wear glasses for this character. I started working with those early, getting used to it. Itís more of a different look for me because usually I get to do the comedic roles around here. My character in this role is a more serious one. Iím not the one that has all the funny parts. I like it Ďcause I like challenges. I donít like doing the same thing over and over again.
Theresa: When you found out about this particular play Broke-ology, what was that like?
Joe P.: I was excited. This is one of the ones I initially set out because the Ensemble Theatre does the same way as the Alley Theatre, you audition for every show. So this is one of the shows that I really wanted to do, it doesnít matter which role because I like both roles as far the brothers go. I was very excited. And I like working with Eileen (Morris, director of Broke-ology).
Theresa: Of all the people that you worked with, who are the ones that you admire the most?
Joe P.: Robert OíHara he was great working with. Eileen J. Morris has always been great, Elizabeth Van Dyke who directed Emmett Till. I worked with Patdro Harris this past summer when I did Sanctified so that was my first musical.
Theresa: Did you sing?
Joe P.: Yeah, I sang. That was great (laughs).
Theresa: (laughs) thatís hard to do!
Joe P.: Yeah it is. I have a whole new respect for people who do musicals. I told them after that, I bow down. In this world, itís a whole different caliber.
Theresa: Who are your most favorite actors?
Joe P.: I like Wayne DeHart. Heís one of my favorites to work with. Plus I grew up watching him. Just to be able to work with him now. I like Henry Edwards. My best friend KB (Kendrick Brown) who is stage manager for this show but he was at Emmett Till with me too. I love working with him. We do a lot of things together.
Theresa: What about movie actors, who would you want to work with?
Joe P.: Right about now Denzel (Washington), Don Cheadle, Jeffrey Wright, Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Ethan Hawke
Theresa: What qualities do you look for in an actor?
Joe P.: Great presence, if theyíre doing a movie just great realness, great real life. If theyíre doing stage, great stage presence. Being able to command a stage and command the crowd and be able to bring real life emotionally. And not just seem like youíre acting. Whenever an actor or artist can bring forth true emotion and make people actually relate to that actual emotion. Then, theyíre one of the best. Thatís what I look for the ones that actually truly bring to life with emotion and not just get up onstage and speak well. Because a lot of people can speak well and maneuver their way through but to actually get up there. Iím talking about the woman thatís had an abortion anybody out there through the crowd whoís going through that should be able to relate.
Theresa: What would you like to say to the Houston-theatre going audience?
Joe P.: Thank you for the interview. Thank you for all the support. Please just keep up with me. I will try to keep working. Check me out at www.iamjoep.com for anything else you want to find out about me and anything else I got going. Thank you!
"She remains a memory." William King played by Broderick "Brod J" Jones and Sonia King portrayed by Autumn Knight in BROKE-OLOGY. Written by Nathan Louis Jackson and directed by Eileen J. Morris, BROKE-OLOGY is showing through April 14, 2013 at the Ensemble Theatre located at 3535 Main Street, Houston Texas 77002 USA. For more information, click on www.EnsembleHouston.com
Also in the cast of BROKE-OLOGY is Autumn Knight who plays the role of Sonia King. Born and raised in Houston, Texas Autumn is a Houston-based artist / actor / educator. Acting work includes international performances with New Yorkís Elevator Repair Service (Vienna, Amsterdam) and Alley Theatre (Houston). She is a graduate of Dillard University (B. A.) and NYU (M. A.)
Theresa: Upon my research, I saw that you did a performance for Project Row Houses. How long have you been a performance artist?
Autumn: Just a handful of years.
Theresa: How did you get into that?
Autumn: Well Iíve always loved visual arts and I have a theatre background. I think once I became more knowledgeable about performance art and just other types of visual arts, different strains, genres then I sort of said ďHey, I want to do that.Ē
Theresa: Are there particular performance artists who inspire you?
Autumn: I guess that the first few that I came across: Adrian Piper, William Pope.L, Irina Branovic there are a few others but those are the first ones that stood out to me.
Theresa: Exactly, what do you do?
