Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gabriel Dean ~ 2010 Playwriting Award Winner

2010 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award Winner

The Essential Theatre is proud to announce that the winner of the 2010 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award competition is Gabriel Dean's Qualities of Starlight, a modern southern family comedy. Gabriel Dean has been working for some years on the Atlanta scene as an actor and playwright, and is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in the Playwriting Program at the University of Texas in Austin. His play Buy My House - Please! recently ran at the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville. Mr. Dean will receive a cash prize of $600.00 and Qualities of Starlight will be produced as part of the 2010 Essential Theatre Play Festival, running at the Actor's Express space in July and August.

Qualities of Starlight
by Gabriel Dean, directed by Peter Hardy
The World Premiere of a twisted family comedy about a successful young astronomer who brings his wife home to the north Georgia mountains and the simple country household in which he grew up. And where his parents are now addicted to crystal meth. Winner of the 2010 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award.

Interview with Playwright Gabriel Dean
Please post your comments, rate Gabriel's comments with a few stars, select Essential Theatre as a channel favorite and subscribe to view upcoming production trailers.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Win an Essential Theatre STAYCATION Package

Win an Essential Theatre STAYCATION Package
including one night stay for two at Marietta's
Whitlock Inn as well as two tickets to a
performance at Theatre-In-The-Square.

Just fill in this brief survey and you will be entered to win. Make a Donation and you double your chances.


Whitlock Inn
Come rock on the porch while you soak up some Southern charm. This cherished Victorian bed & breakfast is in a National Register Historic District, one block from the Marietta Square and 20 miles from Atlanta. This mansion has been crowned "the jewel of Marietta" and each of the five guest rooms has a distinctive personality. The Whitlock offers a daily continental breakfast and afternoon snack to guests.

Theatre In The Square
Gutsy…grand-slam production…seasoned professionalism…powerhouse performance…well-tuned ensemble…likely to be the season’s most talked about production…rich, rewarding and insightful evening of theatre...
Just be sure and buckle up!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

December 16 Free Night of Theatre

JIM CROW AND THE RHYTHM DARLINGS by Vynnie Meli, directed by Betty Hart

RETURNING TO THE STAGE FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY

DECEMBER 16th 7pm, Admission is FREE

New Mercies Christian Church, 4000 Five Forks Trickum Rd, Lilburn, GA 30047
World Premiere

Actors: Rachel Bodenstein, Enisha Brewster, Daniel Burnley, DeAndrea Crawford, Nadir Mateen, Delesa Sims
It’s World War Two, and with so many men going off to serve, the previously all-male world of jazz is opening up to women for the first time. The International Rhythm Darlings are an all-female African-American band touring the Deep South, which would be a tough situation in the best of times … but now they’ve got a last-minute replacement in the group, a white Jewish woman, and integrated bands aren’t allowed to play together on stage. Not in the South, not anywhere.

Inspired by the real-life experiences of musicians from that era, Vynnie Meli’s play takes a fascinating look at some extraordinary women who make their way past fear and hatred to find the common threads that bind them together. Winner of the 2009 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award competition, the only prize exclusively dedicated to the work of Georgia playwrights. The Essential Theatre is proud to have developed this play (along with Working Title Playwrights, Jewish Theatre of the South and the Alliance Theatre playwriting class) and to be bringing it to the stage for the first time.

If you enjoy this performance, please visit us online and help support our mission.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Essential Theatre is a recipient of a Google Grant award.

The Google Grants program supports organizations sharing Google's philosophy of community service to help the world in areas such as science and technology, education, global public health, the environment, youth advocacy, and the arts.

Designed for 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, Google Grants is a unique in-kind advertising program harnessing the power of Google AdWords advertising product. Google Grants has awarded AdWords advertising to hundreds of non-profit groups whose missions range from animal welfare to literacy, from supporting homeless children to promoting HIV education.

Invest in Our Success

Over the past twelve years, the Essential Theatre has become a leading voice in the support and development of new plays by Georgia writers. Our annual Essential Theatre Playwriting Award is the only competition of its kind, exclusively dedicated to the work of playwrights from the Peach State. Along with a cash prize, the winner gets to see his or her play given a World Premiere production in the Essential Theatre Festival, along with Regional Premieres by such nationally acclaimed authors as Sam Shepard, Christopher Durang, Paula Vogel and Lanford Wilson.

Here's an added incentive for you to support us with a donation prior to the end of the year. Essential Theatre has been chosen to participate in Google Grants Programs and will waive processing fees for online donations to Essential through the end of the year. This means that the entire amount of your gift will go to support our operations. So, be sure to give before December 31 and win twice, a tax deduction for 2009 and the full amount of your investment in helps us produce great new plays at Essential Theatre. Click here to learn about donation incentives. You win, We win, We all win...

