Jeff Stetson's THE MEETING to Open 1/30 at The Ensemble Theatre

The Ensemble Theatre kicks off the new year with the Opening Night and Media Reception for The Meeting by Jeff Stetson and directed by Shirley Marks Whitmore, Thursday, January 30, 2014, 6:30PM.

Stetson developed this play as an educational tool for students becoming further removed from the Civil Rights Movement.

"I was preparing to teach a university course on the Civil Rights Movement because I understood that students who were not alive during that struggle knew very little about the sacrifices made, as well as issues involved during that time period," says Stetson.

Whitmore emphasizes that real narratives are interwoven into the script.

"While this play may appear symbolic in its depiction of a hypothetical meeting between these two iconic men, it is important to know that real, factual words spoken by each has been woven into it," says Whitmore.

The Meeting is a fascinating and eloquent play that depicts the supposed meeting of two of the most important men of modern times: Malcolm X and DR. Martin Luther King, Jr. Differing in their philosophies, but alike in their mutual respect, the two men debate their varying approaches to the same grave social problems, both prepared to die for their beliefs but neither aware of how soon their assassins' bullets would await them.

"I'm honored to work with artists and crew who share a common enthusiasm for bringing this production to life with conviction, power, and insight," says Whitmore. "In fact, we'll all be looking forward to the dialogue we intend to have with the audience after each show to observe the cross-generational views of these civil rights philosophies."

Featured cast members include: Jason Carmichael (Martin Luther King, Jr.) last seen as "Jimmy Lunsford" in Knock Me A Kiss and "Deacon" in Sanctified; Mirron Willis (Malcolm X), who recently performed as "Henry Brown" in Race, and made his debut on The Ensemble Theatre stage as "Countee Cullen" in Knock Me A Kiss; and Derrick Brent II (Rashad) who last played "Bobby Green" in The Nacirema Society.

Jeff Stetson is an internationally acclaimed award-winning playwright and screenwriter for film and television. His stage plays include: "Keep the Faith: A musical on the life and times of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr." (Commissioned through grant by the PEW Foundation and Theater Communications Group); "Fathers and Other Strangers," (recipient of Columbia College's Theodore Ward Award); "Fraternity," (winner Seattle Group Theater's Multi-Cultural Festival); "And the Men Shall Also Gather," (developed at the O'Neill National Conference under the direction of Lloyd Richards); "To Play a Black Man;" (nominated for four Image Awards); "Love You Better," (Commissioned by the Kennedy Center); "The Apology," (Commissioned by Bill Cosby).

The Meeting, has been produced in all fifty states and more than a dozen countries including South Africa, the Netherlands, Canada, the Virgin Islands, Nigeria, Scotland, United Kingdom, Brazil, Jordan and Austria. It received eight N.A.A.C.P. Image Awards, including best play and best writer, a Louis B. Mayer Award and an Ohio State Achievement Award. He adapted the play for P.B.S. and American Playhouse, where it received an Emmy award for technical achievement.

Actress, writer, and director Shirley Marks Whitmore is an avid genealogical researcher, and has worked as an artist in the Houston area for many years. Whitmore has received critical recognition for her performances in many Ensemble Theatre productions including American Menu, Blue, Waiting to Be Invited, Day Trips, Before It Hits Home, The River Niger, Distant Voices, Shakin' the Mess Outta Misery and many more. Shirley with husband Clarence Whitmore, produce and direct Dancin' in the Street...Motown & More Revue annually at Miller Outdoor Theatre. She has also directed the works of Houston playwrights Celeste Bedford Walker, Thomas Meloncon and Larry Hunter.

The Ensemble Theatre's 2013-2014 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 exclusive 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 to enlighten, entertain, and enrich a diverse community. Thirty-seven 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.




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