Autumn: As a performance artist I do a little bit of everything. I do movement, I do text, things Iíve written; I do things that I improvise. I do installation. I do social practice.
Theresa: Whatís that?
Autumn: Social practice is more, sort of engaging an audience outside of the walls of the performance space, kind of conducting social experiments.
Theresa: That is very inspiring and creative. Do you create all this? Do you make all this up?
Autumn: Yes, I make it up. Obviously, itís pulling from a bunch of different sources.
Theresa: How do you make it up?
Autumn: Well Iíll say for example, one performance I did. I know you probably know I finished the thing for Project Row Houses. One of the performances was Hands In Your Lap and I basically got the idea for that one from touring in public schools during theatre and noticing the teachers and how they sort of perform. And how it looked sort of looked like warden, you know?
Autumn: Like prison wardens. The way they kind of treated the kids were sort of, in some ways like they didnít deserve to see a performance. Like getting them ready for it, it kind of scared them, like kind of threatened. Weíll tell them to leave if you donít behave. I mean, it was just weird. It was just really, really weird. And it was so larger than life the way they put on. ĎCause you could tell as an adult, I could tell if the performance they did for the children, you know, get them in line to hear what they were saying. So, I re-created that. So the audience with students, the whole, everybody who came to the performance they were automatically turned into a student.
Theresa: So, youíre inspired by the TV show Scared Straight?
Autumn: Yeah, I would say, I would take those ideas. But not have the audience experience basically have them see what I experience. Yeah, I have watched Scared Straight. I donít know if I necessarily agree with those methods, you know? I donít know.
Theresa: But you put that onstage.
Autumn: Well, it was inter-active, audience interaction. So I play the part of the teacher. It wasnít necessarily them watching me. They had to participate as students so I gave them a number instead of a name. Sort of like a prisoner. You know, in public schools kids wear badges so I try to re-create that environment.
Theresa: Thatís so incredibly creative! I donít know anyone who does thatÖ.
Autumn: Yeah (laughs).
Theresa: Tell us about the part that youíre playing in BROKE-OLOGY.
Autumn: The part is Sonia, sheís the wife. Sonia King. She is a wife and a mother. And in the play, she appears as a ghost or a figment of his imagination so how he remembers her when she was alive.
Theresa: Oh wow. She appears as a figment of the fatherís imagination? So, sheís not alive.
Autumn: In the first scene, she is alive but itís a memory of her being alive. And in the second scene, heís remembering her. In essence, sheís not really, not really.
Theresa:Ö..alive in the play. Sheís a memory.
Autumn: In a way, yeah. I would say. Sheís real but sheís a memory. Itís clear in the second scene, sheís a ghost.
Theresa: So, sheís part of the play, she makes comments but sheís passed away. When did you know you were going to play this part?
Autumn: Oh, a long time ago, like in August.
Theresa: What was it like to know that you got the part?
Autumn: I was excited because itís a contemporary play.
Theresa: What were the plays youíve done at the Ensemble Theatre?
Autumn: Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turnerís Come and Gone that was a few years ago and in this season I was in The Nacirema Society.
Theresa: What kind of preparation did you have to do for this role?
Autumn: I donít know if thereís anything, I would say I sort of looked at clips of the Broadway version and read about it a little bit. Itís a smaller role.
Theresa: Is there a lot of memorization?
Autumn: Yeah, I have a couple of scenes, thereís memorization. I think that this character. You know more about her from the things that are said about her in between her scenes.
Theresa: How long have you been with the Ensemble Theatre? And what is the experience like, to be part of the Ensemble Theatre?
Autumn: Iíve only been with them for like 3 different seasons. I feel like itís a very family-like environment.
Theresa: Which do you prefer: Acting or Performance Art? Are you geared towards more of something that you created yourself?
Autumn: I think I am geared towards things that I create myself. I mean, thatís a new thing for me. And I like it. I really, really like it. I like theatre too. Itís a different kind of process because youíre working with the director. Itís that kind of thing. But you work on something that you created on your own you can be the director too. I kind of like the theatre process of the rehearsal. I also like something that I created that I can change any time I want.