Please scroll down to make a donation

















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Sunday, October 25, 2009

2010 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award Winner

The Essential Theatre is proud to announce that the winner of the 2010 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award competition is Gabriel Dean’s Qualities of Starlight, a modern southern family comedy. Gabriel Dean has been working for some years on the Atlanta scene as an actor and playwright, and is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in the Playwriting Program at the University of Texas in Austin. His play Buy My House – Please! Is currently running at the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville. Mr. Dean will receive a cash prize of $600.00 and Qualities of Starlight will be produced as part of the 2010 Essential Theatre Play Festival, running at the Actor’s Express space in July and August of next year.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Food for Fish & Cats & Dogs & save $5.

Bring a can or unopened bag of dog or cat food to Essential Theatre's production's of ICE GLEN, FOOD FOR FISH or JIM CROW & THE RHYTHM DARLINGS this weekend and save $5 off the adult ticket price. Collections will be distributed to the Atlanta Humane Society and Pet Rescue.

The 11th Annual Essential Theatre Festival closes this weekend, so don't miss out. And, please no FISH FOOD, we've got that covered already.

Want to know which show performs when? Click here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

People are talking about Ice Glen by Joan Ackerman

video

ICE GLEN by Joan Ackermann
Beautifully written, masterfully delicate direction by Ellen McQueen, precise, delightful and surprising performances all round. Go see it.” Joanna Daniel

“ICE GLEN is both one of the best scripts and best overall productions I've seen in the nine years I've been in Atlanta, and Ellen's direction is flawlessly nuanced. A true "must-see."" Evan Guilford-Blake

"It’s one of the best shows in Atlanta this year!” Leonard Pallats

Sunday, July 19, 2009

People are talking about "Jim Crow...."

video


WMLB Voice of the Arts' Larry Larson interviews playwright Vynnie Meli & director Betty Hart


And, In Print

“Directed by Betty Hart, Jim Crow & The Rhythm Darlings truly captures the love of jazz … the dialogue is quick paced and smart, the issues are diverse, and the acting is powerful. Not every day do you come across an intelligent play that explores gender roles, racism, and religion. Jim Crow & The Rhythm Darlings is a harmonious blend of talent, music, and discussion. Definitely a must see.” Kelechi Ubozoh, Atlanta Theatre Examiner

“Playwright Vynnie Meli’s Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings draws from a seemingly bottomless wellspring of drama. Director Betty Hart builds to some undeniably gripping confrontations … Essential Theatre offers an affecting homage to some of the unsung women of jazz.” Curt Holman, Creative Loafing

Thursday, July 16, 2009

FOOD FOR FISH: It's a wild strange trip....one smart play....compelling

“Following its tradition of introducing Atlanta to some of the edgier plays around, Essential Theatre opened its annual summer festival with FOOD FOR FISH, a lively take on Chekhov’s THREE SISTERS by rising playwright Adam Szymkowicz … One smart play …dark, droll dialogue … it’s a wild, strange trip, full of black humor, and something to really challenge the mind.” read the entire review James Paulk, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“This play by the brilliant young playwright, Adam Szymkowicz, is one strange work of art … it is compelling, humorous, and I would give it a 9 on the proverbial scale.” Robert Heller, Publisher's Feature Service

Playwright Steve Yockey "strongly suggests that folks in Atlanta check out the whimsically dark, touching and intoxicatingly performed production of Adam Szymkowicz's "Food for Fish" at Essential Theatre."

Audience comments:

video

Friday, July 10, 2009

ICE GLEN opens tonight

Two things have been running through my head like a song, since I've been working on this play, ICE GLEN. One is a line from a song that a friend wrote: "We're all gonna live like people in a book." The other is from OUR TOWN, when Emily asks the Stage Manager (I'm paraphrasing here) "Do human beings ever realize how beautiful life is, every minute?" and he says, "The poets and the saints, some."

ICE GLEN is about being truly alive in the place where you belong. About being in that special place, inside and outside yourself (in the woods, or in a poem, or in a circle of people you love) where, if there's a frozen part of your heart because once something hurt too much for you to feel it, you can allow the ice to melt and come to life. Of course, there is an element of danger to being truly alive. When parts that have been too cold for too long warm up, they burn. But one of the surprises, when you open and feel, is how much fun and laughter you find where you feared to find only pain. There's a lot of fun and laughter in ICE GLEN. And we've all laughed a lot working and playing in this production.

The theatre has always been the place for me where the ice melts and the heart comes to life, and I find it happening again with this lovely play.
Ellen McQueen

Examiner.com: Jim Crow and The Rhythm Darlings


Jim Crow and The Rhythm Darlings

What do you get when you combine a forties all-girl black jazz band with one Jewish member, and stir it up with a tour through the Jim Crow South? You get a recipe for disaster, but more importantly discovery. It's 1943...

To read the rest of this article, please click on the link below:

http://www.examiner.com/x-5055-Atlanta-Theater-Examiner~y2009m7d9-Jim-Crow-and-The-Rhythm-Darlings?cid=email-this-article

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Become a Facebook Fan

The influence of Facebook in marketing the theatre continues to growth indicatinges how social media continues to enhance and re-define the way arts organizations reach out to audiences.

