Ensemble's actors, audience will explore homelessness

Ensemble's actors, audience will explore homelessness

December 2nd, 2011 by Clint Cooper in Chattnow Art

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."