THE ENSEMBLE THEATRE
www.ensemblehouston.com
 


Artistic Director of The Ensemble Theatre EILEEN J. MORRIS

Presents

RACE

By David Mamet

Directed by Eileen J. Morris

May 9 - June 2, 2013

 

 


(L-R)  Kevin Daugherty, Joy Brunson, Justin Doran and Mirron Willis star in RACE.  Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet and directed by Artistic Director Eileen J. Morris, RACE is showing through June 2nd, 2013 at the Ensemble Theatre located at 3535 Main Street, Houston Texas 77002 USA.  For more information, click on www.EnsembleHouston.com

 

The Ensemble Theatre Presents 'Race' by David Mamet
A Law Office Finds a Case of Sexual Violence and Race Can Not be Decided on Facts Alone

 

HOUSTON, April 29, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Ensemble Theatre explores prejudice and deception in Race by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright David Mamet, and directed by Eileen J. Morris.

Opening on May 9th, RACE runs through June 2nd, 2013.

"When comparing race with sex, the truth can never be revealed about the two things," says Mamet.

A high-profile wealthy white businessman is accused of raping a black woman. He seeks counsel from a law firm with an African American partner. The lawyers give their potential client, who claims the sex was consensual, a reality check on the conspiracies of the American legal system, the media, and most of all, Race. But not everything is black and white Ė or is it?

"The attorneys in this play, like many of us, have been taught what to say to appear as though they don't internally use race as a means for passing judgment on others," says Morris. "We can all relate to the human conditions of shame and guilt against our internal struggle with race."

Featured cast members debuting on The Ensemble Theatre stage include: equity actors Mirron Willis, who first debuted with The Ensemble in Knock Me A Kiss, and Justin Doran. They will be joined by two newcomers: equity actress Joy Brunson and Kevin Daugherty.

This production is recommended for mature audiences due to adult language and profanity.

Previews: May 4, 5, and 8 Show Runs: May 9 Ė June 2, 2013

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: www.EnsembleHouston.com For Information Call: 713-520-0055
Ticket Prices: $12 - $35

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 and the National Endowment for the Arts. United Airlines is the exclusive airline sponsor for The Ensemble Theatre. This production is generously sponsored by The Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts.

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 small touring company to 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.

 


Mirron Willis (center) stars with Kevin Daugherty and Joy Brunson in RACE.  Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet and directed by Artistic Director Eileen J. Morris, RACE is showing through June 2nd, 2013 at the Ensemble Theatre located at 3535 Main Street, Houston Texas 77002 USA.  For more information, click on www.EnsembleHouston.com

 

A PLAY BY DAVID MAMET

Interview with Mirron Willis for the play RACE at the Ensemble Theatre

 

By Theresa Pisula
May 9, 2013
Houston, Texas
Theresa@HoustonTheatre.com

 

For the balmy Houston evening of Thursday May 9th, 2013 I had the good fortune of being invited to two theatre events.  Being confronted with this delicious dilemma, my choice was crystal clear.  Back in the 80ís I was riveted and entranced by the movie Glengarry Glen Ross.  I was driven to get the first VHS tape or DVD (I canít remember which technology back then) copy of this movie for my own personal viewing pleasure.  Ever since then, I have been a huge fan of David Mametís work.  So, regardless of whether I was given the choice of either a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical or a George Balanchine ballet or a Wagner opera, I will always opt for David Mamet.  No matter where heís playing.

 

During the course of the eveningís event which included a wine and hor díoeuvres reception at the Ensemble Theatre, a couple of people expressed appreciation for my obvious selection.  Specifically they were Public Relations manager Robert Ross and Executive Director Janette L. Cosley who thanked me for choosing the Ensemble theatre that evening.  However I couldnít help but ponder to myself, ďReally, you should thank David Mamet.Ē

 

Right off the bat, in the first few lines of the play as a matter of fact, O. J. Simpsonís name is mentioned.  Never mind the fact that O. J. was acquitted for allegedly stabbing his ex-wife and her lover to death in 1995.  But if youíre going to write a play about RACE, you better talk about the major issues of this generation.  In my opinion, Oscar Pistoriusí legal case in Johannesburg, South Africa for the shooting death of his girlfriend is one of the few litigation lawsuits these days that comes close to the OJ Simpson trial in scope and range of bizarre behavior. 

 

And with RACE, a play written by David Mamet which premiered on Broadway in 2009, the man does not disappoint.  The fast pace is furious, blunt and the language is brutal, edgy and intelligent.  David Mamet does not mess around the subject like children tiptoeing amongst garden flowers on a jolly spring day.  He goes straight for the jugular.  And the recipe is peppered with the f-word, just like we speak today.  So it was only fitting that I interview one of the major characters in the play, Attorney Henry Brown portrayed by Mirron Willis.  The interview took place right before the play was about to start.