When we reach a fan base of 1,000, Facebook provides a series of advanced tools and analytics that will enhance our ability to reach those interested in theatre. We can easily achieve this by encouraging our friends on to Become a Fan on Facebook and recommend us to their friends. When you access our page you will see a list of options below the logo on the left. One is “Suggest to Friends.” When you click on this link a box with all of your friends’ photos opens. Simply click on the individuals you believe would be interested in the theatre (local residents, patrons of the arts, etc.). If they’re already a fan of ours their photo will be grayed out, so you’ll know by sight who is already with us. They will get an update from you suggesting they join us. It’s that simple. It’s a very soft ask that can make a huge difference in building relationships in time for the new season.

Clickon on the "Become a Fan" button then follow the link below to suggest that your friends join us. Thanks



Here’s a link to our page: EssentialTheatre Facebook Page and while your at it, please become a fan of Actors Express if you have not already done so.

If you’re not on Facebook and would like to be, please let me know and we’ll help you get started.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

JC Reilly, one of the Georgia Poetry Society members who will be participating in a poetry reading at 7pm on Saturday July 25th prior to the 8pm "Ice Glen" performance. JC would like to offer this poem for your consideration. We hope you will come a bit early to hear JC's poetry and the work of other GPS members.

    Fall, Star City by JC Reilly

    The blush has crept into the leaves,
    as sunshine, sanguine with the months
    of growing, cools its fire. The light
    that we get now is maizy, saturates

    everything with extract of gold, even
    the dogged verdigris of the Sower
    filling his bag, even the blacks
    of shadow and pavement.

    Mornings crisp, like new apples,
    glow with that rich, amber sheen,
    warm only in its hue. Along 13th,
    the maples and Bradford pears leaning

    over the walks, buckled with roots,
    gleam too, their discarded leaves
    like frenzied handprints. You could say
    that autumn in Lincoln is tumult

    gilded by late September sun, the leaves
    stabs of color in over-yellowed air,
    so much yellow concentrated here
    that spectrums everywhere else are bereft.

(previously published in
Stones Throw Magazine: http://www.stonesthrowmagazine.com/pdf/fall.star.city.reilly.pdf)

JC Reilly wishes everything could be written as a poem, including editorials, cereal ads, and weather reports. She is a displaced Louisiana poet living in Atlanta, with two strange cats and a quirky Socialist husband. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in the
Xavier Review, the Arkansas Review, Cider Press Review, and three online journals, Ouroboros Review, Sweet: a Literary Confection, and Stone’s Throw Magazine.

National Black Arts Festival Around Town

We are proud to announce that the Essential Theatre performance of Vynnie Meli's "Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings" is to be presented during the National Black Arts Festival. For more information about National Black Arts Festival Around Town, click here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dexter Speaks Out

Sarah Falkenburg Wallace – Dexter (Food for Fish)
This is the fourth Festival I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in. I have always enjoyed being a part of the festival and have played a voice in the attic, a murderous college student, & a girl who turned into a horse. However, simply being cast as a man has turned into one of the most challenging roles of my acting career. I have enjoyed the process as one of the most truly involved roles I’ve worked to create since Dexter is the complete opposite of me in every way. I have enjoyed really observing and attempting to mimic the posture and movements associated with the male gender. I have also become very aware of how physically expressive I am naturally, which of course Dexter is not, so that has created it’s own challenge in itself. I have enjoyed working to embody and create the role of Dexter. I would like to thank Peter for allowing me this opportunity to grow as an actor and to continue to learn new things in this amazing craft.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Friday, July 3, 2009

Guest Poetry Readers

Come support our guest poetry readers as they share a brief selection before selected performances.
  • Flora Maria Garcia, Executive Director MACC July 10 8pm
  • Jeff Watkins, Artistic Director, Shakespeare Tavern, July 12 7pm
  • Bob Farley, Artistic Director, Georgia Ensemble July 20th 8pm
  • Georgia Poetry Society July 25th begins at 7pm
  • Charles Green, Fulton County Arts Council/Sunrise Bank. July 26th 7pm
  • Phillip Depoy, Clayton State, Drama Dept. Chair, July 31 8pm.

Food for Fish: "I wanted to direct it"

As soon as I started reading Adam Szymkowicz’s FOOD FOR FISH, I knew that I wanted to include it in the 2009 Essential Theatre Play Festival, and that I wanted to direct it. I’m not sure I could have articulated why I felt this way, except that found the script to be funny and weird and beautiful (a combination that I always like). There’s a lot of stuff in it about writing, which I’m drawn to, and it also looks at the differences between the way we often try to idealize ourselves into fantasy relationships, instead of dealing with the reality of the people we get close to (another fascination of mine, although it took me longer to recognize how important a part of the play this was.)

So, I didn’t start out the rehearsal process with a firm, fixed concept in mind – I told the cast that I responded to the play intuitively, not analytically, and that I could always explain why I felt that some things should be pla yed a certain way, and that they were all very much the right people for their parts. As a result, our rehearsals have been an evolving series of explorations and discoveries, with some ideas taken up and discarded, and new ones rising up to take their place.

