This month, Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga is debuting its first play in a new theater space at Eastgate Town Center.
"Avenue Q," a musical the local theater group's artistic director, Gary Lee Posey, describes as "Sesame Street" meets "Friends," runs Friday-Sunday until Jan. 27 at the new location. In addition to expanded space for the company, the new location also provides additional seating for patrons and opportunities to reach new patrons.
"There is no theater in this market," said Posey. "We're really thinking that this is a step in the right direction for us. There are plenty of opportunities and space here to expand and we're already expanding our programming this year. We're hoping that the new location gives us more income, visibility, notoriety and legitimacy."
In addition to a different space, he said the new location will also give the company some new opportunities, like the addition of two more performance series and Saturday morning classes for kids.
Staying true to the company's original mission, Posey said he also hopes the move will help the company do what's it's always set out to do: produce quality productions and pay the performers.
"The main difference with Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga over its competitors is that we're the only theater that pays its performers and has work on a regular basis," he said. "Paying artists is the bedrock of this company."
As an instructor for Chattanooga State's professional actor training program, Posey said it's essential to provide work for young actors that can help them grow professionally while helping pay the bills.
"We want to help students move forward and give friends, students and all these talented well-meaning individuals who are leaving Chattanooga an opportunity to stay," he said. "Bringing people in and keeping artists here is our goal."
The main way the company strives to do this is by providing engaging productions for both the actors and the audience, he said.
"It's very rare that someone walks out of one of our shows without an experience," said Posey. "If you walk out of the theater talking, we've done our job."
Upcoming plays include "The Pillowman," "Sight for Sore Eyes," "All in the Timing," "Jeckyll and Hyde," "Dear Brutus," "The Tempest," "The Bald Soprano," "A Rekindled Flame" and the "Short Attention Span" 10-minute play festival.
For more information visit www.ensembletheatreofchattanooga.com.