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AMAHL and the Night Visitors:
HBCU Arts Festival 2023:

The 1st Annual HBCU Arts Festival launched on Martha’s Vineyard on August 14th of 2023 taking audiences on a journey from the origins of the Negro spiritual to the present day through stories and songs of sorrow, joy, faith, and hope.


The full day of events included “Spirit of the Quilt” an interactive children’s program that shared how coded messages are infused within the art forms of storytelling, quilts, and negro spirituals that featured artists Javaka Steptoe, Dr. Jolie Rocke, and Pamela Simonson. The Coalition of African Americans in the Performing Arts (CAAPA) brought Color to the Classics with a Master Class hosted by Reggie Van Lee led by world renowned soprano, Angela Reneé Simpson.


In the afternoon, HBCU student and alum artists Ashton Denzel Jones (Texas Southern alum), Ashli Taylor (Prairie View A&M student), Rachel Singleton (Spelman student), Amenta Cutliff (Texas Southern alum), Colonel-Joshua Higgins (Howard alum), and Darshell Sandifer (Alabama A&M alum), showcased their works through performance, displays, and video exhibits. The HBCU Arts Student & Alum Showcase was followed by a CAAPA hosted panel discussion “HBCU 911: The Arts” with Terri Allen, Patrick McKoy, James Walker, Jr., and Angela Simpson, moderated by Driven Theater founder, Rachel H. Dickson. The HBCU Arts Festival 2023 finale was the “Evolution of the Negro Spiritual” concert featuring HBCU Arts founder, Dr. Jolie Rocke with narrator, Dr. Maya Gibson and pianist Chelsea de Souza

The transformative power of the arts in the unforgettable setting of Union Chapel in the center of bustling Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard etched an indelible imprint, weaving together the past, present, and future of resilient people while nurturing a vibrant cultural legacy.


On Sunday, June 19, 2020 the play Remembering Juneteenth: A Historical Account of the Emancipation of Formerly Enslaved African Americans Through Narratives & Negro Spirituals written by Dr. Jolie Rocke and directed by Errol Anthony Wilks was performed by Jessica Jaye, Hindolo Bongay, and Dr. Jolie Rocke at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston. Produced by Driven Theater Company funding was provided through Texas Commission on the Arts and The Black Seed Grant through the Billie Holiday Theater.


Created by: Michelle Britton

Produced by: Lionwoman Productions

Supported by: Driven Theater Company


Cast 1


November 29, 2020 @ 3:00 pm

Cast 2


November 30, 2020 @ 7:00 pm

These two evenings of art and conversation are invitations to be entertained, and to listen in on fresh perspectives.  Listening is healing.  As we make room to take in another's story without judgment, we are invited to recognize and celebrate the richness and worth of each human being, and to see ourselves in each other.

January 2020



Hexed, Hijacked and Hopeful


After a 2019 collaboration with Scriptwriters Houston for a production hosted at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH), Driven Theater Company returns to (CAMH) with the new theatrical work titled Deferred Landscape: Hexed, Hijacked, and Hopeful. Three separate scenes, created by Texas-based artists Yunina Barbour-Payne, Rachel Dickson, and Angela Rice, converge into a one-hour experience using the exhibition Will Boone: The Highway Hex as the inspiration and springboard to create original work that explores the personal and local character of home.  

Performers featured include:

Derrick Brent

Tyne Dickson

Shannon Emmerick

Loren Holmes

Crystal Rae

Eboni Williams

Yunina Barbour-Payne

December 2017


In a collaborative project with The Ensemble Theater and Crystal Rae Productions,

DTC presented a one woman production of :



A story that follows a young girl as she finds her place to belong during a period in history that goes with out recollection.  We talk about slavery(1863) and we talk about Civil Rights(1963) but what about the 50 year marker between--1913?   So much rich history highlighting African American inventors, politicians, entrepreneurs, organization founders, performers, and activists is presented in this one act piece, suitable for all audiences.  Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated is the final stop for the main character in BELONGING.  

Summer 2017

DTC worked in collaboration with NITC to present:



Race Exchange, an interactive opportunity to discuss race

MATCH 3400 Main Street.

People from all walks of life--democrat, republican, old, young, male, female, rich, poor--coming to together to embrace and engage around the discussion of race will happen in this conversation.  The evening will involve an open discussion around a "hard" question related to race that can only be discussed when a safe space has been established.  The conversation will continue with a group selected genre used to create pieces that speak to the views represented in the group.  No performance experience required, everyone welcome with the only requirement to have an interest in an honest, open discussion about race.  The conversation will be lead by Rachel Dickson, the founding Artistic Director of Driven Theater and a Licensed Master of Social Work with a sincere interest in using theater to discuss issues and didactic content. 


Fall 2016

Want to “PLAY” with RACE? 

Six different theaters, over 20 participants had dialogue around questions related to race in the following format:

Driven Theater Company’s artistic director, Rachel Dickson invites you to participate in one or all of a series of EXCHANGES to encourage committed theater artists/supporters to discuss race. 


While race is a global issue it deserves addressing around how it affects our immediate domain of theater functioning, on and off stage, here in the Houston community.  While it is suspected that some kind of discussion happens within our "silos." we would like to see a conversation happen BETWEEN our various theater groups.  What better way than to come together to CREATE.   


Saturday, September 17th from 1:00-3:00 pm

HOST SPACE:  4th Wall Theatre Co. and Mildred's Umbrella Theatre Co.