I had the pleasure of meeting the playwright a few weeks ago, and he told me that the play had been written fairly quickly and then produced -- having gone through almost no development process. This didn’t surprise me, and I think he was lucky to have had things go that way – this is the kind of script that the group discussions and second-guessing of most development processes could not much help, and would probably hurt. This is not to say that many plays aren’t helped by such processes – I hope that the development work done by the Essential Theatre with some new plays, over the years, has been good for their writers. But, sometimes, it’s better to go with a writer’s unbridled, unchecked impulses.

What kind of play is FOOD FOR FISH? It’s a comedy, that’s often sad – rather like Chekhov. Which isn’t a haphazard reference – the play is full of Chekhov motifs, from the three sisters who long to return home to New Jersey, to the tormented young writer who throws a dead pigeon at the feet of his lady love. It’s also like a dream play, full of connections that work on the subliminal level rather than in the dramaturgical manner of a well-made play.

Men play women, sometimes, and vice-versa, all the while their characters are trying to figure out why people fall in love, and what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman. When you’ve got a male character -- played by an actress, saying that he’s trying to figure out how men should behave -- it throws our whole notions of “how things are supposed to be” into a new, revealing and comic perspective. To the writer’s credit, he doesn’t just play this for laughs – he gives us insights into the ways we trap ourselves by trying to live up to the fantasies we see on television, and read in magazines – rather than trying to understand who we truly are, and how our realities can relate to one another.

I couldn’t ask for a better cast. I’ve worked with all of them before, which makes for a trust that you need when you’re delving into such original and unusual material.

Sylvia, the youngest sister, is played by Kate Graham, who dazzled everybody playing Sally the Homecoming Queen and Princess Sophia the Hunchback in our production of Paul Rudnick’s VALHALLA last summer.&nb sp; Since then she’s appeared in BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS at the Center Theatre, and she’s also the star of the cult horror-comedy film Poultrygeist – the Night of the Living Chicken. Check it out!

Alice, the middle sister, is played by Dad’s Garage favorite Eve Krueger, while Barbara, the oldest, is played by Charles Swint. I’ve known Charles for years, and directed him as Adam in our production of THE MOST FABULOUS STORY EVER TOLD a few years back (but he keeps his clothes on, this time – even if they’re mostly women’s clothes). He also appeared in our hit production of THE BOOK OF LIZ
(named one of the year’s best shows by the AJC).

The oldest sister’s husband is played by Sarah Falkenburg Wallace, who was nominated for a M etropolitan Atlanta Theatre Award for her performance in the Essential’s MRS. BOB CRATCHIT’S WILD CHRISTMAS BINGE, and played the title role in our World Premiere of Karen Wurl’s MISS MACBETH (which the AJC called “a doozy of a backstage farce … a delightful laugh-bath”). Having two skillful comic performers like Sarah and Charles play husband and wife (but with the genders reversed) is inherently funny … but not campy. We’ve been going for the heart of these characters, and have found that the more real we can make them, the funnier they are.
Brent Nicholas Rose plays the kissing-bandit-writer, coming of a year where he's worked with Synchronicity Performance Group and Dad’s Garage. Last summer he played the lead role in our Regional Premiere of Gina Gionfriddo’s AFTER ASHLEY, which has been nominated as Best Production of a Play by the Metropolitan Atlanta Theatre Awards. Rounding out the cast is Kelly Criss, having a great time playing (at last count) eleven different characters – both male and female. You may have seen her in THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED at Theatre In the Square’s Alley Stage.

We open up July 5, at Actor’s Express, and there’ll be eight performances between then and August 1. Check out our website at
http://www.essentialtheatre.com/ for information and scheduling. Hope you’ll come see us!
Peter

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Volunteer Ushers: only a few dates remain open

Essential Theatre appreciates its' volunteer ushers. We have a few remaining opportunities to participate as an usher and great new theatre. These dates are still available. Please email us Essential AT ivf.com if you wish to usher on any of the dates listed below.

    7/11 7:15 pm Food for Fish
    7/18 7:15 pm Jim Crow
    7/19 1:15 pm Jim Crow
    7/19 6:15pm Food for Fish
    7/25 1:15 pm Jim Crow
    7/26 6:15pm Ice Glen
    7/29 7:15 pm Ice Glen
    7/30 7:15pm Jim Crow
    7/31 7:15pm Ice Glen
    8/1 1:15pm Jim Crow
    8/1 7:15 pm Food for Fish
    8/2 1:15pm Jim Crow

Monday, June 22, 2009

Essential Theatre Video Previews

Check out our behind the scenes HDTV video trailers shot during rehearsals shot and edited by Dany Nieves


Food for Fish


Ice Glen


Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings

From Artistic Director Peter Hardy

I came to Atlanta in the fall of 1986, hired by the late Michael Horne to direct a Wendy Wasserstein comedy called Isn’t It Romantic at Theatre in the Square, and then sticking around to perform in the Horizon Theatre’s Christmas production of Alan Ayckbourn’s Season’s Greetings. By that time, I’d decided to stay. In 1987 I was acting in another comedy at the Horizon, Christopher Durang’s The Marriage of Bette and Boo, but already I was wanting to make my own productions happen, and in the fall of ’87 I produced and directed the first Essential Theatre show – two ghost story one-acts by John Pielmeier (author of Agnes of God), featuring Scott Higgs and Bill Murphey (two fine local actors that I’m still friends with today) and a lady named Elin Zimmerman, who came down from New York just to do the show.

