“The diversity of the performing arts in the city of Houston is like one of our well-known foods in Texas – gumbo,” says Eileen J. Morris, artistic director of Houston’s Ensemble Theatre, which for nearly 40 years has been sharing stories about the African-American experience with audiences. “It’s a roux filled with various ingredients that make the flavor unique and prominent.”
Indeed, artistic variety abounds across the Bayou City’s performing arts scene, taking in myriad stories, histories and cultures, leaving audiences all the richer for the experience.
Billing itself as “the inclusion theatre of Houston,” Dionysus Theatre uses the talents of performers with (and without) disabilities. Founder Deborah Nowinski says, “My passion is to have people with disabilities up on stage where they can create, connect and let their voices be heard.” Theatre Under The Stars’ The River Performing and Visual Arts Center provides singing, dancing and acting classes and workshops for children with disabilities. “This program is not just about the arts and not just about education; it is about building community,” says Bob Lawson, TUTS director of administration and education. “It is about making connections and encouraging exploration and discovery. It is about providing individuals and their families a place that is safe, familiar, fun and enriching.”
Sharing the voices of Christian faith has powered A.D. Players for nearly 50 years. Founder Jeannette Clift George has written several pieces for the group, many based on Bible passages and figures. Showcasing the works of Hispanic culture – everything from plays and comedy acts to lectures, movies and visual arts – Talento Bilingue de Houston is a thriving performing arts force in the city. Its center in the East End is a must-visit for any Houston arts lover.
Et Voilá Théâtre, a French-speaking theater troupe, mounts plays, workshops and exhibitions designed to promote and enrich Houston’s French culture scene. Works are performed in French, with English subtitles.
The Asia Society presents performing and visual arts throughout the year, offering Houston residents a glimpse at Asia’s and Asian-Americans’ dynamic culture.
Houstonians may be familiar with several of the city’s mainstage players – The Alley Theatre, Theatre Under The Stars, Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Symphony, Main Street Theater, Stages Repertory Theatre and the Houston Ballet among them – but multiple smaller groups abound. Mildred’s Umbrella presents plays designed to showcase female artists. Ars Lyrica brings beautiful baroque music to the stage. Houston’s colleges all have performing arts groups. Texas Southern University will soon be performing in the newly restored DeLuxe Theatre in the Fifth Ward.
With all that activity, there’s no reason your dance card can’t be filled every night with performances that highlight why Houston is one of the country’s most diverse cities.
By Holly Beretto