Essential Theatre continues its tradition of premiering the best new work by Georgia playwrights for Atlanta audiences with this summer’s Essential Theatre Play Festival, taking place July 18 through August 17 in its new home at the West End Performing Arts Center, located at 945 Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard.
Essential will be presenting the World Premieres of this year’s playwriting award co-winners, That Uganda Play by Theroun D’Arcy Patterson, and Ravens and Seagulls by Karla Jennings, along with staged readings of six other new works by Georgia authors in the Bare Essentials Reading Series.
Since 1999, the Essential Theatre has produced an annual Festival consisting of three full-length plays performed in repertory, with at least one new play by a Georgia writer produced every year. In recent years however, their emphasis has shifted to producing all new works by Georgia writers, and this move has garnered significant local and community support.
In the first fifteen years of the Festival, Essential presented 23 new works by Georgia authors, all receiving productions of the highest artistic quality through Essential and many going on to receive future productions elsewhere in Atlanta and across the country. “Our vision in moving forward,” states Founding Artistic Director Peter Hardy, “is to give Georgia playwrights an ever-stronger voice across the country and in the world, and in so doing, to continue to enrich our own community of artists and audience members at home.”
The West End Performing Arts Center is located just a couple of miles from Actor’s Express, where Essential’s festivals have been for the past five years. Two blocks from I-20, an easy walk from the West End MARTA station, and a ten minute drive from Little Five Points, where Essential performed prior to moving to Actor’s Express in 2009, the West End Performing Arts Center is an absolute gem and we at Essential are looking forward to our partnership this summer.
That Uganda Play by Theroun D’Arcy Patterson
Directed by Amber Bradshaw
An epic story that moves from America to Africa and back again, imagining the ghosts of war, political corruption and personal betrayal that might lie behind the recent anti-Gay legislation in the nation of Uganda. One of the co-winners of the 2014 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award.
Theroun won the 2011 Essential Award for his family drama A Thousand Circlets, which was a big hit in that year’s Essential Festival. In 2013 it went on to a successful production at the Detroit Repertory Theatre. His play Origin Story is running through May 18 at the Academy Theater in Hapeville and is scheduled for two future productions elsewhere in Georgia later this year.
Amber has coordinated the Bare Essentials reading series for the past two Festivals and has been working with Theroun to develop this play since directing a reading of it in last summer’s Festival.
Ravens and Seagulls by Karla Jennings
Directed by David Crowe
Three women face the final days of their ailing sister’s life in this moving family drama. Emotionally raw and sometimes painfully funny, it’s a transcendent study of love and mortality and survival. One of the co-winners of the 2014 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award.
Essential Theatre produced Karla’s play Images in Smoke in the second Essential Theatre Festival, back in 2000. That production was named one of the Best of the Year by Creative Loafing. Other plays of hers have won the Playwrights First Award, the Pillars Playwriting Prize and the Hermann Kesten Fellowship.
And director David Crowe returns to the Essential Theatre, where he previously directed their Regional Premier of Steven Dietz’s Private Eyes and their hit World Premiere of Karen Wurl’s award-winning comedy Miss Macbeth. More recently, David received a Suzi Award nomination for his direction of Equus at Actor’s Express, and earlier this season he directed the acclaimed Vens in Fur at the Express as well.
Bare Essential Play Reading Series
Curated by Founding Artistic Director Peter Hardy
Founding Artistic Director Peter Hardy will be overseeing the Bare Essentials reading series and directing three of the six readings himself. Peter is a national award-winning playwright himself, who’s had over 30 productions of his work done around the country, and was named Creative Loafing’s Critic’s Pick for Best Local Playwright in 2010.
All readings in the Bare Essential series are free and open to the public. Come early for complimentary wine and stay after for exciting conversation with the director, cast and playwright!
For more information check out the theater’s website at http://www.EssentialTheatre.com.