Over the next ten years I continued to free-lance with other companies, directing three of the first four productions ever done in Theatre In the Square’s Alley Stage space (we opened that place up with a comedy by local writer Karen Wurl, who I’ve gone on to work with several times since). In the summers I directed the outdoor drama Unto These Hills in Cherokee, North Carolina, working there with many talented people from the Atlanta theatre scene, and I also continued to produce and direct occasional productions with the Essential Theatre: Vinegar Tom and They Dance Real Slow In Jackson and Wandering Desires at the Horizon space; Down the Road at the 14th Street Playhouse; Cinders and A Child Shall Lead at 7 Stages; and my own play Lubricant at a place called the Atlanta Dream Hostel. (Lubricant finally got a New York production last year.)

Some of these productions got good audiences and good reviews, but mostly we were doing new scripts – World Premieres or Regional Premieres – and I found that when you're doing plays that no one has heard of, by a company that no one’s heard of, and you’re only producing once every year or so, and you’re usually performing in a different space than where you were the last time – you tend to fall through the cracks. We got great reviews for Down the Road from the AJC, Creative Loafing and WABE (which was doing theatre reviews back then), but three years later none of them bothered to come see A Child Shall Lead at 7 Stages. This was a beautiful, epic play about the Children’s Crusade, written by my friend Charlotte Fleck (originally from Spartanburg, South Carolina and now in New York City) and featuring a stunning performance by Laurie Beasley. In 2007, both these ladies finally got some of the critical praise they deserve for their work in our production of Night Travels.

Anyway, back in the late 90’s, I was wondering if I should keep trying to make my own theatre happen. I didn’t want to be producing year-round, and I didn’t want to do the kind of “audience-friendly” plays I was bored with seeing at so many other theatres in town. And that’s when the idea for the Essential Theatre Festival first came to me: Instead of doing one play no one has heard of, how about we do three plays no one has heard of? Maybe that’ll get us some more attention.

And it worked, right from the beginning. Curt Holman wrote a feature article about us for Creative Loafing in January of 1999, when we presented our first Festival at the old Push-Push Theater space. That year we did Paula Vogel’s Desdemona, Lynn Siefert’s comedy Little Egypt (recently turned into a musical, out west) and the World Premiere of Only Children by the afore-mentioned Karen Wurl. We decided that we’d produce at least one new play by a Georgia writer every year, and by 2001 that had coalesced into the idea of the Essential Theatre Playwriting Award, a state-wide competition that is still the only one of its kind. We’ve been proud and fortunate to present the World Premieres of new scripts by Georgia writers like Karla Jennings, Bill Gibson, Karen Page, Valetta Anderson, Jean Sterrett and Letitia Sweitzer.

In 2006 we did the first production of Larry Larson and Eddie Levi Lee’s Charm School, receiving critical raves and helping to pave the w ay for a larger, longer-run production by Horizon Theatre – which was so successful they revived it a year later. The play also won the Gene Gabriel Moore prize (part of the Suzi Bass Awards) for best new play produced in Atlanta.

In 2001, the Essential Theatre Playwriting Award when to 18-year-old Lauren Gunderson, a Decatur native, for her family comedy-drama Parts They Call Deep, which was a big hit for us and went on to an Off-Broadway production. Lauren’s continued to have great success, both in Atlanta and around the country, with a new play recently produced in California. Lauren writes: “The Essential Theatre has been fundamentally important for my career …every aspect of my time with them has been full of support, creativity and artistic daring. I will always credit the Essential Theatre with my early success and confidence.”

Along with our World Premieres, we’ve given Atlanta audiences their first chance to see important new work by nationally-recognized writers like Sam Shepard, Christopher Durang, Lanford Wilson, David Lindsay-Abaire, Steven Dietz, Gina Gionfriddo, and Amy and David Sedaris. The common denominator is this: Plays you’ve never seen around here before – exciting and challenging new work -- produced by artists who are doing it for love.

Perhaps my favorite show that we’ve ever done was our 2008 production of Paul Rudnick’s Valhalla -- which (among other things) was about being willing to go mad in order to create something beautiful. I can relate ...

And all that brings us up to today – and the 11th Annual Essential Theatre Play Festival, opening July 5 at Actor’s Express.

