Houston theatre rewarded for empowering women, hiring more of them

- The Ensemble Theatre already has a female executive director and artistic director. The theater will also be able to empower even more women. How?

The #MeToo movement has highlighted the problem of predators using their power to harass and abuse. In fact, Greg Boyd retired as Alley Theatre artistic director amid allegations he abused employees for years. Some people say the solution is to empower more women and level the playing field. That’s exactly what a non-profit group is hoping to do with a pretty hefty gift, which is being presented to The Ensemble Theatre.            

A philanthropic non-profit group in New York is giving away $1.25 million to five theaters throughout the U.S. that have female artistic directors. Artistic director Eileen J. Morris is the only African American receiving the award.

“Oh my gosh,  it's amazing,” says Morris with a smile. She also says the quarter of a million-dollar gift will be used to promote and employ even more women.  

“I don't want to say it's a man's world, but I would say the opportunities for women are not as strong," adds Morris. "We'll be hiring more female designers and directors. We will also be giving an opportunity to have a female artistic associate. She will be someone we can mentor so she can also become artistic director someday.”

“It really is a different perspective the way women see things and frame things,” explains Janette Cosley, The Ensemble Theatre executive director.

The Ensemble Theatre is now running "Fetch Clay, Make Man" until Feb. 25. It’s a show based on the life of Muhammad Ali. 

”This is what Muhammad had to do all the time," says Morris with a laugh as she jabs the punching bag on the production set. "I would never be able to do this.”

Today, it’s a punching bag. Tomorrow, Morris hopes it's inequality among women that's knocked out for good.

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