Theresa: Have you directed?
Autumn: I have directed once or twice. I havenít directed a whole lot. I wouldnít mind it. I wouldnít mind it because I feel like you can really, really express a bunch of different things as a director. You have a lot more control over the product. Not complete control but you have a little bit more control of the vision.
Theresa: I can see you as a very successful director.
Theresa: What would be the most inspiring work that youíve seen to date?
Autumn: Iíll say this and itís available on Netflix. PINA, itís a documentary about this dance choreographer. She passed away and her company, they re-created her works on film. The way the film was made, it really brings her art work to life, her dance choreography. Itís so dramatic. Itís almost like, you know the filmmaker basically created steps for the different pieces and itís almost like you could put words on top of it. The dance is so expressive. It makes me: I donít want to turn away because I canít wait to see whatís next.
Theresa: What qualities do you look for in a director or an actor?
Autumn: I want to forget my life. I want to not turn away. I want to not think about anything else. And I think thatís the essence of......when I teach kids, I try to tell them that the thing about artists is when youíre really good or successful is when you lose yourself. Not successful like making money, but as an art thing, an art gesture or attempt. You lose yourself. I can forget about my own life for a second. Which is really, really hard to do the more stressed we are.
Theresa: What would you like to say to the Houston Theatre going audience about this play BROKE-OLOGY?
Autumn: I would say, come see it. The Ensemble, like most places are not contemporary. This season the Ensemble Theatre happens to have two contemporary plays, this one (Broke-ology) and Race. So, come see it. The playwright is young. So thereís a lot of energy. Itís a very universal topic.
Theresa: Final question, what kind of message do you want to say to the Houston Theatre going audience in general?
Autumn: Push your theatres to do more, for more challenging work. So the audiences can grow in sophistication.
The Ensemble Theatre Presents Broke-ology by Nathan Louis Jackson
HOUSTON, February 13, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --
The Ensemble Theatre tackles the issue of adult children caring for their aging parent in Broke-ology, by Nathan Louis Jackson and directed by Ensemble Theatre Artistic Director Eileen J. Morris.
In accordance with Broke-ology Ė the science of being broke - the King family has learned to balance sacrifice and let love keep them together. Set in a beleaguered Kansas City neighborhood, two grown brothers try to balance the challenges of their own lives with their desire to care for their ailing father. Even as they remember simpler times, tension builds between the brothers as their conflicting interests churn into a surprising outcome. Broke-ology is a warm and wrenching play about a loving African-American family facing its troubles with humor, resiliency, and grace.
Featured cast members include: Autumn Knight, Joseph "Joe P" Palmore, L.D. Green, Broderick "Brod J" Jones.
This performance is recommended for mature audiences due to adult language and profanity.
Previews: Saturday, March 16, 2013: 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 17, 2013: 3:00 p.m.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013: 7:30 p.m.
Show Run: March 21 Ė April 14, 2013
Thursdays: 7:30 p.m.
Fridays: 8:00 p.m.
Saturdays: 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Sundays: 3:00 p.m.
****Opening Night and Media Reception is Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.***
The Ensemble Theatre
3535 Main St.
Houston, TX 77002
The Ensemble Theatre's 2012-2013 Season is sponsored in part by grants from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance and Texas Commission on the Arts. United Airlines is the exclusive airline sponsor for The Ensemble Theatre. This production is generously supported by National Oilwell Varco.
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. Thirty-six years later, the theatre has evolved from a touring company operating from the trunk of Mr. Hawkins' car to being one of Houston's finest historical cultural institutions. The Ensemble is one of a few professional theatres in the region dedicated to the production of works portraying the African American experience. The oldest and largest professional African American theatre in the Southwest, it holds the distinction of being one of the nation's largest African American theatres owning and operating its facility and producing in-house. 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 has fulfilled and surpassed the vision of its founder and continues to expand and create innovative programs to bring African American theatre to myriad audiences.