Posts Tagged ‘Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga’

‘Drift’ Combines Rock Music and Videography for Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga Production

June 3, 2012

Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga Director Garry Posey came across the concept album that this musical is based on many years ago.    To his delight, the songs from Jeremy Schonfeld have been used in the making of a musical with lyrics and music by Schonfeld and the book by Craig Pospisil.    ‘Drift’ was given a good review when it premiered at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2006.     ETC will be one of the first Regional Theatres to mount a production of this, “New, edge rock musical,” says Posey.     He says that ‘Drift’ contains very little dialog, instead relying on songs, staging and theatricality to tell the story of it’s protagonist David who is going through a divorce.     The play opened this weekend on the Black Box stage of the St. Andrew’s Center.

Here’s more about this production from the ETC website:

June 1 – 17

  • Fridays
  • 7:30
  • Sundays
  • 2:30, 6:30

“Jeremy Shonfeld, the writer, is insistent about the story being told through the music, there is very little dialogue in the 90 minute show,” says director Garry Lee Posey.  “A component from a previous production utilized videography, something that I believe could really enhance the story telling, so we are using that convention as well. To help us direct the use of this convention in the most effective way possible, we are focusing on music videos for inspiration.”

Drift marks the 25th production that Garry Posey has directed with ETC. “To me, Drift is a musical that finds its protagonist trying to survive in two different worlds- fantasy and reality. In the musical, recently divorced David lives (and sings about what is) in his mind. His ex, Laura conversely finds herself trying to pull David back into reality. Ironically, the plot of DRIFT and my tenure thus far with ETC are almost mirror images of the other.”

Drift is directed by Garry Posey.  Cast members include Maggie Bradshaw, Damon Buxton, Dana Colagiovanni, Kyle Dagnan, Ryan Laskowski, Ellen Poole, Justin Wahlne and Jeremy Wilkins.  The stage manager is Casey Keelen.

Listen to the Story:


Ibsen’s ‘A Doll’s House’ adapted for Ensemble Theatre Production

May 3, 2012

Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga producers chose ‘A Doll’s House’ as this year’s classic stage play because it addresses marriage conventions.    Producer and actor Christy Gallo says that Henrick Ibsen’s play written in the late 1800’s has some, “Great commentary on marriage.”    As such, ‘A Doll’s House’ fits into the ETC theme for this season of exploring social norms.

Kelly Lapzynski directs this ETC production.    The cast will be working from an adaptation of this Ibsen tragedy written by Lapzynski who worked with four different translations of ‘A Doll’s House’ seeking agreement between them.

The following comes from ETC’s press release:

“First and foremost, Ibsen wrote a tragedy.   The story is based on the true life events of one of Ibsen’s friends, author Laura Smith Petersen,” explains director Kelly Lapczynski.   “When Laura’s husband contracted tuberculosis, doctors advised that he go south to recuperate and Laura participated in a forgery to acquire the money.  When he discovered the forgery, he divorced Laura and threw her out of the house.  Within a few years, Laura was sent to a mental hospital and Ibsen began to write A Doll’s House. “

“I love the way it addresses marriage conventions,” says actor John Thomas Cecil. “Ibsen’s classic delves into issues that are so mainstream today, yet were so controversial in his time. It has been fun to explore the contrast between the life we live today and Ibsen’s world.

A Doll’s House is directed by Kelly Lapczynski.  Cast members include Brandi Alexander, John Thomas Cecil, Evie Durant, Christy Gallo, Jamie Goodnight, Karen Keith and Doug May.  The stage manager is Eric “Red” Wyatt.

For more information about the production, check out

Christy Gallo and John Thomas Cecil, ETC’s ‘A Doll’s House’

Listen to the Story:

‘Living Newpaper’ Premieres at Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga

March 19, 2012

Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

The idea for ‘Living Newspaper’ as an art form came about  through the Federal Theatre Project of the 1930s as a way to take social issues, research them and dramatize them through songs, scenes and monologues using fictional characters.    The idea was to show a personal side of an issue in order to raise awareness about it.

ETC will present a new ‘Living Newspaper’ for today’s audience.    This play opens on March 23rd and runs for three weeks, three nights per week at the St. Andrews Center.     The cast and writers chose topics to cover and wrote the script for the show.    Theatre Professor from Chattanooga State’s Professional Actors’ Training Program Jeff Parker directs this ‘Living Newspaper’.

