Lifetime Achievement and Gene Gabriel Moore Awards |The Suzi Bass Awards, 2014

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The Suzi Bass AwardsEleven Local Playwrights vie for Gene-Gabriel Moore Playwriting Award
2014 Lifetime Achievement to be awarded to  Wig and Hair Designer Monty Schuth

Atlanta professional theatres continued their commitment to developing new work with a bounty of productions written or adapted by local playwrights. There are eleven such plays in contention for this year’s Gene-Gabriel Moore Playwriting Award. The award, named after the primary founder of the Suzi Awards organization, recognizes an Atlanta-based playwright whose work was produced by a professional Atlanta theatre in the preceding season. A committee of area educators, playwrights and theatre professionals read each of the plays and choose the recipient.

Local writing in the 2013-2014 season included everything from satirical comedy and family drama to adaptations of classic literature. Three of the plays were part of the Essential Theatre Festival, produced in late summer. Ravens & Seagulls by Karla Jennings mixes myth, emotion and dark comedy to examine the final days of an ailing woman and the differing reactions of her three sisters. Theroun D’Arcy Patterson penned That Uganda Play, a robust contemplation of the political and personal causes of Uganda’s recent anti-gay legislation. Both Jennings and Patterson have had workshops and productions of their plays outside of Atlanta.

The third play, produced by Essential in the 2013 Festival, is Swimming with Jellyfish by Katie Grant Shalin. The play goes behind the perfect façade of a suburban family where infidelity, impending empty-nest syndrome, and millennial lassitude combine with sharp dialogue to test relationships. Shalin, an actress and teacher at the Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts, passed away in September. Swimming with Jellyfish was her first play.

Theatrical Outfit produced Jonida Beqo’s autobiographical play/poem Harabel about her experiences with war in her native Albania, her coming to America and life as a costume designer and performance poet. Another play looks at life as a newcomer in America: Third Country by Suehyla El-Attar. El-Attar researched recent events in Clarkston, GA concerning the substantial population of international refugees there. Horizon Theatre developed and produced the play as part of their 2013 season. Another play by El-Attar, The Doctor, the Devil & My Dad, recently opened at 7 Stages Theatre.

The Alliance Theatre produced another play based on local history, Janece Shaffer’s romantic The Geller Girls, which explores the possibilities for and choices of two sisters caught up in the whirlwind of the Cotton States and International Exposition of 1895. Shaffer is a three-time winner of the Gene-Gabriel Moore Playwriting Award for her plays Managing MaxineBrownie Points, and Broke.

Two adaptations of novels produced last season by 7 Stages are also in the running for the Playwriting Award. Michael Haverty, Associate Artistic Director of 7 Stages, has considerable experience developing works of puppet theatre and interactive performances. His adaptation of The Navigator, Eoin McNamee’s young-adult fantasy, incorporated a multi-site setting at the Goat Farm Arts Center and included the audience as active participants in the story. Haverty and Jane Barnette also adapted Stephen Crane’s classic novel into Red Badge of Courage, an intense sensory experience involving live actors, animation, tabletop puppetry, projected silhouettes and animation to bring to life war’s effect on the young.

Two artistic directors of relatively new theatres in Atlanta produced their own works last season. Grant McGowan, of Pinch ‘n’ Ouch, penned a satirical comedy about love among brokers after the 2008 market collapse in Wall Street Wedding. The Fern Theatre produced artistic director Doug Graham’s Being Alive, a dark comedy about a father and three teenagers learning acceptance.

Topher Payne, last year’s winner for his play Angry Fags, wrote The Only Light in Reno, which premiered at Georgia Ensemble Theatre. Based on a real life blackout in Reno during the filming of The Misfits, Payne imagines what happens if Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, Libby Holman and Paula Strasberg endure a night together courtesy of Miss Monroe’s single generator.

THE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Longtime Atlanta wig and hair designer Monty Schuth will receive the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Suzi Bass Awards Board of Directors. Schuth started designing and creating theatrical wigs in 1986 when Michael Horn of Theatre in the Square convinced him to create 26 wigs in late 18th century style for a production of Amadeus. Schuth learned more about hair for the stage and hand-tied hairpieces by working at the Alliance Theatre and Theatre of the Stars, and covering touring Broadway shows at the Fox. Since then, Schuth has become an expert on period hairstyles, lace-front wigs, and the special needs of Atlanta’s smaller theatres like Actor’s Express and 7 Stages. Schuth says that the closeness of the audience in many theatres, and the specificity required for period productions honed his skills in creating natural looks, and led to a busy career in film and TV production. For five years he maintained the red bouffant of Longhorn’s spokeswoman Flo, the big-haired waitress. Lately his work has appeared in the “Bunch of Benjamins” Georgia Lottery commercial on the presidents and Ben Franklin.  Actors who have worked with Schuth get more than a hairdresser. In addition to wig care and wearing tutorials, he asks the actor for character information to create the right style. As he says, “More than just styling a nice coiffure for a period look, I like to get into the subtext of the character: where they live, how they live their life, who cuts or styles their hair, what does their hair say about them, what’s their texture, what’s their silhouette; to me it all comes into play in how the hair is done.

Over his twenty-plus years as a designer, Schuth estimates that he has provided hair goods and barbering for over 570 stage shows, summer stock tours and ballets, worked as a local hire on around 32 Broadway tours, and styled and supervised 50 operas for The Atlanta Opera.

Witness the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Monty Schuth and this year’s Gene-Gabriel Moore Playwriting Award, along with Suzi Performance Awards in over twenty categories at the 10th Annual Suzi Awards Ceremony on Monday, November 3 at the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts and Community Center.

What:             The 2014 Suzi Bass Awards Ceremony
When:            Monday, November 3, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Where:           The Porter Sanford III Performing Arts and Community Center Price:             $50 in advance, $60 at the door
Info:               Creative Black Tie, Free Parking, catered after-party included in ticket price

For more information or to buy tickets, please visit our website at http://www.suziawards.org/

The Suzi Bass Awards, Inc. is a Georgia corporation operating under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Judging Panels, Board Members and Committees are all staffed by volunteers, and Membership is open to anyone. The Suzi Bass Awards, Inc. P.O. Box 550468, Atlanta GA 30355.