More on that soon.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Jim Crow & the Rhythm Darlings by Vynnie Meli, 2009



JIM CROW AND THE RHYTHM DARLINGS by Vynnie Meli. World Premiere. Directed by Betty Hart
Featuring: Rachel Bodenstein, Enisha Brewster, Daniel Burnley, DeAndrea Crawford, Nadir Mateen, Delesa Sims

It’s World War Two, and with so many men going off to serve, the previously all-male world of jazz is opening up to women for the first time. The International Rhythm Darlings are an all-female African-American band touring the Deep South, which would be a tough situation in the best of times … but now they’ve got a last-minute replacement in the group, a white Jewish woman, and integrated bands aren’t allowed to play together on stage. Not in the South, not anywhere. Inspired by the real-life experiences of musicians from that era, Vynnie Meli’s play takes a fascinating look at some extraordinary women who make their way past fear and hatred to find the common threads that bind them together. Winner of the 2009 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award competition.

Essential Playwright Vynnie Meli's PLAGUED at NYMF

Plagued A Love Story
Book and lyrics by Vynnie Meli [2009 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award Winner]
Music by Casey Filiaci

Congratulations are out to JIM CROW playwright Vynnie Meli. Her musical, PLAGUED will be part of this year's prestigious New York Music Theatre Festival. Well done Vynnie. You can see her play JIM CROW AND THE RHYTHM DARLINGS as part of this year's Essential Theatre Festival.
Cinderella celebrates her 20th anniversary to a man who isn’t always so charming. And Cinderella’s daughter, Dust Bunny, takes on an even greater challenge: the Bubonic Plague. Dust Bunny has to say goodbye to the handsome chronicler, and any chance of finding a cure, when her Queen Grandmother forces her to marry a rich old Prince. Fairy Godmother comes out of retirement in sunny south Florida to convince Dust Bunny she doesn’t have to wait for someone else to turn her life into a fairy tale. The princess uses a little ingenuity to defy the Queen, get the boy, and save the world.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ice Glen and Poetry Reading, July 25th 7pm.

The Essential Theatre is pleased to announce that the Georgia Poetry Society will be holding a poetry reading July 25th at 7 pm prior to the 8pm performance of Ice Glen by Joan Ackermann. Your ticket for Ice Glen will serve as admission to both events.

The Georgia Poetry Society was founded in 1979 for the purpose of bringing into community poets and poetry lovers in the state of Georgia. If you are passionate about poetry, you’ve found the right place!

We welcome members from anywhere, but our quarterly meetings are held in various locations throughout the state of Georgia. The meetings are packed with poetry related programming, including member readings, featured poets, poetry workshops, and various talks on poetry related topics.

We also sponsor a series of poetry contests and publish an anthology each year.

You're invited to come as a guest to any of our quarterly meetings, poetry road shows, or local open poetry readings/workshops.

To support our future poetry programming in the state of Georgia and to participate in the contests and anthology, please consider becoming a member.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Food for Fish Photo Call



Photos by Brenda Messick

FOOD FOR FISH by Adam Szymkowicz, opening July 5. Regional Premiere.
Directed by Peter Hardy

Featuring: Kelly Criss, Kate Graham, Eve Krueger, Brent Nicholas Rose, Charles Swint and Sarah Falkenburg Wallace.

Bobbie is a lonely young man living in New York, trying to write about three sisters who long to escape the city and return to their childhood home of New Jersey … or is he really just an imaginary character in the mind of Sylvia, the youngest sister? Middle sister Alice is hopelessly in love with the husband of her older sister, and so she goes out on dates with a different man every night, working in her lab by day to isolate the human gene that makes us fall in love … so she can control it! Oldest sister Barbara (played by a man) and her husband (played by a woman) can’t figure out how men and women are supposed to relate to each other. This is the kind of play we love to do at the Essential – funny and beautiful and just about impossible to describe. The New York Times did it best, calling it “Fabulously weird and weirdly fabulous.”

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Help us put an end to our loooong Facebook URL

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/The-Essential-Theatre/15257139165?ref=ts

Now that's a mouthful. With only 925 more fans, Facebook will allow us to become http://www.facebook.com/EssentialTheatre. [not yet active] We need your help to put an end to the awful URL above. Take a second click on the link and click "Become a Fan" along the left side of the page. We plan to have special Facebook fan discounts as well as discounts for those who follow us on Twitter @ATL_Essential

Thursday, June 11, 2009

11th Annual Essential Theatre Play Festival Opens Soon

In just a few weeks, the 11th Annual Essential Theatre Play Festival will be opening, playing for the first time at the King Plow Art Center in the Actor's Express space. We'll be running July 5-August 2 -- please visit www.EssentialTheatre.com for details or follow us on Twitter ATL_Essential for the latest information.

FOOD FOR FISH by Adam Szymkowicz, opening July 5. Regional Premiere.
Directed by Peter Hardy
Featuring: Kelly Criss, Kate Graham, Eve Krueger, Brent Nicholas Rose, Charles Swint and Sarah Falkenburg Wallace.
Bobbie is a lonely young man living in New York, trying to write about three sisters who long to escape the city and return to their childhood home of New Jersey … or is he really just an imaginary character in the mind of Sylvia, the youngest sister? Middle sister Alice is hopelessly in love with the husband of her older sister, and so she goes out on dates with a different man every night, working in her lab by day to isolate the human gene that makes us fall in love … so she can control it! Oldest sister Barbara (played by a man) and her husband (played by a woman) can’t figure out how men and women are supposed to relate to each other. This is the kind of play we love to do at the Essential – funny and beautiful and just about impossible to describe. The New York Times did it best, calling it “Fabulously weird and weirdly fabulous.”

