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ExxonMobil Discovery Series: Emancipation!


Feb 11 - Feb 13, 2025

Event Type

Discovery Educational Series, Education Outreach

Ticket Price

This is a non-ticketed event. Performances are provided free of charge to 5th graders and teachers in Houston public schools.
Sign up at the bottom of this page to learn more about our registration process.

Performance Hall

Zilkha Hall


One hour

Introducing 5th Graders to the World of the Performing Arts

Arts Partner: ShaWanna Renee Rivon
Originally commissioned by Performing Arts Houston

ShaWanna’s commissioned work, Emancipation!, is a play with music that examines how our Black Ancestors in Houston, particularly on Emancipation Street in Third Ward, fought for our freedom. Emancipation! involves dancing, singing, and celebration of the accomplishments that Blacks have made in this city but also shows us how we are no freer today than we were during Reconstruction Years. What we do today will determine the legacy of those who shoulders we stand on and how we can all have true freedom in the future.

ShaWanna has teamed up with musical director and writer Melanie Bivens who created all new music for Emancipation and directed by Monique Midgette.

In the 2024-2025 school year, the Hobby Center is excited to present a diverse range of free educational field trips to Hobby Center’s Zilkha Hall with the goal of serving 5th grade students in Houston. Through this TEKS-aligned series, 5th grade students are introduced to dance, music and/or theater in ways that are engaging, fun and further their learning and belonging.

Learn More about the Hobby Center’s educational programming and future opportunities for all Houston school districts.

This project is supported in part by an award from the Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and Mid-America Arts Alliance.

About ShaWanna Renee Rivon

ShaWanna Renee Rivon is an award-winning and nationally renowned playwright and producer. ShaWanna’s success grew with urban plays such as Cheaper to Keep Her and Marriage Material, which starred Vivica Fox, Brian McKnight, and Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins (of “TLC”), both of which toured nationally. ShaWanna earned her BFA in Playwriting and Dramaturgy from the University of Houston. As a developing creative, ShaWanna discovered her niche and artists mission: to create period-piece comedies centered around the lives of Black women. In this, she has begun the development of her 7-play cycle, the first of which is Old Black and White Hollywood, about a 1950’s Black woman comic who desires to become the first Black female movie star. Old Black & White Hollywood was developed with Matt Chapman, Suzan-Lori Parks and Theresa Rebeck and won the Edward Albee Playwriting Award. The second installment of her 7-Play Cycle, Power to the Queendom, was developed with the Rec Room Writers. Set in 1970s Houston, the script about a group of female Black Panthers is loosely based on a true story, will be produced in Los Angeles at the Loft Ensemble Spring ‘24. The third installment of the 7-play cycle, You’re Cordially Invited to Sit-In is about the 1960 sit-in demonstration that took place in Houston, had its world- premiere at Stages Theatre Spring 2022. ShaWanna is currently under commission with the Alley Theatre to write about the life of jazz musician Arnett Cobb.

Performance Schedule

  • Audio Description
  • Open Captions
  • ASL

Swipe to see more details

5th Grade

  • Tue Feb 11, 2025 at 9:30 am
  • Tue Feb 11, 2025 at 11:30 am
  • Wed Feb 12, 2025 at 9:30 am
  • Wed Feb 12, 2025 at 11:30 am
  • Thu Feb 13, 2025 at 9:30 am
  • Thu Feb 13, 2025 at 11:30 am

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