published Thursday, March 7th, 2013

'Sight for Sore Eyes' a collaborative effort

Ensemble Theatre explores reaction to sobering news

Hunter Rodgers portrays Martin, who is going blind with a degenerative eye disease,
in “Sight for Sore Eyes.”
Hunter Rodgers portrays Martin, who is going blind with a degenerative eye disease, in “Sight for Sore Eyes.”
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

What: "Sight for Sore Eyes"

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, March 15-16, March 22-23; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 17, March 24

Where: Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga, Eastgate Town Center, 5600 Brainerd Road

Admission: $15 adults, $10 students

Phone: 423-987-5141

Website: www.ensembletheatreofchattanooga.com

Hearing life-altering news can cause our minds to race through a thousand thoughts at once, says Christy Gallo of Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga.

"Sight for Sore Eyes," which runs for the next two weekends, explores that concept in its story of a young teacher, husband and father who is facing eventual blindness from a degenerative eye disease.

"It started with the idea of following a character that goes blind," Gallo says of the theater's original work. "We wanted to explore the audience experiencing that along with the character."

Following a creative process in which writers and actors offered scenarios, played out improv scenes and cobbled together a script, the final product is a play that has comedic moments and drama but is, in general, she says, "hard to categorize."

Hunter Rodgers, who plays the central character, Martin, refers to it as "a completely collaborative effort that left no room or time for ego."

"The process is a whirlwind at its slowest and light speed at its fastest," he says. "It can be overwhelming, but you just have to trust your company to get you through."

Gallo says "Sight for Sore Eyes" is a lighter work than the theater's original work on homelessness, "Have a Seat," or "Lunch Money," its play on bullying.

"We wanted to make sure it was not heavy or gritty," she says.

Martin conveys his feelings about his condition mostly to other characters in the play, Gallo says, but also sometimes directly to the audience.

Throughout, she says, the character is trying to "lend a sense of humanity when given life-altering news."

"Playing Martin," says Rodgers, "[is] an interesting mixture of anger, self-pity and acceptance. I'm not sure I'd like him in the real world, but I sure respect him."

The ensemble cast also includes Andrea-Taylor Ward as Martin's wife, Mackenzie Young as his daughter, Dakota Brown as his best friend and Robbye Lewis as his mother. Gallo and John Thomas Cecil are co-directors for the production.

Contact Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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