Author Archives: jennifer

Meet the Playwright: Anna Denise Millard

Anna Denise Millard (left) wrote the play we’ll be reading tonight, What My Mother Told Me.

Tell us a little about yourself.
After graduating from Emory University with a degree in Playwriting, I have spent the first few years of my career working in publishing in New York City, as an Assistant Editor with Oxford University Press and the Speakers Bureau Director for the Hachette Book Group. I’ve recently decided to shift paths, starting a new journey focused on pursuing artistic endeavors and working in hospitality. I live in Bushwick, Brooklyn where I collaborate on podcasts, help produce low-budget webseries(es?), guest write for blogs, give bad advice over mezcal, and am on a first-name basis with three different Halal cart guys.

Please share in your own words a little about the play we’ll be seeing.
What My Mother Told Me is a play I wrote about three years ago at the end of my time at Emory. I have been wanting to revisit it and make some substantial changes for a while now, so this reading comes at a great time!

What inspired you to write this play?
A lot of what inspired me to write this play was my own experiences growing up in Nashville, Tennessee and observing generations of women whose lives were deeply affected on every level by their ideas about womanhood, gender, and sexuality. Growing up, I felt women were so shaped by the things they couldn’t talk about.

What is the importance of staged readings in your own creative process and the development of your play?
I think readings are absolutely critical to the development of any play. Writing can be such an isolating experience, but theater is a completely collaborative art. Readings are where the intellectual work of putting ideas into words and the physical work of creating a performance–turning those words into theater–collide.

What do you hope to get out of this Bare Essentials reading process?
I put this play aside for a few years; I knew there were elements I was unsatisfied with but was too close to the project to be able to really dig in and make changes. Now that there has been some breathing room, this reading is a perfect chance to revisit and get fresh perspective on how to move forward!

What has your experience with this reading been so far?
Since I live in New York, we’ve been working together remotely and mostly over email. Since I haven’t been to any rehearsals most of the details are going to be a surprise! I’m excited.

Where else can we see your work, either recently, currently or in the near future?
Right now I’m in the process of launching a website for a podcast and short film I’m producing as tangent projects …. unfortunately the details of the site’s domain are still in the works but please reach out directly for more information!


What My Mother Told Me, by Anna Denise Millard, will be read tonight at 7:30pm at the West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. Featuring: Lane Carlock, John Benzinger, Brooke Owens, Annie Cook, Allan Edwards, Tad Cameron, Kristin Butler and Kyra Cohen. Directed by Anna G. Richardson

As always, the reading is free and open to the public.
Discussion with the playwright will follow the reading.


Meet the Playwright: G. M. Lupo

photo by Matthew Mammola

G. M. Lupo is an author and playwright native to Atlanta, GA. His work has been performed at Atlanta Fringe Fest 2015, Out of Box Theatre, and OnStage Atlanta. He was born in and spent most of his childhood in West End, and learned to read in the library that once resided in what is now the West End Performing Arts Center. He’s a graduate of New York University’s Graduate Creative Writing Program and Georgia State University. His website is

Tell us a little about the play we’ll be seeing this summer.

It’s about unintended consequences, and how our actions may affect others we know little or nothing about. When Leah Walker agrees to help out a friend with a fertility problem, she has no idea that eighteen years later, her decision will come back to haunt her.

Where did you get the idea for this play? What made you want to write it?

Several of the characters were based on another play I was developing. In creating the backstory of the character Leah, I came up with the detail that’s the basis for this story.

How did you get into playwriting?

I always wanted to be a novelist, but after getting involved with Sketchworks in Atlanta, I started to see scripted pieces as a fascinating medium for expression. Most of the comedy sketches I wrote for them were cited for being more like short plays, so I started concentrating on ten-minute plays and longer works. I’ve since found it very rewarding, seeing characters I’ve created come to life in the hands of a director and cast.

Are you working on any new projects at the moment? What’s next for you?

I’m working on a couple of books based on characters from Another Mother and the earlier play on which it was based. I’m hoping to have at least one of them finished and available before summer. I also have a number of stories floating around in my head waiting for expression.

Developing these characters in Atlanta has also informed other work that I’d shelved, so developing Another Mother has helped fuel my creativity in other areas.

Where else can we see your work, either recently, currently, or in the coming year(s)?

I have several books available at online retailers in print versions and on in print and Kindle versions. My most recent are collections of essays called Killing Babies, and The Cheese Toast Project, and a collection of short stories called Freedom and Consequence.

What made you decide to submit your play to the Essential Theatre Playwriting Contest?

I’ve attended shows here and have always found it an excellent vehicle for new plays and local playwrights. The fact that Essential is putting on their shows in the neighborhood where I was born and lived as a kid and in the building which was once one of my favorite places to visit, was an added bonus.

Are there any thoughts you’d like to share about having your play produced for the first time?

It’s an honor to have The Essential Theatre produce my work in my hometown, and especially in my home neighborhood. I’m looking forward to participating in the process to create a truly unique experience for the audience.

How did you find out about Essential and the playwriting contest?

I’ve been attending shows for the past seven or eight years, and have submitted works previously.


Next Bare Essentials May 22: What My Mother Told Me, by Anna Denise Millard

What My Mother Told Me



MAY 22, 2017

7:30 pm



Faced with a life-altering secret and no one to trust, Hester Bennett makes an unannounced visit to her estranged daughter’s college dorm with hopes of mending their relationship. Using humor and nods of magical realism, What My Mother Told Me explores how generations of lingering puritanism affect women in the 20th century Protestant South.

Featuring: Lane Carlock, John Benzinger, Brooke Owens, Annie Cook, Allan Edwards, Tad Cameron, Kristin Butler and Kyra Cohen 

Meet the Playwright: Anna Denise Millard


Mark your calendars for May 5!

Join Essential Theatre, the Atlanta Region Dramatist’s Guild and the Atlanta-Fulton County Public Library System – Central Library on May 5 from 4-6pm for a Dramatist’s Guild “Conversations With” featuring playwright, screenwriter, and short story author Lauren Gunderson in an open discussion of her approach to writing, career strategy, and current projects. The event will be led by the Guild’s Atlanta Regional Rep Pamela Turner and will include time for audience questions and a short meet-and-greet.

Originally from Atlanta, Gunderson was the first recipient (2001) of the Essential Theatre Playwriting Award, and in 2016 she was honored with the Dramatists Guild’s prestigious Lanford Wilson Award. In between that time, she has been identified by American Theatre Magazine as the most-produced living playwright in 2016, and has won other awards ranging from the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award, Aurora Theatre’s Global Age Award, and Eric Bentley New Play Award. Currently she is in Atlanta with a workshop production of her new bluegrass musical The Heath on May 4-5 at Synchronicity Theatre. In July Lauren’s play Ada and the Memory Engine will be produced as part of the 2017 Essential Theatre Play Festival.




2017 General Auditions

The Essential Theatre will be holding General Auditions for its 2017 season from 1-5 p.m. on March 25.
Auditions will be held in Room 210 of the Rich Building on the Emory University campus, at 1602 Fishburne Drive, Atlanta, GA 30322. This is at the corner of Fishburne Drive and Fishburne Lane, across the street from the Fishburne Parking Deck.
Please bring headshot/resumes and two contrasting monologues of not more than 4 minutes total length.

To make an appointment, contact, or call 404-212-0815.
All roles will be stipend-paid.