Sunday, December 21, 2008
To help us further promote our mission and grow our company, Essential Theatre is actively seeking four to six new board members. Although not required, Essential Theatre hopes to find persons who fall into one or more of the following categories: An entrepreneur who has successfully started and run a small business. A person with management experience in a large corporation that may be interested in charitable giving and/or corporate sponsorship. A person well seated in the community who has contacts with community philanthropists with a history of or an interest in supporting the arts. A person with a strong experience in marketing, preferably in marketing for a non profit organization. A person with skills in Event Planning or Fundraising.
Board Members should have a passion for new plays, and are asked to attend a majority of quarterly board meetings, attend company productions, support the company with a financial contribution and help the company with fund raising activities. As always, Essential is an equal opportunity organization and seeks Board Members without regard to sex, race, creed or sexual orientation. Anyone interested in becoming one of the newest Board Members of Essential Theatre should forward their resume to Artistic Director, Peter Hardy at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you know of any qualified person who may be interested in serving in this capacity, please forward this notice to them.
The story of JIM CROW AND THE RHYTHM DARLINGS centers on the members of an all-female jazz band, touring through the Deep Sou th during World War Two. The musicians are all African-American except for one Jewish woman, who has to disguise herself to fit in with the rest of the group, at a time when "mixed-race" bands weren't tolerated anywhere in the United States. (This was also a time when women weren't commonly accepted into the all-male world of jazz music.)
With the most submissions we've ever received, it was exceptionally difficult to make our final decision this year. The Essential Theatre would like to thank all the playwrights who sent us their work, and we'll be doing our best to contact each of them individually.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Seamus Monaghan - Alex Van
Padraic McCarry - Peter Hardy
Paddy Kearney - Kate Graham
Seamey Monaghan - Nick Arapoglou
Stage Directions - Kelly Young
2009 Power Plays Festival Update Essential Theatre is proud to announce that the 11th Annual Power Plays Festival will be held July 2009 at Actor's Express. This space can accomodate our growing audiences and offers free parking. More details will be shared as they become available. More information about the Playwriting Award Winner and other fesitval plays will be released soon.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Daphne Mintz's romantic drama, In Lieu of Flowers, asks many questions about love and commitment and the possible moral ambiguities inherent in both.
"A touching story immersed in a small community. Obviously a writer who understands that loving her characters without judgment is important." -- Celise Kalke.
"I really like the mix of humor and heartache, and the earthiness of the characters -- I appreciate their frankness at times..." -- Caleb Boyd.
"In Lieu of Flowers is a beautiful meditation on love and our attempts to find it, keep it, and cope when it is gone. Daphne's funny and touching play allows us to see that family and relationships are like flowers -- diverse, colorful, and filled with hidden meanings." -- (director) Betty Hart
I truly love this script and think Daphne is a talent on the rise. I also think that, while it's still got some room to grow, it's one of the best scripts WTP has ever produced and I am quite proud of that.
WTP is a changed and changing organism. We now have 52 members - unbelievable! - and most of those new members are younger, about half of them African-American, and a little more than half female. What's most exciting to me about this growth is that these younger, culturally diverse writers are writing and with a purpose.
I hope to see you at either reading -- the cast includes LaParee Young, Lorilyn Harper, Will Cobbs, Eugene Russell with narration by Emmy-award nominated writer / spoken word poet Jon Goode.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Leading Actor, Play:
Spencer G. Stephens – "Man" – Fix Me So I Can Stand - The Essential Theatre
Leading Actress, Play:
Johanna Linden – "Mrs. Bob Cratchit" – Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge - The Essential Theatre
Major Supporting Actor, Play:
Bobby Labartino – "Fezziwig, etc" – Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge - The Essential Theatre
Major Supporting Actress, Play:
Sarah Falkenburg – "Little Nell, etc" – Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge - The Essential Theatre
Costume Design, Play:
Jane Kroesig – Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge - The Essential Theatre
Lighting Design, Play:
Greg Hanthorn – Fix Me So I Can Stand - The Essential Theatre
Greg Hanthorn – Night Travels - The Essential Theatre
Sound Design, Play:
Spencer G. Stephens – Night Travels - The Essential Theatre
"Fix Me So I Can Stand" by Jean Sterrett - The Essential Theatre
"Night Travels" by Ellen McQueen, Karen Wurl, & Charlotte Fleck Travels - The Essential Theatre
Moira Thornett Director's Award, Play:
Peter Hardy – Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge - The Essential Theatre
Dina Shadwell – Fix Me So I Can Stand - The Essential Theatre
Ellen McQueen – Night Travels - The Essential Theatre
Overall Performance of a Play:
"Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge" - The Essential Theatre
"Fix Me So I Can Stand" - The Essential Theatre
You can also see the nominees or find out about the Award Ceremony by going to www.matawards.com for more information.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
I've just come home from opening night of "Valhalla," the first play in the Essential Theatre Power Plays Festival. Script, direction, cast and crew -- all were great. I loved every moment and encourage all to catch it! For a sneak peak of the production, as wells as show dates and times, go to http://www.essentialtheatre.com/
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
In the past ten years we’ve also produced new plays by Georgia writers such as Karen Wurl, Karla Jennngs, Bill Gibson, Karen Page, Valetta Anderson, Ellen McQueen and Jean Sterrett. Since we premiered it in the Essential Theatre’s 2006 Power Plays Festival, Larry Larson and Eddie Levi Lee’s CHARM SCHOOL has gone on to a successful production at Atlanta’s Horizon Theatre, and will next be seen at the Springer Opera House in Columbus, Georgia.