Next to open, on July 10, will be ICE GLEN by Joan Ackermann. Regional Premiere.
Directed by Ellen McQueen
Featuring: Jo Howarth, Dina Shadwell, Jayson Smith, Spencer G. Stephens, Jim Starbh and Ann Wilson.
Sarah Harding lives in an isolated country cottage, surrounded by a warm circle of quietly eccentric friends. She may be America’s greatest poet, but no one’s ever seen her work … which is just the way she wants it. But now an editor has arrived from Boston, wanting to publish her poems and bring her the fame and fortune she has never sought. With unforgettable characters, this wonderfully funny romantic drama -- about the frozen places in our hearts coming back to life again -- is like the best Emma Thompson movie you never saw. “Beautifully written.” Talkin’ Broadway. “A lovely play.” CurtainUp

Opening July 15 will be JIM CROW AND THE RHYTHM DARLINGS by Vynnie Meli. World Premiere.
Directed by Betty Hart
Featuring: Rachel Bodenstein, Enisha Brewster, Daniel Burnley, DeAndrea Crawford, Nadir Mateen, Delesa Sims
It’s World War Two, and with so many men going off to serve, the previously all-male world of jazz is opening up to women for the first time. The International Rhythm Darlings are an all-female African-American band touring the Deep South, which would be a tough situation in the best of times … but now they’ve got a last-minute replacement in the group, a white Jewish woman, and integrated bands aren’t allowed to play together on stage. Not in the South, not anywhere.

Inspired by the real-life experiences of musicians from that era, Vynnie Meli’s play takes a fascinating look at some extraordinary women who make their way past fear and hatred to find the common threads that bind them together. Winner of the 2009 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award competition, the only prize exclusively dedicated to the work of Georgia playwrights. The Essential Theatre is proud to have developed this play (along with Working Title Playwrights and Jewish Theatre of the South) and to be bringing it to the stage for the first time.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

EARLYBIRD Festival Pass Discount



For a limited time, an additional $5 off the three show Essential Theatre Festival Pass will be available for online purchases using the discount code "EARLYBIRD"

$45 [now $40].

Friday, May 22, 2009

Best Local Playwrights: Sunday Paper recognizes a few of Atlanta's talented playwrights.

The Essential Theatre wants to congratulate Lauren Gunderson for being named Best Local Playwright in the Sunday Paper's Reader's Poll -- and Valetta Anderson for being named runner-up!

Lauren won the Essential Theatre Playwriting Award in 2001 (for PARTS THEY CALL DEEP) and 2004 (for BACKGROUND).
Valetta won in 2006, for LEAVING LIMBO.

All the best to both these writers, and may they have continued success in their field.

In the meantime, look out for our World Premiere production of Vynnie Meli's JIM CROW AND THE RHYTHM DARLINGS, winner of this year's contest. It'll be part of the 11th Annual Essential Theatre Festival, playing July 5 - August 2 at Actor's Express.


For more information, visit www.EssentialTheatr
e.com.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


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Kudos for Essential Theatre Playwriting Award Winners Karla Jennings and Lauren Gunderson

The Essential Theatre wants to congratulate Atlanta playwright Karla Jennings on winning the Pillars Playwriting Prize for her script “The Smiles.” This award is sponsored by the Creative Writing Program in the Department of English, Speech and Journalism at Georgia College and State University. Karla will receive an honorarium of $2,000.00 and her play will be produced at the College.

The Essential Theatre chose Karla’s play “Images In Smoke” for production in 2000, making it the second winner of our annual competition for Georgia playwrights (though we weren’t officially calling it the Essential Theatre Playwriting Award yet). That production was named by Creative Loafing’s Curt Holman as being one of the fifteen best shows of that year.

Karla went on to win the Playwrights First Award (given by New York’s National Arts Club) for her play “The Ruby Vector.” We wish her all the best in her continued success.

In more good news for Essential Playwrights, Lauren Gunderson (winner of the 2001 and 2004 Essential Theatre Playwriting Awards, for “Parts They Call Deep” and “Background”) just had the World Premiere of her play “Emilie” at the very prestigious South Coast Repertory in California. Congratulations to Lauren as well!