Listen to the story with Jeff Parker:

“Have A Seat” Gives Voice to Chattanooga Homelessness

November 28, 2011

ETC "Have a Seat"

Have a Seat is an original theatre piece created by the actors and co-directors, Christy Gallo and John Thomas Cecil.    Gallo gives a description of the 5 characters in Have a Seat which are based on the, “Top five reasons why people identify that they are homeless.”

Martha Jean – been on the streets most of her life and is now old enough to receive government housing
Leo – has aspergers, has been on the streets 7 years after suffering the loss of his wife
Arthur – new to homelessness after his father kicked him out of the house for being gay, is/was a student, struggles with drugs
Jinx – she ran away from her abusive father and has been riding the rails, and finally looking for a way to get her life back
Amy – lived beyond her means, lost her job, was evicted and her father wouldn’t help, been homeless about 4 months

Gallo and Cecil based this play on research from the Homeless Coalitions 2009 Blueprint and from statistics from the most recent Census.    One character in Have a Seat is based on an actual person as seen through the eyes of her social worker.    Here’s more from the ETC press release:

By the Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga

Directed by John Thomas Cecil and Christy Gallo

Dec 2- Dec 18 (Fridays 7:30, Saturdays 2:00, Sundays 3:00 AND/OR 6:30)

Description: We close out the season with an introspective look from the bottom up. The idea was presented about structuring a piece of theatre based on the concept of “if these chairs could talk.” We took that idea a step further by addressing the idea that a seat looks at the world from below everyone and couple that with the idea communities across country are slowly becoming inundated with homeless populations, who also see society from the bottom up. So HAVE A SEAT is going to focus of the homeless community in Chattanooga, spotlighting where they sit, where they hang out and who they are.

Listen to the Story with Co-Directors and Cast Members:


ETC Brings Eric Coble’s Play, “The Giver” to the Stage

November 7, 2011

Photo credit: Virginia McNees

Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga has produced, “The Giver” for their Fall 2011 Season.    The play runs through November 19th in ETC’s  black box  space within the St. Andrew’s Center.    This short play by Eric Coble is based on the Newberry Award winning Children’s story by Lois Lowry published in 1993.

This is taken from the press release:

ETC brings Lois Lowry’s beloved children’s classic to life with this adaptation by Eric Coble. “The Giver focuses on the dangers of creating a utopian society that is devoid of pain,” says director Casey Keelen. “The entire society lives their lives in an attempt to achieve sameness.  There is no individuality whatsoever. And right now, we live in a society that focuses on getting a certain look or acting a certain way but we don’t necessarily celebrate who we are as individuals.”  To achieve her vision, Keelen developed a new slant on puppetry. “My concept revolves around most of the characters being puppets themselves,” says Keelen.  “This show is so important  in today’s society because it shows what a lack of individuality can cause.”

Directed by Casey Keelen
Featuring: Christopher Cooper, Evie Durant, Kelly Lapczynski, Xander merciers and Makenzie Young.

October 4 – 19

Fridays    7:30
Saturdays   2:00

Listen to the Story with Director and Cast for this production:

ETC’s, “Lunch Money” Tackles Bullying in Schools

September 12, 2011

Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga presents an original work featuring young people struggling with school bullying.    Why does it happen?    Who does it affect?    What if anything can be done about it?

From the ETC press realease:

One of the hottest topics has been the idea of bullying in our schools. A cast of 8 explores the issues that surround school bullying, its immediate and long term effects, and the people who it affects beyond the bully and the bullied. ETC employed a method of ensemble creation, where the cast was  integral in crafting and creating the storyline from research, statistics, and surveys. Join ETC as we delve into this investigative theatre piece.

Directed by Garry Lee Posey.
Featuring: Christopher Cooper, Jamie McIntosh, Ellen Poole, Jenna Reschenthaler, Morgan Robbins, Jeremy Wilkins, Eric “Red” Wyatt and
Makenzie Young.September 9 – 25

Fridays    7:30
Saturdays   2:00
Sundays   6:30

Photo credit: Virginia McNees

New Jersey just passed a new, tough anti-bullying law.     This came about after a college student killed himself after a video  taken of him having a sexual affair with another man was posted on the internet.    Diane Sawyer covered this story for ABC News linked here.    The video includes an interview with Dan Savage who is compelled to say to gay teens, “It gets better.”

