Chattanooga’s Theater for the New South announced a new season of shows this week and open calls for a playwriting workshop.
The company is known for its unique and often-risqué approach to theater in both performance and setting.
This season, the company will tackle four productions, including a Greek tragedy and, for the first time, a musical.
Matt Johnson is artistic producer for TFTNS. He said the company, which is known for its boundary-pushing creativity, is making a few changes for the upcoming season.
"In terms of creativity, we’re trying to expand," he said. "We’re trying to lay out a little more structure ... Our main purpose is to teach and please."
That structure includes forming committees to help with marketing and fundraising. However, much of the moving parts are handled by a staff of six, including Johnson, resident director Blake Harris, and marketing and communications director Megan Hollenbeck, among others.
While planning is an essential part of most companies, TFTNS operates on sweat and faith. This includes finding rehearsal space, funding and an audience.
Johnson said they hope to have performance space for their first production—"Prometheus Bound" by Greek tragedian Aeschylus, which opens Sept. 27—but thus far, the space hasn’t been formally locked down.
"We would like to have at least a month to work in a space," Johnson said. "We have a rehearsal space, so there’s pressure to have a performance space soon."
In terms of funding, Johnson said the company is toying with the idea of having preview parties before the shows. These would provide an opportunity to mingle with the cast and allow complete transparency of the TFTNS operations from top to bottom. The ticket price would include wine and cheese, the funding of which would help the company.
Casting has been completed for "Prometheus Bound," but the company will need actors and volunteers for the rest of the season. Those interested can keep up with announcements via the TFTNS Facebook page.
"All you need is an open mind," Johnson said.
Harris has provided a list of the upcoming shows, with a brief synopsis of each.
"Prometheus Bound," written by Aeschylus, translated by James Kerr
"Chained to a rock at the end of the earth is where we find Prometheus, the god who forsook his own kind to bring fire and knowledge to humans. Linguistically and thematically, it is considered one of the most brutal and sophisticated of Greek tragedies. Written over 2,000 years ago, this tragedy still finds its way to the heart of the human condition."
"Circle Mirror Transformation," by Annie Baker
"Six people join together every week for a community center drama class, but each individual ultimately learns more about themselves than acting. As they experiment with fun and harmless theater games, we witness an unearthing of raw emotion in quiet and not-so-quiet displays."
"Roadkill Confidential," by Sheila Callaghan
"Told through high theatrics, mixed media and an always-looming FBI agent, this noir-ish absurdist comedy holds nothing back as it explores the not-so-fine line between private versus public roles of government and art. While no animals will be harmed in the making of this production, plenty of theater conventions will be."
"Tick, Tick … Boom!," book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson
"The only other musical by the late Jonathan Larson, this autobiographical tale looks at the courage it takes to follow your dreams as you face the looming age of 30. Containing 14 songs, 10 characters, three actors and a band, this musical takes you on the playwright/composer's journey that led to the Broadway blockbuster 'Rent.'"
Fresh Squeezed Workshop
In addition to performances, the company is also offering an opportunity for playwrights to workshop their plays: Fresh Squeezed affords a writer the chance to have their work read out loud and performed and critiqued by actors, directors and other writers.
"We’ll have about four to five playwrights, and we’ll just sit down and read through the play," Johnson said. "We’ll give notes on how the play could be improved, help the play develop. The idea is to be critical and constructive."
These workshops, which started in 2011, will aim to help playwrights fully realize their work and potentially elevate them to a level where they are ready to be performed.
A schedule should be released soon, Johnson said.
More information can be found at the TFTNS website.
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