1824 Spring St., Studio 101, Houston, TX 77007


Thursday, October 6th 4-6 pm

HOST SPACE:  The Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main St., Houston, TX  77002


Sunday, October 23rd 6-8 pm



Tuesday, November 8th at 6:30-8:30 pm

HOST SPACE:  Main Street Theater, 2540 Times Blvd., Houston, TX 77005


Saturday, November 19th at 10:30 am-12:30 pm

HOST SPACE:  Classical Theater Company, 4617 Montrose Blvd, Suite 100, Houston, TX 77006


Monday, December 5th 6-8 pm



The goals are:

  • to approach a designated topic connected to the race issue (starting with what a discussion about what is race??),

  • grow as individuals through the discussion, then

  • create a piece(s) that speaks to the views presented


Artists are free to come to one, many or all of their scheduled dates.  The topic will change with each EXCHANGE, as will the genre used as a basis for creation.  Every contributor will have input.  At this point, the process is most important so there is no "performance" currently planned for the created work.


November 2015



DTC presented a culminating performance at THE ECONOMIC INEQUALITY AND CIVIC ENGAGEMENT CONFERENCE hosted by LoneStar Community College.  The company attended most of the workshops and aggregated the information gathered into vignettes constructing a 15 minute performance.  The mission of the two day conference was to examine the ways institutions of higher education are dealing with rising levels of economic inequality in the United States. The conference addressed: Is inequality a problem?  If so, what should be done about it?  How are themes of inequality being dealt with in the classroom?  What teaching pedagogies and co-curricular activities are being used to get students to think critically about economic inequality in the United States and the world? Actors included Andraes Hunt, Brandon Morgan and Crystal Cowart.

November 2015

DTC collaborated with the TEXAS-FRENCH ALLIANCE to assist a dynamic group of 13-17 year olds in the Change Happens program at Good Hope Baptist Church with developing a performance quality piece, centered around group selected topics including: beautification, teen pregnancy, racism, and gangs.  

Summer Theater Intensive 2015

A group of youth spent a week exploring themselves and performance. Through a guided 30-hour experience including Master Classes with professional artists in dance, playwriting and song, DTC youth created a theatrical piece that speaks to life truths as they see them.  Part of the camp experience was to perform for other young people. 


Five amazing youth created a dynamic 25-minute piece that spoke to messages they felt other young people needed to hear--

     speak up for yourself

                   live your dreams

Theater Intensive Company Touring Program
Summer 2015
YOUTH AGES 11 - 16 yrs


Performance experience required

(other summer programs, school programs, church drama programs, instruments, singing, dance, acting etc.)

DATES:  June 29 –July 10, 2015

TIME:  9 am to 4 pm

LOCATION:  Augustana Lutheran Church, 2001 Wheeler, Houston, TX  77002

This is not a church affiliated project



Prior to June 15 -  $150

plus a non-refundable $25 deposit

On or after June 15th  registration fee is $200



Great for you youth who have done other programs and now want a more intense experience that includes writing and TOURING!!!


December 2014


Driven or Led 

One can be driven, or led, by many things that influence the journey.  This FRAG will encourage audiences to explore their own path, while also addressing the forces, literal or figurative, that affect us.  Eight  exciting original works by dynamic writers including:   Rachel Dickson, Melita Hawkins, Donna Latham, Pat Morgan, Jason Rainey, Michael Weems.  Held at The Ensemble Theatre with an amazing ensemble of actors including:  Alicia Stevens, AnyCole, Brandon Morgan, Heath Ramirez, Rolondo Roy Jr., Stephanie Ramirez and dynamic direction by Rachel Dickson and Wayne DeHart.

May 2014

University of Houston Downtown

Center for Public Service and Family Strengths TITLE IV E National Roundtable

Galveston, TX May 21-23, 2014

After attending 11 of the conference break-out sessions, the company developed a 17-minute connected series of vignettes to represent the didactic material in an engaging, yet informative way.


Theatrical formats executed included: monologues, scenes, musical theater, ensemble machines, tableaus, modern/contemporary dance, and audience involvement.


Student and employee training, innovation bridging the university and agency gap, mental illness, innovation, marijuana as a child safety threat, youth homelessness and untethering/go mobile implications are some of the topics addressed.  Actresses included: Joy James, Cynthia Brown-Garcia, Andrew Russell and Natalia Silvani.




A two week intensive theatrical experience allowing youth ages 10-16 to create, rehearse and make "performanc ready" a piece to be put onTOUR to various youth programs throughout the city.


What some youth had to say:


"I had so much fun-especially the games!"

Jean, 8th grade girl


"I learned other students that are different than me, are just like me."

Mike, 6th grade boy


"Touring made me feel like a true professional."

7th grade girl

Summer 2011- Spring 2014


A series of vignettes that explores self-worth as defined by the realities of life, followed by a panel discussion with clinical practitioners.


Fashion Scene by Faye & Christy Runyon

My Heart by Cynthia Martinez

Reflection by Rachel Dickson

What is Gained is Loss; a Muse on Consequences by Evan Guilford-Blake


A fast-paced, audience-guided, interactive production that attempts to present 36 pieces in 63 minutes!  The 30-second to 4-minute original works by prolific writers from throughout the US will be presented by a dynamic ensemble while addressing such issues as family dysfunction, dating, self-identity and religion.  Come back on the second night and see a totally different show.  All we need to make it happen is—YOU!!



Fragmentation III will focus on communication as it is affected by situations informed by technology, the parent/child dynamic, relationships, grief, and the power of the written word.  Between scenes an interactive discussion will ensue in the hope of provoking the audience to consider communication styles and the individual contribution to society.



 This production will share issue-driven selections written by 15-18 years old writers.  The scenes address issues such as relationships, alcoholism, domestic violence, over-medication, and death.  The sharing is intended to further identify DTC and its focus for the community, validate youth writers as they see their works mounted and share superb acting talent with an audience.


This inaugural production shares new works with an interactive and theatrical look at topics including politics, domestic violence, self-identity, homelessness, mental illness, and relationships through scenes and monologues.


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