 

Mirron Willis recently performed in The Ensemble Theatreís production of Knock Me A Kiss.  He spent three seasons at the world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland, OR) performing in Wild Oats, Daughters of the Revolution, Twelfth Night, The Belleís Stratagem, Much Ado About Nothing, Henry VI Parts 2&3 and A Raisin in the Sun.  Other Theatre credits include the Drama Logue award winning Sidney Bechet Killed A Man (South Coast Repertory Theatre in Costa Mesa, CA) and Three Sisters After Chekov (Lower Depths Theatre Ensemble Los Angeles, CA).  Mirron has narrated over 100 projects across the audiobook genre spectrum.  Recent recordings include My Song: A Memoir by Harry Belafonte; The Long Fall, Known to Evil, When the Thrill is Gone, All I Did Was Shoot My Man, Walking the Dog, and others by Walter Mosley; and Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Dubois.  He has garnered Audiofile Magazineís coveted Earphone Awards for Excellence for Elijah of Buxton (also 2009 Odyssey Honor), The Translator, Sag Harbor, Magic Street, King of Ragtime (2009 Best Voices), The Long Fall (BookList, Best of 2009).  A 2011 Audie Award Nomination for Williams Leap to Freedom, and Audie Winner: Best Cast Recording for A Raisin in the Sun.  Television and film credits include guest appearances on Private Practice (ABC), The Exes (TV Land), Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (CBS), Monk, The Parkers, Beverly Hills 90210, E. R., Star Trek: The Next Generation and Voyager, Living Single, Martin, Seinfeld, Cheers and Independence Day.  Mirron is a proud alumnus of Prairie View A&M University and New York University Tisch School of the Arts.

 

Theresa:  Your list of movie and TV appearances is pretty impressive:  Star Trek, The Next Generation, E. R., Beverly Hills 90210, Living Single, Seinfeld, Knots Landing, Melrose Place, Cheers.  You were in Independence Day, the movie.

Mirron:  Itís been a great journey.

Theresa:  You do a lot of work in big-time Hollywood.  How did you end up here in little olí Houston?

Mirron:  Not so little, Houstonís pretty big and so far pretty fabulous.  You know, I was riding my bike around the city yesterday.  I bike to the theatre everyday....... 

Theresa:  Why?  We have the Metro bus, taxicabs, carsÖÖ

Mirron:  And a beautiful skyline and great restaurants.  When this play opens, Iím looking forward to doing the whole museum district tour.  There are other theatres that I have yet to explore.  So Iím in an adventure on a whole new arena.  So, Iím actually kind of excited.

Theresa:  Itís rainy a little bit today.

Mirron:  The weatherís not bad.  Weatherís okay, Iím waiting for that summer to hit.

 

Theresa:  Tell us about the part that youíre playingÖ..

Mirron:  Henry Brown in Race is a criminal defense attorney.  He is in partnership with Lawson and Brown.  Jack Lawson is my partner.  Weíre trying to figure out if weíre going to take a high-profile rape case.  It deals with a billionaire, so to speak, and the raping of a black woman in a hotel room.

Theresa:  Wow, that same situation was just in the news recently.  David Mamet is just amazing.

Mirron:  Yeah.

Theresa:  Are you originally from Houston?

Mirron:  No, I was born in Maryland.  My family moved to Texas when I was 12.  My father passed in Maryland and we moved to Texarkana, Texas.  I went to high school there and went to Prairie View A&M University for college.  I got an acting scholarship to go to New York University School of the Arts.  That got me to New York.  So I did New York for a couple of years.  Then circumstances got me to Los Angeles in 1990 and Iíve been there ever since.  And then my mother happened to move back to our old family residence which has been in our family since slavery since 1886.

Theresa:  Texarkana?

Mirron:  No, in Crockett, Texas actually.  When I left Texas she decided to revitalize our old family ranch.  Thatís where she lives now.  So I decided well, this is the time for me to come back and support her.  And see if I can find another artistic mission here in the South.

Theresa:  And your mother is?

Mirron:  Doctor Edwardlene Willis from Crockett, Texas.  Sheís actually coming in tonight to see the opening of the show.  Thatís really great.  I feel very fortunate and honored.

Theresa:  Of all the 30 plus movies and TV shows youíve been in, which one is the most memorable?

Mirron:  Every single one of them has had a life experience attached.  So theyíre all extremely memorable.  So every time you do get a gig in Hollywood, there are a thousand others that you did not get.  That is a life experience an actor has to go through to be able to get to that one, or two or 35th job.  So absolutely, every single one has been a tremendous opportunity for me to grow as an artist and as a human being.