When we started producing these annual festivals in 1999, it seemed to us that the best way for us to help Georgia writers was to give their plays a full production, rather than the staged readings which were pretty commonplace back then. I’m a playwright myself, and I’ve had productions and workshops and staged readings of my plays done all over the country – and there’s no question in my mind that you can learn more about a play from a full-out production than from even the best-intentioned reading. The set, the lights, the costumes, the (rehearsed!) actors, the audience – they’re all vital to the theatre experience, and to the fulfillment of the playwright’s vision.
But you can’t produce every play of promise that comes your way – at least, we can’t, not right now. So, when interesting plays were submitted to the contest but failed to win the prize, we’ve tried to offer some development help to the writers – not as often as we’d have liked to, but we’re hoping to increase our efforts in that area.
For a few years we’d present staged readings on dark nights of the Essential Festival. More recently we’ve taken a new approach – getting the playwright together with a group of actors, in a private setting, to read and discuss the play. A great deal of care goes into the selection of the actors for these readings – I think that the wrong group of actors can do a playwright more harm than good , leading them to think something’s wrong with the play, when it’s really the actors who are the problem. But when the right actors -- not just talented, but well-cast -- are reading a script, the playwright can get a much better idea what’s working and what isn’t. When the readers are bringing your work to life, making your words sound like everything you wanted and more – and then they come to a passage they just can’t make work, chances are you’ve got some rewriting to do.
After these sessions, we encourage the playwright to do whatever revisions they want to – and then, after a while, we get them together with another group of actors to read the play again. (Sometimes the same actors, sometimes not.) And if that seems to go well, we’ll probably try to put together a staged public reading, to bring an audience into the equation.
That’s the process we went through with APRIL 10, 1535, a play by Cheryldee Huddleston of Athens, culminating in a public reading at the Stage Door Players space in Dunwoody, in the winter of 2006. We also went through that two-reading process with WEST OF EDEN by Atlanta’s Letitia Sweitzer – but by the time of the second reading, the play (through some very simple and minor changes) had been improved so greatly that it was chosen for the 2008 Playwriting Award.
We’ll be presenting its World Premiere in our 2008 Power Plays Festival, running in the Backstage Theatre at 7 Stages from June 27-July 27 this summer. Other shows in the Festival will be the Regional Premieres of Paul Rudnick’s historical comedy, VALHALLA, and Gina Gionfriddo’s drama AFTER ASHLEY. It’s always our policy to present our World Premieres by Georgia playwrights alongside the work of more nationally established authors, on an equal footing.
Just recently we had our first development workshop meeting with Atlanta’s Pamela Turner, reading her play ME OWN PERSONAL HERO. This Ireland-set drama had already gone through some productive workshopping at Marietta’s Theatre in the Square and other places, but the playwright seemed to find our session with her both helpful and encouraging, and she’s planning to rewrite. We look forward to meeting with her again and seeing what she’s done.
Coming up soon we’ll be having our second read-and-discuss with Glen Slattery on his play THE LEAST-LOVED NAZI, a dark fantasy-comedy set in the aftermath of the collapse of the Third Reich. We had our first reading of the play this past November, which was the last time I saw our dear friend Johanna Linden, who played the title role in the Essential’s 2007 production of Christopher Durang’s MRS. BOB CRATCHIT’S WILD CHRISTMAS BINGE. Johanna passed away a couple of months ago, and the 2008 Power Plays Festival will be dedicated to her memory. I’m pretty sure she was the one who encouraged Glen to bring his play to us in the first place.
The submission deadline for the 2009 Playwriting Award competition was April 23 of this year. (Shakespeare’s Birthday, and that’s going to be our entry deadline every year.) Over 40 scripts were submitted – the most we’ve ever received! It’s going to be a busy year –
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
After raising four children, I took up writing as a career, freelancing for magazines, and then writing nonfiction books with experts. In 2000, the Village Writers Group had a rather new ten-minute play contest, and they were encouraging people to enter. I’d never done a play. However, I had loved plays since childhood. I thought maybe I could do this. My little comedy about Adam, Eve, and their third son Seth won the contest, and one of the judges said I should expand it and send it to her theatre. I couldn’t see how to expand it, at first, and more than one person very experienced in theatre advised me not to.
