Three years ago, Wide Open Floor started out as a pop-up project in a vacant storefront next to Niedlov’s Breadworks on Main Street.
Today, the show has evolved into one of the most important workshops and creative outlets for artists and performers in every spectrum of the Chattanooga art scene.
What: Wide Open Floor at Barking Legs Theater
Where: 1307 Dodds Ave.
When: Friday, Sept. 6, 7:30 p.m.
How much: $5
For more information: Click here
The September show—on Friday night at Barking Legs Theater—features a lineup of 17 performances, ranging from dance to comedy to theater to audience participation.
Marcus Patrick Ellsworth is the host and ringmaster of the program. He took over the show from Angela Sweet, owner of Niedlov’s, in April. With the help of Ann Law—dancer and organizer of Wide Open Floor—they were able to move the show to Barking Legs Theater.
Because of social media and word of mouth, the show has become increasingly popular.
"The list of performers fills up about a week or two before every show," Ellsworth said. "Initially, it felt very closed off, but we wanted a wide range of performers, so we reached out to the community."
Spectators to a Wide Open Floor performance will view an onslaught of acts in eight-and-a-half-minute segments. Every month, performers are given a theme on which the acts are encouraged to build their art around.
"Sometimes the theme is extremely important, and sometimes it’s frivolous," Ellsworth said. "We never require that people follow them, but sometimes it can help."
Friday’s theme is Falling into Colors. Past themes have included a focus on gay pride; being completely nonsensical; and "back to basics," which urged performers to use few props and no electronic accompaniment (like recorded music and amplification).
Wide Open Floor is completely uncensored, meaning the show is strictly for adults. Hate speech and open flames are also not allowed. Ellsworth hinted in a Facebook post that a similar program for children is in the early stages of planning.
If you’re planning on coming to the show, Ellsworth encourages you to have an open mind.
"Expect anything," he said. "We’ve had everything from drag queens, short plays, comedians and storytellers. We even had a magician once. I’m still surprised every time."
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