Celebrating 20 Years: A Look Back At The 2015 Festival

Continuing our look back at the past 19 years of Essential Theatre festivals, today we take a look back at the seventeenth Essential Theatre Festival, in 2015.


The 2015 Essential Theatre Festival was our second one at the West End Performing Arts Center, and we had a big bump in attendance as more and more people learned about this lovely performance venue! Josh Mikel’s LILLIAN LIKES IT took a comic look at social media and Natalia Temesgen’s OLD SHIP OF ZION was about the member of a small church who begins to realize that he’s gay.

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Celebrating 20 Years: A Look Back At The 2014 Festival

Continuing our look back at the past 19 years of Essential Theatre festivals, today we take a look back at the sixteenth Essential Theatre Festival, in 2014.


This was our first year at West End Performing Arts Center, and we went from doing three plays in repertory to two, so we could put more time and resources into our World Premiere productions. The Essential Theatre Playwriting Award was split between Theroun Patterson’s THAT UGANDA PLAY (his second win) and Karla Jennings’ RAVENS & SEAGULLS (it would have been her second win if we had started the contest back when we premiered her IMAGES IN SMOKE back in the 2000 Festival).

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Celebrating 20 Years: A Look Back At The 2013 Festival

Continuing our look back at the past 19 years of Essential Theatre festivals, today we take a look back at the fifteenth Essential Theatre Festival, in 2013.


Our second year of all-Georgia-written plays. MYSTERIOUS CONNECTIONS, which Artistic Director Peter Hardy took to the Eugene O’Neil Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference, got a splendid production from director Ellen McQueen. Hardy directed the World Premiere of STRAY DOGS by Matt Myers, and Katie Grant Shalin’s SWIMMING WITH JELLYFISH was directed by Bill Murphey (who acted in the very first Essential Theatre production, back in 1987). Tragically, Katie Grant Shalin passed away and was not able to see our production of her wonderful play.

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Celebrating 20 Years: A Look Back At The 2012 Festival

Continuing our look back at the past 19 years of Essential Theatre festivals, today we take a look back at the fourteenth Essential Theatre Festival, in 2012.


Continuing our look back at 20 years of Essential Theatre Festivals …
2012 was a big, big year for us, with our highest attendance and box office records ever. Not conincidentally, it was also our first year of doing ALL new work by Georgia writers!
There was Topher Payne’s EVELYN IN PURGATORY, which is now published by Samuel French and has had at least two further productions. Jordan Pulliam’s BAT-HAMLET has been produced six times, around the country, since we first did it that year. And Ellen McQueen took the stories, songs and scripts of many contributors to develop THE LOCAL, a wide-ranging portrait of the City of Atlanta.

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Celebrating 20 Years: A Look Back At The 2011 Festival

Continuing our look back at the past 19 years of Essential Theatre festivals, today we take a look back at the thirteenth Essential Theatre Festival, in 2011.


The 2011 Essential Theatre Festival was another great year for us — three shows we’re still proud of today. Lee Blessing’s GREAT FALLS, Melanie Marnich’s A SLEEPING COUNTRY (Blessing and Marnich are married, which we didn’t even know when we chose those plays!) And the World Premiere of Theroun Patterson’s A THOUSAND CIRCLETS, the first of two Essential Theatre Playwriting Award wins for him. This play went on to be produced again at Detroit Repertory Theatre — another success in Essential’s mission to move Georgia playwrights onto the national stage.

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Celebrating 20 Years: A Look Back At The 2010 Festival

Continuing our look back at the past 19 years of Essential Theatre festivals, today we take a look back at the twelfth Essential Theatre Festival, in 2010.


The 2010 Essential Theatre Festival was a big one for us. We did Poet Laureate Rita Dove’s epic THE DARKER FACE OF THE EARTH, and Ms. Dove was gracious enough to come to our opening night! Then we did Artistic Director’ Peter Hardy’s prize-winning SALLY AND GLEN AT THE PALACE, which went on to another production at Out of Box Theater, and Gabriel Jason Dean’s QUALITIES OF STARLIGHT, which went on to four further productions around the country, and is now published by Dramatic Publishing Company.

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Celebrating 20 Years: A Look Back At The 2009 Festival

Continuing our look back at the past 19 years of Essential Theatre festivals, today we take a look back at the eleventh Essential Theatre Festival, in 2009.


Continuing our celebration of 20 years of the Essential Festival — 2009! This was the year we moved from 7 Stages to Actor’s Express, and suddenly we could have sets!
Our prize-winning World Premiere, that year, Vynnie Meli’s JIM CROW AND THE RHYTHM DARLINGS, was described by one of our patrons as “the most powerful play I’ve ever seen.”

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Celebrating 20 Years: A Look Back At The 2008 Festival

Continuing our look back at the past 19 years of Essential Theatre festivals, today we take a look back at the tenth Essential Theatre Festival, in 2008.


2008 was the last of the four Festivals we presented in the back space at 7 Stages. Along with Letitia Sweitzer’s WEST OF EDEN, our Essential Theatre Playwriting Award winner, we produced Paul Rudnick’s beautiful epic comedy VALHALLA and Gina Gionfriddo’s searing drama AFTER ASHLEY.

(VALHALLA remains one of Artistic Director Peter Hardy’s favorite shows he has ever directed.)

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Thank you!

THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO CONTRIBUTED TO OUR 2018 ESSENTIAL THEATRE PLAY FESTIVAL THIS FALL THROUGH

Mark Perloe and Mary Perloe in honor of Chris Mann’s Dec 21 performance at the Strand in Marietta; Doug Shipman; Ellen McQueen; Sherry Shaw; Pamela Rooks; Nina Jones; Johnny Thigpen; Sarah Wallace; Erin Lavallee; Barbara O’Haley; Chris Carlsten; Adena Brumer; Thom, Lori, and Sydney Stanley; Alex Van; Brittany Harper; Hank and Barbara Kimmel; Cathy Jamison; Pamela Turner; Daniel Guyton; G Morgan Timmis; Alissa Scherb; John and Amy Babcock; Leonard Pallats; Melissa Hardy-Trevenna in honor of Martha Nell Hardy; Lee Raines; Josh Mikel; Natalie Karp; Laura King; Rial Ellsworth; Nancy Powell; Klimchak; Maya Robinson; Melinda Wood; Natalia Temesgen in honor of Georgia playwrights (of which she is quite a talented one herself!); Stephanie Wilkinson; and Philip Mertz.

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A Gift to Remember

Last weekend, Hallmark rolled out its latest holiday movie, A Gift to Remember by none other than our beloved Topher Payne. Check here (top right corner of the page) for repeat showtimes throughout the holiday season!

Topher’s thoughts on seeing his words on the small screen again this holiday season?

Four million people watched A Gift to Remember on Sunday. We were second only to The Walking Dead.
My playwright brain still can’t fathom a story reaching that many people at once.
TV is so neat.

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