Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati
The Tri-State is home to many fascinating facts, offbeat oddities and "I did not know that" moments. With that in mind, WCPO asks "Who Knew?"
Audiences can be assured of seeing something never before seen in Cincinnati at Ensemble Theatre. The professional company only presents new shows.
Now in its 28th season, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati established itself in Over-the-Rhine intentionally to help transform and anchor the area.
The theater's mission statement contains the "social conscience," highlighting the organization's quest to present works that embrace controversial, risk-taking themes that are relevant to the Tri-State.
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Founded in 1986, Ensemble Theatre in Over-the-Rhine began as a grand vision and hope that an arts organization establishing itself in a traditionally troubled neighborhood could transform and anchor the area. By offering a unique experience both on stage and in the environment of the theatre itself, Ensemble has evolved into its 28th season by hiring local actors and constructing visually stunning sets.
Q&A with D. Lynn Meyers, producing artistic director, for Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati
1. How did Ensemble Theatre originate?
Ensemble Theatre is actually the second largest professional theater in Cincinnati, but we only do new theatre. That means our shows have never before been seen locally. The first two seasons were performed at Memorial Hall. Then the organization acquired the building at 1127 Vine St. and moved in and started performing in 1988. Great attention was paid to preserving the character of the original building and working to establish a performance space that was accessible with great sight lines from every seat. 2. Over-the-Rhine is known for its historic buildings. Does yours have a story?
The building was originally built in 1904 as a German Bank (one of many in a predominately German immigrant neighborhood). The original bank vault is now the backstage area with very thick walls. If you look up when you're in the theatre, you can still see the original architectural features that would have been consistent with a bank's construction. Later on, the building became an Italian Consulate and then most recently Otto Printing Press before it was converted into a theatre. 3. If the backstage area is a bank vault, where do you make your props?
Sets are designed and then the construction happens in our neighboring building at 1117 Vine St. Because of the nature of the theater and the tight turnaround between shows, everything is built in pieces next door, then brought through a set of standard double doors and put together. It's like a jigsaw puzzle. As one show is being performed, the next one is being sketched and built next door.
4. What were some of the first shows Ensemble performed?
Prior to 1997, ETC did do some classic works in addition to new plays by local playwrights. It wasn't until D. Lynn Meyers arrived that the theater's mission was sharpened to be all new works. In those first few years, some productions included “Something Cloudy, Something Clear,” “Checkers,” “American Gothic” and then classics like “End Game,” “Romeo & Juliet,” “Taming of the Shrew” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.” 5. What are two little-known facts about Ensemble?
For more about Ensemble Theatre, including the season’s shows, visit the website at http://www.ensemblecincinnati.org/
Check back next Tuesday for another edition of "Who Knew?" If you have an tip, idea or question email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Connect with WCPO Contributor Paige E. Malott on Twitter: @Paigetastic01 , and check out her blog CincyWhimsy.com .