I found this at the website called

Bullying statistics 2010:

New bullying statistics for 2010 revealed about one in seven students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade is either a bully or has been a victim of bullying. Sometimes a teen or child who has been bullied eventually becomes the bully as a way to retaliate. In fact, revenge for bullying is one of the strongest motivations for school shootings, according to recent bullying statistics. A reported 61 percent of students said they believe students shoot others at school because they have been victims of physical violence at home or at school. This is a true indicator that bullying can occur in all forms by other students, children, teens as well as adults. According to various bullying studies, many teens and children act out violently on their peers through acts of bullying because they are abused at home.

"Lunch Money"-ETC

Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

Listen to the story with “Lunch Money” cast and Director Garry Posey:

ETC Presents “Comedy of Errors” by Shakespeare on August 12, 2011

August 8, 2011

Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga Producing Partner and Director Garry Posey reports that, “Comedy of Errors” is based on a Roman farce as one of Shakespeare’s first plays and also his shortest so is a great introduction to the Bard’s body of work.     Posey’s concept for this production is, “Super Fly meets Laugh In” complete with bell bottoms, silk shirts and jump suits and a set that resembles a Laugh-In wall.

The play features a befuddled reunion of two sets of twins who were separated at birth leading to much confusion, mistaken identities and slap-stick all around.

The 1960’s just wouldn’t be the same without Rowan and Martin’s “Laugh-In.”

Here’s a few minutes of the 1976 adaptation of, “Comedy of Errors” by Trevor Nunn:

Listen to the Story:

ETC brings “La Llorona, Three Tales” to the Stage

June 16, 2011

Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

“La Llorona, Three Tales,” written by Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga’s Garry Posey is a play based on an urban legend that can be traced back to 1502 about a woman or apparition who is sometimes witnessed near a lake desperately searching for her lost children.    The show will run for two weekends starting June 17th, 2011 at the St. Andrew’s Center.

Allied Arts of Chattanooga writes about, “La Llorona:”

The community is invited to join Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga (ETC) for the remounting of Garry Lee Posey’s “La Llorona: Three Tales” June 17 – June 26; Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Performances will take place in the St. Andrews Center, 1918 Union Avenue.

“Liza Blair, with the Latino Arts Project, approached ETC to develop a theatrical piece highlighting the various Latino cultures. At the time I was working with the St Andrews Center’s After School Arts Academy, which was predominantly Guatemalan children,” explains writer Garry Lee Posey. “In class one afternoon, I told them a story from my life. The goal was to talk about how our personal stories, memories and imagination turn into inspiration for what we do as theatre artists. When I finished, I opened the floor for the students to share stories (these are 3-5 graders) and almost immediately four hands shot straight up and they each told a story about a crying woman.”

“Initially, I couldn’t understand it, but after Liza met with them and had a very similar experience, we did some research and discovered La Llorona. Further research showed that the story of La Llorona is actually an urban legend, of sorts, that exists in almost every Latino culture,” continues Posey. “For this script, I read several versions of the story and found common themes throughout them. Armed with those themes, the different versions of the story, and my imagination, I sat down to write three different tales. One of them deals in fantasy with mermaids, another with religious piety and the third deals with lofty aspirations.”

Admission is free, thanks to a generous donation from the Tennessee Arts Commission and the Latino Arts Project. Doors open 30 minutes before each performance. Free parking is available behind the St. Andrews Center. ETC’s production of “La Llorona: Three Tales” is directed by Brenda Schwab. Cast members include Jamie Goodnight, Casey Keelen, Rachel Turl and Sonibert Wood. The stage manager is Eric “Red” Wyatt.

Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga (ETC) is a nonprofit housed at the St. Andrews Center at 1918 Union Avenue in Historic Highland Park. This is ETC’s third season. For more information about the season, programming and opportunities, visit or call 423-987-5141.

Here’s Lila Downs singing “La Llorona” on you-tube:

I found a poem about the Legend of this crying woman here:

La Llorona – from the Mexican folktale.

Don’t go down to the river, child,
Don’t go there alone;
For the sobbing woman, wet and wild,
Might claim you for her own.

She weeps when the sun is murky red;
She wails when the moon is old;
She cries for her babies, still and dead,
Who drowned in the water cold.

Abandoned by a faithless love,
Filled with fear and hate.
She flung them from a cliff above
And left them to their fate.

Day and night, she heard their screams,
Borne on the current’s crest;
Their tortured faces filled her dreams,
And gave her heart no rest.

