Martha Nell Hardy Memorial Fund

In February of 2017, Essential Theatre received an incredible gift: a $10,000 seed donation to found the Martha Nell Hardy Memorial Fund.
This is a game-changing event for Essential Theatre, and right now you have the opportunity to be a foundational part of that change.

When you make a donation to the Martha Nell Hardy Memorial Fund, you will contribute to Georgia playwrights’ success this year, and continue the Essential Theatre’s mission in the future. In 2017 alone, this fund enabled us to expand our Festival staff to improve and increase the support we’re able to provide to our playwrights and to you, our audience. Having a growth fund also allows us to think long-term about our legacy, and with your help we will be able to dream big!

Donate Today!

Why Now?
A pledge or donation today makes a perfect Mother’s Day gift! Your contribution will have an immediate impact on this summer’s festival while paving the way for the success of all the Essential playwrights yet to come.

Why This?
The Martha Nell Hardy Memorial Fund was founded to nurture Essential, which in turn nurtures Georgia playwrights. Your contribution provides immediate as well as long-term support.

Why Me?
Whether you knew Martha Nell yourself, are already a supporter of Essential’s work, or are new to our family and are looking for influential ways to be involved, your donation will make a significant impact on the Essential Theatre.

We hope you’ll consider making a gift today!


Who was Martha Nell Hardy?
Martha Nell Hardy (1925-2005), mother of Essential Theatre’s founding artistic director Peter Hardy, was an actress and an educator who cast a powerful and positive influence over the lives of literally thousands of people. She was the former chair and professor emerita of the Department of Communication Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, founder of the Carolina Regional Theatre and 33 year participant in Unto These Hills, the outdoor drama performed to this day in Cherokee, NC and written by her husband, William Hardy.

What MNH Fund supporters are saying:
“Mary Nell was like a second mother to my daughter at Unto These Hills, and Essential Theatre is very dear to me. I’m so glad to be able to help Essential by making a monthly donation to this fund.”   -Ida Glynn McQueen, sustaining donor

“I never met Martha Nell Hardy in person, but I have spent many years involved with the Essential Theatre and Peter Hardy. From the first moment through today, I have felt welcomed as part of the family. That’s what Essential Theatre is, I think. A wonderful artistic family that nurtures and supports Atlanta actors, technicians and playwrights. Every summer feels like a celebration of emerging talent, and the support lasts long beyond the final curtain call.”     -Sarah Cave, company member

What our playwrights say:
“[Essential] produced my first plays and basically started my professional career. Support them if you value new plays, Georgia artists, and intimate/vibrant theatre!”  -Lauren Gunderson, 2001 and 2005 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award winner

“Essential’s faith in playwrights strengthens their faith in themselves, which keeps them writing. Essential Theatre helps Georgia speak for itself.”   -Karla Jennings, 2014 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award winner