Nevertheless, with the promise of a theatre actually inviting me to submit and presumably willing to read it, I expanded the play to a one-act and changed the name because the original name didn’t make sense in the new version. The one-act was given a minor prize and a reading. I kept expanding it to include new ideas and characters, including the Serpent, until it was full length. I sent it to the artistic director where the judge had invited me to submit and it was promptly rejected as “not the kind of play we produce.” The value of the invitation was that without it, I wouldn’t have written the play. The value of the rejection was that Eden is a much better play now.
Working Title Playwrights, a dynamic, supportive organization, based in Decatur, gave West of Eden two staged readings at different stages of rewrite. Finally, Essential Theatre’s Peter Hardy read it as an entry in Essential’s playwriting competition for Georgia playwrights. He wanted to workshop it, so we had private readings, after which Peter pointed out important improvements I could make, smallish things, you might think if I told you, that made a huge difference. Once I got those straightened out, the play was ready to go. As I write, we have not begun rehearsals and I expect there will be small changes in the dialogue as we go along. If it sounds too wordy in the mouths of the talented actors we’ve engaged, we’ll cut a few out, words, not actors. If an actor doesn’t quite understand a certain point, chances are the audience won’t either, so we’ll make a change there. I am happy to be in flux for a few more weeks after eight years of development!
Letitia Sweitzer, playwright
Why I chose Adam and Eve as a topic in my next post….
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Tuesday, July 8, 8:00pm PWYC
Wednesday, July 9, 8:00pm
Saturday, July 12, 8:00pm
Sunday, July 13, 7:00pm talkback
Tuesday, July 15, 8:00pm PWYC
Thursday, July 17, 8:00pm
Saturday, July 19, 8:00pm
Sunday, July 20, 2:00pm sold out
Wednesday, July 23, 8:00pm
Thursday, July 24, 8:00pm
Saturday, July 26, 2:00pm sold out
Sunday, July 27, 7:00pm
Friday, June 27, 8:00pm
Saturday, June 28, 8:00pm
Sunday, June 29, 7:00pm
Saturday, July 5, 8:00pm
Thursday, July 10, 8:00pm
Sunday, July 13, 2:00pm
Monday, July 14, 8:00pm
Saturday, July 19, 2:00pm
Sunday, July 20, 7:00pm
Tuesday, July 22, 8:00pm PWYC
Friday, July 25, 8:00pm
Sunday, July 27, 2:00pm
Wednesday, July 2, 8:00pm
Thursday, July 3. 8:00pm
Sunday, July 6, 7:00pm
Friday, July 11, 8:00pm
Saturday, July 12, 2:00pm
Wednesday, July 16, 8:00pm
Friday, July 18, 8:00pm
Monday, July 21, 8:00pm
Saturday, July 26, 8:00pm
Fri and Sat;
ONLINE: $20 adults and $15 (senior/student discounts)
AT THE DOOR: $22 adults & $18 (senior/student discounts)
Mon, Weds, Thurs and Sun: (discounts are not available on weeknights or Sunday)
AT THE DOOR: $18
Tuesday PAY WHAT YOU CAN;
Every Tuesday evening is PAY WHAT YOU CAN at the door.
For Calendar Listings
Box Office: 877-840-0457 or buy tickets online and save
7 Stages Backstage,
Saturday, April 19, 2008
The Essential Theatre has formed an advisory panel to insure we have access to a variety of artistic voices. Advisory board members are asked to suggest new works, assist reading new plays, suggest talented actors for our productions and to inform their friends and acquaintances of our activities. An advisory panel reception is planned as part of the 2008 Power Plays Festival.
- Rosemary Newcott (Artistic Director of Theatre for Youth at the Alliance Theatre, Actress).
- Phillip DePoy (Playwright, Novelist, Musician, Actor, Director, Head of Drama Department at
College). Clayton State
- Valetta Anderson (Resident Teaching Artist with the Alliance Theatre Institute for Educators and Teaching Artists, Playwright). .
- Morgan Timmis (Historic and Cultural Affairs Manager for the City of
; Actress). Roswell
- Ann Wilson (Director of Development, Horizon Theatre; Actress).
- Jill Patrick (Managing Director of Working Title Playwrights Group).
- Ellen McQueen (Director, Actress, Playwright).
- Suehyla El-Attar (Actress, Playwright).
- Bill Gibson (Playwright,
Playwriting Award Winner). Essential
- Karla Jennings (Playwright).
- Lee Nowell (Director, Actress, Playwright).
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Johanna was a fine, intelligent, skillful actress who was also a lovely person and a dream to work with. Atlanta audiences saw her perform with the Academy Theatre, Seven Stages, Theatre Gael, Actor's Express, Soulstice Repertory and other companies, and we were privileged to have her work with us in MISS MACBETH and, just last summer, playing the title role in MRS. BOB CRATCHIT'S WILD CHRISTMAS BINGE. In November she took part in one of our play development reading workshops and, as always, she was at the top of her game, bringing insight and illumination to that process. We'll all miss her.