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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

2009 Essential Theatre New Play Festival

Sunday, July 5
7:00pm Food For Fish

Monday, July 6

8:00pm Food For Fish

Tuesday, July 7

Wednesday, July 8

Thursday, July 9

Friday, July 10

8:00pm Ice Glen

Saturday, July 11
8:00pm Food For Fish

Sunday, July 12
7:00pm Ice

Monday, July 13

Tuesday, July 14

Wednesday, July 15

8:00pm Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings

Thursday, July 16
8:00pm Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings

Friday, July 17
8:00pm Food For Fish

Saturday, July 18
8:00pm Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings

Sunday, July 19
2:00pm Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings
7:00pm Food For Fish

Monday, July 20
8:00pm Ice Glen

Tuesday, July 21

Wednesday, July 22

Thursday, July 23


Friday, July 24
8:00pm Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings

Saturday, July 25
2:00pm Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings
8:00pm Ice Glen

Sunday, July 26

2:00pm Food For Fish
7:00pm Ice Glen

Monday, July 27
8:00pm Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings

Tuesday, July 28
8:00pm Food For Fish

Wednesday, July 29
8:00pm Ice Glen

Thursday, July 30
8:00pm Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings

Friday, July 31
8:00pm Ice Glen

Saturday, August 1, 2009
2:00pm Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings
8:00pm Food for Fish

Sunday, August 2,
Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Audition Announcement

The Essential Theatre will be holding their general auditions for 2009 on Monday, March 9, from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. These will be for the three productions in their 2009 Power Plays Festival, to be presented in repertory from July 5 – August 2 in the Actor’s Express space. We are looking for Non-Union performers; all roles will be stipend-paid.

The three plays being presented will be:

ICE GLEN by Joan Ackermann, a romantic period drama about a poet who does not want her work published, and the editor who tries to persuade her otherwise.
Characters:
GRAYSON, a butler in his fifties, kindly, gracious.
DENBY, in his twenties, lively and engaging, with the temperament of a child.
MRS. ROSWELL, Irish cook in her fifties, warm, blunt.
SARAH HARDING, a poet in her thirties, e arthy, fiery.
DULCE BAINBRIDGE, a widow in her thirties, pretty, genteel.
PETER WOODBURN, an editor in his forties, handsome, intellectual.

FOOD FOR FISH by Adam Szymkowicz, a melancholy comedy about longing. Some roles are designed to be portrayed by performers of the opposite sex.
BOBBIE, a writer, passionate and lonely young man.
BARBARA, thirties for forties, agoraphobic (to be played by a man).
ALICE, twenties or thirties, scientist.
SYLVIA, twenties, reporter.
DEXTER, thirties or forties, husband to Barbara (to be played by a woman).
SASHA, twenties or thirties, also plays several different women and men.

JIM CROW AND THE RHYTHM DARLINGS by Vynnie Meli. Drama about an all-female jazz band touring the Deep South during World War Two.
PEGGY, African-American woman in her twenties or thirties.
VI, African-American woman in her twenties or thirties.
BLANCHE, Jewish woman in her twenties or thirties.
JEROME, African-American man in his thirties or forties.
POLICEMAN, a white man.

(Please note – while JIM CROW deals with racial issues and will be cast according to the racial types listed above, both FOOD FOR FISH and ICE GLEN will be open to non-traditional casting.)

The auditions will be held in the “Blue Room” lounge of Horizon Theatre. That’s a room at the bottom of the stairs, on the basement level of the building that Hori zon Theatre is located in, at 1083 Austin Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30307. For directions, visit
http://www.horizontheatre.com/boxoffice.htm. Please prepare two contrasting monologues with a total running time of not more than 4 minutes.

To make audition appointments, call 404-212-0815 or e-mail
pmhardy@aol.com.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

2009 Power Plays Festival Lineup

The 2009 Essential Theatre Power Plays includes our Playwriting Award Winner, JIM CROW AND THE RHYTHM DARLINGS by Vinnie Meli, as well as ICE GLEN by Joan Ackermann.  She’s a playwright who’s been produced around the country for some years now – Horizon did her play THE BATTING CAGE a few years back.  This one’s a romantic drama, set in 1919, about a reclusive poetess who does not want her poems published, and the editor to tries to persuade her otherwise.  That may sound rather dry and dusty, but it’s immensely charming, touching and very funny.
  • "Beautifully written…a story of nature and change." —Talkin' Broadway.
  • "A lovely play which will leave you with a lot to think about." —CurtainUp.
  • "Funny, moving and witty." —Metroland (Boston).
The third play is FOOD FOR FISH, by Adam Szymkowwicz   It’s hard to describe – The New York Times put it well in their review:  “Fabulously weird and weirdly fabulous.”  I’d call it a melancholy comedy about longing.  Three NYC sisters wish they could return to New Jersey (there’s a lot of Chekhov vibes in the play); a young writer prowls around the city, looking for lonely single women to kiss on street corners; a twentyish female scientist goes on dates with a different man every night, while during the day she works to isolate the human gene that makes people fall in love – she wants to control it, so you can choose who you fall in love with.  There’s also some characters designed to be played by actors of the opposite sex – men playing women, and vice versa.  This isn’t for drag-show comedy, but it does allow for some interestingly comical shifts in our perspectives on what men and women are supposed to be like.  Like I said, hard to describe, but it’s funny and quirky and could also be beautiful – my favorite kind of play.

Peter Hardy