The Ensemble Theatre was founded in 1976 by the late George Hawkins to preserve African American artistic expression and enlighten, entertain and enrich a diverse community. Over thirty-five 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 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, and holds the distinction of being one of the nation’s largest African American theatres owning and operating its facility and producing in-house. 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 a myriad of audiences.
The programs and operations of The Ensemble Theatre benefit a multicultural audience that is diverse in age, income, ethnicity, and culture. Its core audience is African American (90%). The Ensemble produces a Mainstage Season of six contemporary and classical works devoted to the portrayal of the African American experience by local and national playwrights and artists. The Ensemble’s Performing Arts Education program provides educational workshops, artist-in-residence experiences, and live performances for students both off-site and at the theatre, and the Young Performers Program offers intensive spring and summer training for youth ages 6 to 17 encompassing instruction in all disciplines of the theatre arts. Through its varied programs, The Ensemble reaches over 60,000 people annually.