Ensemble Studio Theatre presents Going to the River 2004, the fifth annual festival of readings of new plays by African-American women. Curt Dempster, Jamie Richards and Elizabeth Van Dyke initiated Going to the River in 1999 to develop and celebrate the work of African-American women writers, and create a national forum for emerging black women writers from across the nation. The format would be a two-week festival of staged readings of emerging and established writers, as well as roundtable discussions focusing on the issues facing black theatre, bringing together playwrights, producers, agents and other professionals. Now in its fifth season, Going to the River has already been enormously effective in raising the consciousness and giving exposure as well as greater opportunities to under-served African American women playwrights. All this directly reflects E.S.T.'s mission to nurture artists and develop new plays for the American stage. Ma Rose by Cassandra Medley, starring Ruby Dee and directed by Irving Vincent will kick off the series. Ms. Medley is the 2004 Festival Honoree; she is a long time E.S.T. member, and was commissioned by E.S.T. to write Relativity, which is currently enjoying a production at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco.