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Ensemble Theatre Records

Identifier: MS 0533
Finding aid note: Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via or call 713-348-2586.

Scope and Contents

The Ensemble Theatre Records incorporate the history of the general operation of the theater, including fundraising, advertising, and administrative Board records.


  • Creation: 1983-2008


Access Restrictions

This material is open for research.

Conditions Governing Access

Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via or call 713-348-2586.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish from The Ensemble Theatre Records must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Rice University.


By the time George Hawkins (1947-1991), founded the Black Ensemble Company in 1976, he already had eleven years of professional theater experience. He was an accomplished stage director as well as a stage and film actor. Hawkins graduated from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio and Prairie View A and M College in Prairie View, Texas. He furthered his professional training at Beale Street Repertory Theater in Memphis, Tennessee and New Freedom Theater in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which included a year of study in London, England. He was the driving force behind The Ensemble Theatre until his death July 25, 1990 in Houston. Biography excerpted from A History of the Ensemble Theatre and its productions 1976-1999, a Master's thesis by Sharon Gray, University of Houston. A copy of this thesis is located in Box 3, folder 17.

Organizational Sketch

In November of 1976, Houstonian George Hawkins founded The Black Ensemble Company, Houston's first African American professional theater, to provide a venue for Houston's talented Black actors, writers and artists to perform. When his company moved into its first home at 1010 Tuam Street in Houston, Hawkins dropped the word Black from the name, becoming simply The Ensemble. The first production performed at the new site was Surprise, Surprise...A Love Story, written and directed by Hawkins. In 1985, George Hawkins and his theater supporters rented a building at 3535 Main Street, Houston, and converted it into a theater. After Hawkin's death in 1991, Eileen Morris became the artistic director and devoted her life to keeping Hawkin's dream alive. In 1993, the group, now known as The Ensemble Theatre, began a fundraising campaign to purchase the building theyhad occupied for eight years at 3535 Main Street and renovate it. This venue became the largest African American theater in the United States and was the site of many "firsts" in the history of African American professional theater. In 2004, the Ensemble Theatre reached two milestones; becoming a designated stop on the new Houston Metrorail system, and the fulfillment of the mortgage on the building, celebrated by a Mortagage Burning Ceremony on January 1, 2004.


8 Linear Feet ( (15 boxes))

Language of Materials



This collection contains fifteen boxes of material related to the operation of The Ensemble Theatre in Houston, Texas, including General Records, Administration Records and Financial Records.

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Mrs. Audrey H. Lawson March 1, 2008.


Future additions may be expected for this material.

Guide to the Ensemble Theatre Records, 1983-2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas Repository

Fondren Library MS-44, Rice University
6100 Main St.
Houston Texas 77005 USA