Theresa:  Of all of the actors that youíve worked with, which one would you say is the most memorable?

Mirron:  Anthony Hopkins.

Theresa:  Which movie?

Mirron:  Fracture.  That was memorable to meet Sir Anthony Hopkins on the set.  Because he was so genuine, he was so very nice.  And I was to have a rehearsal with him before we shot the next day.  Which is not too heard of, you know you donít get a chance to do that.  But he came into the rehearsal very amiable, ďHi Iím Tony.Ē  It was just very comfortable working with him.  To see him working, to see his process for the character as he was working the set, that was very memorable.

Theresa:  Youíve been in a lot of big movies and TV shows, what are the artistic differences of being on a smaller venue like local theatre?  We know the obvious difference between having been part of the Hollywood culture and starring in a local theatre play like the Ensemble Theatre.

Mirron:  Professional theatre, the Ensemble Theatre, there is a difference, quite a distinction.  I wouldnít be here unless it was a professional theatre company.  And being in the Ensemble Theatre has awakened me to a whole new artistic structure of community mission.  Using theatre and merging it with community and the needs of the community.  I think that is absolutely fantastic.  Itís quite an honor to be here.  Thatís 35 years!  Thatís a long time.  Iím just coming in to see if I canít fit in the wheel thatís already moving with this place.  Itís more than just a local theatre.  The Ensemble Theatre is a very special place.

Theresa:  That doesnít sound like youíre just visiting Houston. 

Mirron:  No, Iím in Texas now.  Iím a Texan.  I have a driverís license.  I had my car registered.  I have a license plate it says ďTexas, the Lone Star state.Ē  Yaíll got me!  Iím here.

Theresa:  (Laughs) and weíre lucky to have you.  I saw your performance here at the Ensemble Theatre in Knock Me A Kiss as the poet Countee Cullen.  And with this David Mamet play, itís going to make you shine.  Arenít there just a few characters in the play?

Mirron:  There are four of us.  Itís a quartet, only four of us.

Theresa:  I consider him one of the best playwrights, ever.

Mirron:  He is and to have the opportunity to work with him is an honor.  Especially for a person of color, doesnít really get an opportunity to do David Mametís work.  So there are a few plays by David Mamet and this is one of them.  To be able to have the opportunity to work on the language and to work on the synthesis between the actors because of the rapid pace of the language and the situation is a remarkable experience as a performer. 

Theresa:  What would you like the Houston audience to gain from watching this play?

Mirron:  Have a conversation.  You know, itís a different play than Knock Me A Kiss.  This play is really about dialogue.  Itís about honest dialogue and honest feelings about this topic of RACE.  Since you asked me, whatís the difference between Hollywood acting and the stage: the stage is the actorís medium.  It is the place where we could work our craft out.  And this play gives us the opportunity to utilize that.  So that the audience can take something away didactically, learn something hopefully.

Theresa:  What would you like to say to the Houston-theatre going audience?

Mirron:  Please come see RACE.  Are you kidding me?  You gotta come see the show!  I would love to be able to do my thing for you.  Absolutely, I would be honored to meet everybody in the Houston audience and to see if we can have a communication about Art.

 

 


Kevin Daugherty and Joy Brunson star in RACE.  Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet and directed by Artistic Director Eileen J. Morris, RACE is showing through June 2nd, 2013 at the Ensemble Theatre located at 3535 Main Street, Houston Texas 77002 USA.  For more information, click on www.EnsembleHouston.com

 

 

The Ensemble Theatre Presents 'Race' by David Mamet

Who/What:

The Ensemble Theatre explores prejudice and deception in Race by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright David Mamet. Directed by Eileen J. Morris, Race, will be the theatre's first presentation of a play by David Mamet.

"When comparing Race with sex, the truth can never be revealed about the two things." ~ David Mamet.

A high-profile wealthy white businessman is accused of raping a black woman. He seeks counsel from a law firm with an African American partner. The lawyers give their potential client, who claims the sex was consensual, a reality check on the conspiracies of the American legal system, the media, and most of all, Race. But not everything is black and white Ė or is it?

Featured cast members debuting on The Ensemble Theatre stage include: equity actors Mirron Willis, who first debuted with The Ensemble in Knock Me A Kiss, and Justin Doran. They will be joined by two newcomers: equity actress Joy Brunson and Kevin Daugherty.

This performance is recommended for mature audiences due to adult language and profanity.
 

When:

Show Run: May 8 Ė June 2, 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.


Where: The Ensemble Theatre
3535 Main St., Houston, TX 77002
713-520-0055
www.ensemblehouston.com

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 and the National Endowment for the Arts. United Airlines is the exclusive airline sponsor for The Ensemble Theatre. This production is generously sponsored by Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts.

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.