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 


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.


Tickets are free and going fast. 

RSVP to secure your spot now!





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.


Meet the Playwright: Jacobi Howard

Jacobi Howard is the playwright and actor featured in Monday night’s Bare Essentials reading, Pants on Fire!

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Jacobi Howard, 32 years old. I am an actor and playwright from Charlotte, NC. Fairly new in town and making my rounds to become acquainted with the very spectacular arts community here in ATL. I graduated with my BFA from the University of North Carolina School of the arts in 2011. Favorite food: Avocado and wheat crackers.

Please share in your own words a little about the play we’ll be seeing.
“Pants on Fire” is a volume of plays I started to write back in 2010 when I was in college. The play you’ll see tonight is an installment from the shostodramatica (Sho-Sto-druh-mat-ick-uh) or “short story drama” series written in 2013. The genre is southern gothic. Old southern folk tales with biblical overtones and dark threads. In the style of a children’s book… but for adults.

What inspired you to write this play?
The authors I’ve loved for so long: Shel Silverstein, August Wilson, William Shakespeare, Alice Walker and Zora Neale Hurston. Their collectives work(s) have always been an inspiration for my need to write. The Bible has also been a huge draw for my stories. I was raised in a religious household and I identify as Christian so my faith has most certainly been a muse for the religious themes.  Though trust me when I say, this isn’t a “gospel play” but moreover pieces of it were inspired by the gospel(s).

How did you get into playwriting?
I started writing poetry in the 7th grade and then thought I was supposed to be a rap artist in high school – that didn’t quite work out so I stuck to spoken word and when I got a little older and attended arts school – I took some playwrighting workshops and fused my passions.

What is the importance of staged readings in your own creative process and the development of your play?
I’ve always wanted to hear them aloud and see them erected. I’ve had readings of two other plays I’ve written. Dirt(2014) and Souls Amid the Iron Partition(2015) performed at the National Black Theater Festival in Winston Salem, NC. The work of a play reading is necessary, you learn what works, what doesn’t and how both the actors and the audience respond to and interpret your work. You can only hear it in your head so many times.

What do you hope to get out of this Bare Essentials reading process?
More work as a playwright and performer!(Laughs). I’m kidding… kind of. What I hope to get beyond that is what I’ve already gotten which is an opportunity to be heard. Of course, interest and a production in someone’s upcoming season would be stellar!

What has your experience with this reading been so far?
Wonderful! Michael is great. He’s an incredibly sharp and detailed director. A thinker. He encourages the actors and leaves room for ideas other than his own, which is a good thing – I’m often amazed at how much he’s in my head as far as what I want for this piece. Coincidence is overrated I suppose.

Where else can we see your work, either recently, currently or in the near future?
As a playwright, here tonight and there are some other things cooking that I’m not really at liberty to speak on right now.
As an actor, I’ll be in American Stages (St. Petersburg, FL) production of “Informed consent” directed by Benjamin Ismail. Show opens March 18 and runs to April 9.

Thank you so much for attending tonight and I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
God Bless,
Jacobi Howard


Pants on Fire!, by Jacobi Howard, will be read Monday night at 7:30pm at the West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. Featuring: Daviorr Snipes as Gordon, Kerwin Thompson as Uncle Lucky,  Cameron Geer as Elppa, James G. Smith as Emmanuel ‘Man Man,’ and Jacobi Howard as The Storyteller.

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


Festival Announcement Event: February 25!


Purchase Tickets   View Event Slideshow 

Meet and congratulate the 2017 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award winner.

Be there when the 2017 Festival lineup is revealed!

Mix and mingle with past Essential playwrights and company members.

Be first in line to get your 2017 Festival Pass, which go on sale Feb 25!

Celebrating 19 years of the Essential Theatre Festival, during which we’ve produced 29 new works by 24 different Georgia playwrights, with readings of over 25 more.

Celebrating Essential’s – and Georgia’s – rich theatre history and the community in which our playwrights grow and thrive.



