updated 3/14/2011 11:24:35 AM ET 2011-03-14T15:24:35

HOUSTON, March 14, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Ensemble Theatre presents August Wilson's 'Jitney', with Opening Night and media reception, Thursday, March 31, 2011, 6:30pm.

"I'm excited about directing 'Jitney,'" says Eileen J. Morris, The Ensemble Theatre Artistic Director. "I have had the honor of directing seven of the ten play cycle of productions, a rare achievement among female directors."

Set in 1977, Jitney tells the story of a group of men in Pittsburgh's Hill District who drive unlicensed "gypsy" cabs that for years have served as a vital means of transportation for the working class in Pittsburgh and other urban centers. The men must ban together in their struggle to earn a living (and respect) as urban redevelopment threatens their livelihood with demolition. They struggle to overcome their personal conflicts in order to foster a sense of solidarity against a backdrop of diminishing opportunities.

"This play shows ritual in an enriched community taking us on a ride that engages our sensibility through the dynamics of the human spirit and its relationships," says Morris.

'Jitney' is the eighth installment in Wilson's Pittsburgh 10, a collection of ten stage plays depicting the African American experience through the twentieth century. All but one of the plays is based in the Pittsburgh Hill District where he was raised. Wilson is a nationally recognized playwright who has received two Pulitzer Prize Awards for his work.

"I was fortunate enough to have shared a conversation with the late August Wilson on several occasions," says Morris. "One of the things I remember the most is when he told me all the characters in his plays have a resilience that helps them survive in combat."

Previews: March 26, 27, and 30      Show Run: March 26-April 24, 2011    

Performances: Thursdays: 7:30 p.m; Fridays: 8:00 p.m; Saturdays: 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m; and Sundays: 3:00 p.m.

Featured cast members include:  Wayne DeHart, Timothy Eric Dickson, Henry Edwards, Troy Hogan, Byron Jacquet, Broderick Jones, Jordyn Lorenz, Joseph Palmore, and Lee Stansberry.

For tickets and seating availability call: 713-520-0055 or visit:  www.ensemblehouston.com

The Ensemble Theatre's 2010-2011 Season is sponsored in part by grants from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance and Texas Commission on the Arts. Continental Airlines is the exclusive airline sponsor for The Ensemble Theatre. This production is generously underwritten by Chevron.

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. The theatre is known as the only professional theatre in its region dedicated to the production of works portraying the African American experience. In addition to being the oldest and largest professional African American theatre in the Southwest, it also holds the distinction of being one of the nation's largest African American theatres that owns and operates its facility with an in-house production team. Board President Emeritus Audrey Lawson led the capital campaign for The Ensemble's $4.5 million building renovations that concluded in 1997.

CONTACT: Robert Ross
         (713) 807-4306
         rross@ensemblehouston.com

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