Allie Woods, who appeared in the Seattle premiere of Gem of the Ocean under the direction of Phylicia Rashad, will stage the Houston production, which officially opens Jan. 31. The cast will feature Wayne DeHart, Timothy Eric Dickson, Autumn Knight, BeBe Wilson, Troy Hogan, Byron Jacquet and John Williams Stevens.
In a statement director Woods said, "As director/custodian and as an actor in some six of Wilson's plays, I stood on the sets and stages of his worlds and realized that I moved in the midst of historical, epic, corridors to themes and times which reflect the essential mission of black theatre, to reveal, revere and perhaps repair the souls of black folks..."
Gem of the Ocean marks the ninth play in the late Wilson's 10-play cycle chronicling the African-American experience through each decade of the 1900s. The cycle concluded with the 2007 production of Radio Golf.
Set in 1904, Gem of the Ocean "begins on the eve of the 285th birthday of Aunt Ester (a recurring character in Wilson’s play cycle). Citizen Barlow, a man who is in spiritual turmoil, arrives at Aunt Ester's house in Pittsburgh's Hill District and is soon set off on a spiritual journey to find the mythic City of Bones, leading him to startling discoveries and setting him on a course of duty and redemption."
For tickets phone (713) 520-0055. Further information is available by visiting www.ensemblehouston.com. *
Founded in 1976 by the late George Hawkins to preserve African American artistic expression and enlighten, entertain and enrich a diverse community, Houston's Ensemble Theatre is one of the only 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.