And the winner is…

Download press release: And the winner is…


Essential Theatre announces the winner

of the 2017 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award


photo by Safaa Sammander

February 2017 – Essential Theatre is proud to announce the winner of the 2017 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award: G. M. Lupo’s Another Mother.

Another Mother follows the journey of Genevieve as she pieces together the mysterious identities and relationships between her biological mother, her birth mother, and the mother who raised her. “It’s about unintended consequences,” says Lupo, “and how our actions may affect others we know little or nothing about.”

Another Mother will receive a full production in the 2017 Essential Theatre Festival this summer as well as a cash prize. Now in its seventeenth year, the Essential Theatre Playwriting Competition is the only contest exclusively dedicated to the work of Georgia playwrights. “It’s an honor to have the Essential Theatre produce my work in my hometown,” says the playwright, “and especially in my home neighborhood.”

G. M. Lupo is an author and playwright native to Atlanta, GA. His work has been performed at the Atlanta Fringe Festival, Out of Box Theatre, and OnStage Atlanta. He was born in and spent most of his childhood in West End—where his show will be premiering this summer—learning to read as a child in the library that once resided in what is now the West End Performing Arts Center. He is a graduate of New York University’s Creative Writing Program, and Georgia State University.

Says Essential’s Artistic Director, Peter Hardy, who will also be directing the world premiere production, “I was drawn to direct this play myself not only because it has such an interesting subject matter and has to do with technology that is comparatively new in the world, but also [because it] has an interesting group of characters with very particular but unusual relationships to each other. And throughout the course of the play, the nature of those relationships is being explored… There is a lot in the story that isn’t immediately clear, because it’s new territory. And so that’s something that I wanted to explore.”

Join Essential Theatre on February 25th to meet this year’s award winner and get your festival passes at the Festival Announcement Event at Get Scene Studios, near Atlantic Station. Tickets are available at For more information on the Playwriting Competition or to submit your play, visit

About the playwriting competition:
Now in its seventeenth year, this is the only contest exclusively dedicated to the work of Georgia playwrights. The winning play receives both a full production and a $600 cash prize. Playwrights must be current Georgia residents, and the plays must be previously unproduced. There are no restrictions as to style, length or subject matter. The deadline for the 2018 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award competition is April 23, 2017. Past Essential Theatre Playwriting Award winners include Karen Wurl, Karla Jennings, Vynnie Meli, Lauren Gunderson, and Topher Payne. For more information or to submit your play, visit

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For media inquires
Jennifer Kimball, Managing Director
(404) 587-3853


Calendar Listings

Essential Theatre Festival Announcement Event
February 25, 2017
The Essential Theatre at Get Scene Studios,
451 Bishop Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30318

The Essential Theatre Festival
July 28th – August 27th
The Essential Theatre
at West End Performing Arts Center
945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd,
Atlanta, GA 30310
Tickets available starting Feb 25 at



Closing this weekend!

Georgia Ensemble Theatre in Roswell has been a tremendous supporter of Topher Payne in recent years, commissioning and producing multiple new works of his. Closing this weekend is his latest mainstage commission, “Greetings Friend, Your Kind Assistance Is Required,” featuring a phenomenal cast of local greats including past Essential collaborator Brenda Porter as the main character, Rhonda.

Don’t miss your chance to see this delightfully escapist-feeling romp with moments of heartfelt insight – get your tickets today!


Next Bare Essentials Feb 13: Pants on Fire! by Jacobi Howard

Pants on Fire! 

by Jacobi Howard

FEBRUARY 13, 2017





Deep in the woods of the south, Gordon raises his two teenage children alone. When his estranged brother Lucius arrives unexpectedly, seeking reconciliation, he brings with him dark memories of the past. But what does Lucius actually have planned for this family in this electrifying Southern Gothic tale.

Featuring: Daviorr Snipes as Gordon, Kerwin Thompson as Uncle Lucky,  Cameron Geer as Elppa, James G. Smith as Emmanuel ‘Man Man,’ and Jacobi Howard as The Storyteller.

*All Bare Essentials readings are free and open to the public. Be sure to stay after for exciting conversation with the director, cast and playwright!

Meet the Playwright: Jacobi Howard