University of Pittsburgh
June 28, 1999


Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, June 29 -- Eileen J. Morris, for the past 17 years the artistic and managing director of The Ensemble Theatre in Houston, has been named managing director of the internationally-renowned Kuntu Repertory Theatre at the University of Pittsburgh.

Morris' position is funded by a grant from the Pittsburgh Foundation Multicultural Arts Initiative and the Heinz Endowment. Working with KRT's founder and artistic director Vernell A. Lillie, Morris will be responsible for developing a management team and marketing plan, reviewing budgetary needs, exploring ways to increase earned income, and board development.

Morris, who three times has been a guest director for KRT as part of the Woodie King, Jr. Series, has extensive experience in all aspects of professional theater management. While in Houston, she developed administrative and artistic partnerships on project grants in both acting and directing, marketing ventures, joint subscription projects and audience development with organizations which include the Alley Theatre (one of the largest regional theaters and winner of the Tony Award in 1996), Houston Grand Opera (for whom she directed the play "Achilles' Heel"), Society of the Performing Arts, Houston Community College Fine Arts Department, DaCamera of Houston, Teatro Bilingue, Houston Ballet, Penumbra Theatre in Minnesota and Young Audiences of Houston.

Morris, who helped in the $4 million capital campaign at The Ensemble Theatre, served for nine years as managing director and eight years as artistic director, bringing in artists such as Ntozake Shange, author of...for colored girls; director Claude Purdy, and Woodie King, Jr., founder and artistic director of New York's New Federal Theatre. While Morris was there, the Ensemble Theatre collaborated with the Alley Theatre, Teatro Bilingue and Houston Community College on two Shakespearean productions, Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night's Dream, presented in a diverse and multicultural way.

Morris, who is currently vice president of the Black Theatre Network, will become president of that organization in 2000. Her other activities in black theater include serving as a board member of the Texas Non-Profit Theatres and as a theater panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, Cultural Arts Council of Houston and the Texas Commission on the Arts. She also participated in the National Black Theatre Summit I and II (sponsored by August Wilson among others) and was the recipient of the 1999 Texas Legislative Award for Outstanding Texan in the arts.

Morris has 20 years of experience in professional theater as a director, as well as a stage and film actor, having appeared in numerous movies, local and national commercials, and industrial productions. She graduated from both Northern Illinois University and most recently the Amos Tuck Business School Management Business Executive Program at Dartmouth College where she will be attending the Amos Tuck Advanced MBEP program this summer.

A native of the Chicago suburb of Kankakee, Ill., Morris now lives in the Shadyside section of Pittsburgh.

Entering its 25th year of operation, Kuntu Repertory Theatre is one of the nation's oldest African-American theaters associated with a major university. It provides opportunities for African-American playwrights, actors, administrators, designers and technicians. Kuntu Repertory is a non-profit institution that produces theatre grounded in the African Continuum. According to its stated philosophical tradition, KRT "cries out for all to recognize that the African-American has a past and is discovering and recovering its memories of this past."