When Garry Posy founded Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga several years ago, he quickly realized he needed something to distinguish his company from all the other ones in the city. He wanted to do new plays, but that wasn’t quite enough. “What we finally decided to do was mix the new with the old,” said Posey. “We have innovative fare, and we also have classics. We do 1 Shakespearean play per year, which is a big draw, especially since our conception of the plays dig deeper than standard productions. For example, several McCallie School faculty members liked the way we produced Hamlet so much, they invited us to the school to present it to the entire 10th grade class. They said our presentation changed their approach to the play.”
And that is what Posey and his group like to do: make people think about things on a deeper level, provoke them to get out of their comfort zones. In the past, some of those works have included the Laramie Project, about the murder of Matthew Shepherd and Columbina, about Columbine. During part of April the group is doing a play called Stoning Mary, which addresses severe needs in Africa such as family members not having enough AIDS medicine, the recruitment of children as soldiers, and young girls getting stoned to death. However, the playwright, Debbie T Green, insists that a white cast portray the characters as she wants these problems not to just be black ones, but to belong to humanity.
Beginning at the end of April the theatre is going to perform My Children, My Africa by Athold Fugard, a work that concerns apartheid.
And judging by the audience responses as they left the theatre one recent Sunday, Ensemble Theatre Group of Chattanooga has already achieved its goal of encouraging people to think outside of the box