published Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Ensemble's actors, audience will explore homelessness

IF YOU GO

What: "Have a Seat."

When: 7:30 p.m. today, Dec. 9 and Dec. 16; 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10 and Dec. 17; 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11 and Dec. 18.

Where: Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga, 1918 Union Ave. (St. Andrews Center).

Admission: $10 adults, $8 students.

Phone: 987-5141.

Website: www.ensembletheatreofchattanooga.com.

Audience members and cast members will be on the same plane today when the Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga closes out its 2011 season with the original, experimental production "Have a Seat."

"The audience is experiencing it along with the actors," said Christy Gallo, who is directing the show with John Thomas Cecil. "The entire theater is the stage ... and the action takes place around the audience. We call it the opposite of theater in the round. We're taking away that comfort zone" between stage and audience.

Part of the reason for taking away that comfort, she said, is the production's theme of homelessness.

The production is a written collaborative effort among its five actors, with scenes improved during the rehearsal process, Gallo said. It also contains a monologue local writer Cody Maxwell penned for an earlier Ensemble Theatre play.

"We want to raise awareness [of homelessness] and give it a level of humanity," she said, "and we want to understand the humanity behind it. It's a people issue."

So, Gallo said, with audience members grabbing a chair and choosing a seat anywhere in the theater, they'll be on the same level as many homeless people.

"Homeless people have nowhere to go," she said. "Nor do our actors."

Gallo said the material for the production included statistics from the Chattanooga Homeless Coalition, and its five characters are based on five specific statistics.

"We've been fortunate to have the input of various people around town," she said. In addition, she said, the actors bring a variety of experiences to the table on the issue.

"We've had some wonderful insights."

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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codymaxwell said...

Hi. I'm Cody Maxwell, and though it probably doesn't matter at this point, I'd like to make a minor correction to this story. I didn't write that monologue mentioned here. I put together a story for the Pulse, a local newsweekly, and in the course of that collected writings from area homeless men and women and the Pulse published verbatim what writings these people gave me. The monologue used in the play was not written by me, but by a young homeless man. I didn't write it.

March 28, 2012 at 5:09 a.m.
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