Crazed by guilt and dazed by pain,
Weary from loss of sleep,
She leaped in the river, lashed by rain,
And drowned in the waters deep.

She seeks her children day and night,
Wandering, lost, and cold;
She weeps and moans in dark and light,
A tortured, restless soul.

Don’t go down to the river, child,
Don’t go there alone;
For the sobbing woman, wet and wild,
Might claim you for her own.

Listen to the story with playwright Garry Posey:

ETC Produces 3rd Short Attention Span Play festival with, “Speed Dating in Ten Short Plays!”

May 31, 2011

Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

The above theatre poster was created by Young Monster for this original production.

Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga opens it’s annual festival of short plays at the Saint Andrew’s Center through June 12th, 2011.     ETC’s short plays include original works by up-coming playwrights including Co-Producing Director, Garry Posey.

Has romance changed in the 21st Century of virtual internet chat-rooms and, “speed dating?”     Is true love possible within the first five minutes of meeting someone?     “Why is Generation Y waiting longer to get married,” asks festival actor Daniel Pound who was born on the cusp in the early 80’s?       These short plays seek to address these questions.

“Most of the plays deal with first time interactions,” between characters says Director Casey Keelen.     Krysten Pound who is acting in it says her favorite short play opens with a single woman whose first line to her potential suitor is, “Don’t touch me.”      Actor Daniel Pound describes an abstract short play which takes place entirely while two actors circle one another.

The Pounds are a newly married couple, both trained actors working in Chattanooga.      Mr. Pounds has appeared in UTC’s production of Greek Play, “Peace” adapted by Gaye Jeffers and he is currently involved in Chattanooga State’s Professional Actor’s Training Program.      Mrs. Pound is a graduate of the same program.

ETC says about the cast:

Director Casey Keelen returns to the festival for her second year. Actors include Mary Christa Jaramillo, Maggie Bradshaw, Daniel Pound, Krysten Pound, Seth Wilson, Sonibert Wood and Eric Wyatt.  Stage Managed by Jeremy Wilkins.

ETC says about this original production:

Hey Singles! (And couples too!) Get your play on!
ETC’s annual 10-minute play festival returns this year with 10 original pieces focusing on the sometimes quick and always surprising world of dating.

ETC calls out for play submissions each year and this year’s playwrights include J. Stephen Brantley, Nancy Gall-Clayton Garry Lee Posey, Trace Crawford, John C. Davenport, John Donnelly, Mark Harvey Levine, John Weagly and Michael Weems.

Wikipedia has a well footnoted definition of Speed Dating here.

“My Children! My Africa!” by Athol Fugard on stage at Ensemble Theatre

May 6, 2011

Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

Ensemble Theatre of  Chattanooga presents, “My Children! My Africa!” to run Friday, Saturday and Sunday through May 15,2011 at the St. Andrew’s Center.

The L.A. Times wrote in 1991 about Athol Fugard’s play:

This play is, after all, all about words. About their tremendous power–to dissuade, persuade, elevate, manipulate and triumph without breaking skin or shedding blood. Fugard is his own best example. “If a struggle needs weapons,” he implores through the mouthpiece of his dedicated black teacher, Mr. M, “ give it words!

His play dazzles with its words. They govern its sadness and its passion–that of Mr. M (Brock Peters) for the supremacy of language; that of his favorite student Thami (Sterling Macer Jr.) for freedom too long deferred; that of the brilliant white South African schoolgirl, Isabel (Melora Hardin), for life in all its force, even when that eventually includes betrayal.

Incredible. Kicking off with the rather simple premise of a lively inter-school debate, “My Children! My Africa!” goes on to explore the complex matters of the poison of apartheid and violence, and the nature of ethics and friendship in socially turbulent South Africa.

Below are quotes from, “My Children! My Africa!” first produced in 1989 by Athol Fugard:

“Knowledge has banished fear”
“Hope…don’t be fooled by its gentle name. It is as dangerous as Hate and Despair”
“The clocks are ticking, my friends. History has got a strict timetable. If we’re not careful we might be remembered as the country where everybody arrived too late”
“The thought that you and Thami would be another two victims of this country’s lunacy, was almost too much for me. The time for lamentation is past”

Fugard says in the following video, “Write about what you love and what you know.”

Listen to the story about ETC’s production with director, Brenda Schwab and actor Jeremy Wilkins: