City of Good Abode
Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Martin Luther King, Jr., ASSASSINATED! Words that shocked a nation in April 1968.  Now, through a world premiere co-presentation of the award-winning play, City of Good Abode (CGA), Houston audiences can revisit the historic strike by Memphis sanitation workers that led to King’s death. Playwright Joshua Ford’s recounting of the back story to this confrontation also explores the relationship between America’s African American community and the nation’s Jewry, many of whom stood in solidarity with their black “brethren” while others’ support was less enthusiastic. This co-production by the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center (the J) and The Ensemble Theatre of City of Good Abode will be presented at the J’s Kaplan Theatre in an exclusive, limited run of four performances, September 12-15, 2019.

City of Good Abode’s examination of Blacks’, Jews’ and others’ involvement in the story make it a natural fit for this first-ever collaboration between The Ensemble Theatre and the J.  Said Eileen Morris, Artistic Director of The Ensemble Theatre, “City of Good Abode is a perfect fit for two cultural institutions that strive to eradicate racism and tell stories that are representative of their culture while enlightening, entertaining and enriching a diverse community. The play highlights human dynamics and personal journeys that took place during the civil rights movement.”  

A side note of interest is that CGA comes to Houston audiences through another collaborative endeavor – the Jewish Plays Project (JPP). Through this project, several communities around the country, including Houston, join in reading and selecting the best new play of Jewish interest each year, as determined by the JPP’s annual New Play Contest.

As a feature of its involvement in JPP, the J invites leaders from the city’s theater community to join its team of readers/evaluators so that Houston’s voice in the national conversation on new directions in Jewish theatre is as informed and inclusive as possible. For the last two years, Eileen Morris, Artistic Director of The Ensemble Theatre, has been a member of the J’s Reader/Evaluator Teams, so when City of Good Abode (CGA) was named winner of the JPP’s New Plays Contest in 2017, it seemed a natural fit for The Ensemble Theatre and Theatre at the J to begin talks about partnering to bring CGA to Houston audiences. Now that partnership has become a reality. “We are thrilled to be partnering with The Ensemble Theatre to present the premiere of City of Good Abode. This play is such a fitting collaboration for our organizations and we’re so excited to bring it to Houston audiences,” said Amy Rahmani, Director of Arts & Culture at the J.

The JPP is also pleased with this partnership. Says David Winistky, president of the Jewish Plays Project, “I was thrilled to hear about the co-production of City of Good Abode in Houston this fall. This is a vital new work, and I can't think of a better team of organizations to bring it to the stage.”

The production is being directed by Rachel Hemphill Dickson, BOLD Artistic Associate of The Ensemble Theatre, with a talented cast featuring Houston actors Curtis Burrell, Mark Mendelsohn, Liz Rachelle, Lydia Meadows, Derrick Brent, Jessica Thompson, Carl Masterson and Aaron Ruiz.

The production opens with a 7:30 p.m. performance on Thursday, September 12.  Following performances will take place at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 14 and at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 15. There will be a matinee performance for school audiences on Friday, September 13. All performances will take place in the Kaplan Theatre at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Theatre, 5601 S. Braeswood, 77096.  For information or to purchase tickets please visit the J’s website at or call 713.551.7255.

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