Author Archives: jennifer

Georgia Playwright Celebration 2014 | The Essential Theatre Festival


Since the beginning of the festival in 1999, The Essential Theatre has committed to producing at least one new play a year by a Georgia playwright. Essential began its annual Essential Theatre Playwriting Competition in 2001, strengthening its ties to local writers by establishing  the only competition exclusively dedicated to playwrights in the state of Georgia. The award for this competition? Production of the play in that year’s Festival and a cash stipend. Now in its 14th year, TheEssential Theatre Playwriting Award co-recipients are Karla Jennings and Theroun Patterson.  Their works Ravens & Seagulls and That Uganda Play (respectively) are being brought to life over the course of July and August at The West End Performing Arts Center. Complimenting these two world premieres, this year’s Bare Essentials portion of the festival will expand to include six readings of works-in-progress by Georgia playwrights.

Karla Jennings’ Ravens & Seagulls encapsulates the dynamics between four sisters, brought together to wade through the impending death of the youngest. Emotionally raw and painfully funny, its a transcendent study of love, mortality, and survival. Featuring the incredible cast of Teresa Deberry, Patricia French, Jill Perry, Gina Rickiki, Sam Traquina, Sarah Wallis and Kathleen Wattis.

Theroun Patterson’s piece, That Uganda Play, is an epic story that moves from America to Africa and back again, imagining the ghosts of war, political corruption and personal betrayal that might lie behind the recent anti-Gay legislation in the nation of Uganda. This summer’s powerful cast includes Olubajo Sonubi, Brody Wellmaker, Jennifer Alice Acker, Tiffany Denise Mitchenor, Portia Cue, Blaire Hillman, Kevin Stillwell, Alex Van and Sedonia Monet.

WHO: The Essential Theatre

WHAT: The 2014 Essential Theatre Festival

WHERE: West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd, Atlanta GA

WHEN: July 18-August 17 2014








The mission of The Essential Theatre is to nurture and produce exciting and challenging new work by Georgia playwrights and expand the theatre experience of audiences by presenting world and regional premieres not previously seen in the Atlanta area. Going forward, Essential  aims to give Georgia playwrights an ever-stronger voice across the country and in the world, and in doing so, continuing to enrich the community of artists and audience members at home. Essential Theatre is a 501(c) 3 non-profit.


Deisha Oliver­Millar, Bang! Arts
Miles Jenson, Bang! Arts
Direct: (404­) 663­-3833




Now through June 1, support us through power2give and have your donation matched 100%! All proceeds from our power2give campaign directly support the 2014 Essential Theatre Festival and the artists whose work we are showcasing. Your support is essential, so make your donation today!

Now through May 31, support us through power2give and have your donation matched 100%!
All proceeds from our power2give campaign directly support the 2014 Essential Theatre Festival and the artists whose work we are showcasing. Your support is essential, so make your donation today!



Since 1999 the Essential Theatre Play Festival has been bringing new plays by Georgia writers to Atlanta audiences, and over the years we’ve become recognized as an important part of the Atlanta cultural scene.  We’ve been fortunate to have some of the best professional theatre artists in the area work on our productions, usually for small fees that were only a fraction of what they could earn elsewhere.  This summer we’ll be producing the World Premieres of THAT UGANDA PLAY by Theroun D’Arcy Patterson and RAVENS AND SEAGULLS by Karla Jennings.  And, for the first time, we’ll be paying our actors and stage managers a weekly wage, making their work eligible to be considered for the professional Suzi Bass Awards!

This means a BIG increase in our budget, and we really need your help to make this happen!  We have a power2give fundraising campaign going on that ENDS ON MAY 31 – which means that, for the next two weeks, ANY donation to make will be MATCHED by the City of Atlanta, and that gives us the potential of raising  $10,000, which will make ALL THE DIFFERENCE in our being able to give these two powerful new works by local playwrights the top-flight professional productions they deserve.

I know that there are a million other worthy causes and great Atlanta theaters vying for your support, but this power2give campaign is our main source of fundraising for this summer’s festival – AND WE NEED YOUR HELP TODAY.  Every donation will help, no matter how small – because, up through May 31, it will be DOUBLED.

Please help us pay our wonderful artists a little bit closer to what they deserve!


Daryl Fazio Featured Playwright in Florida Rep’s First Annual PlayLab Festival

playlab-graphic-300The first weekend in May, Florida Rep held their first ever PlayLab Festival, “an intensive festival that showcases New Plays and New Voices in the American Theatre, and gives playwrights a safe environment to workshop their plays.” Out of approximately 100 plays considered for the festival, only four were chosen to be read. One of these was Daryl Fazio’s Split in Three, which Essential audiences may remember from the 2012 Bare Essentials series. Congratulations, Daryl!

A major goal of the PlayLab Festival, as with Essential’s own Bare Essentials Reading Series, is to give playwrights a chance to hear their words read aloud and receive feedback from cast and audience alike. In an interview with Nancy Stetson of Florida Weekly, Florida Rep Producing Artistic Director Robert Cacioppo observes, “a play needs several productions, I think.  They don’t come out completely ready.”

One of the plays read during the 2014 Festival will be chosen for production in the 2014-15 season at Florida Rep.

Back in Atlanta, Daryl had this to say about her experience in Florida last weekend:

This was an important workshop with which to follow up my Essential process. I wrote a new draft right after the Essential reading almost two years ago now, and that’s the version that was chosen (I think they got about 100 submissions; they chose four for the festival) and read in Florida. The response was like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and I now know, with a little more minor tweaking, this script is ready to fly the coop and hit the stage with a full production. Florida Rep is interested–one of their motives of the festival is to choose a play to be produced on their mainstage next spring. They found the overwhelmingly positive audience response and their own feelings about the play to be good reason to consider it. They’ll make a decision soon. But if they decide not to give it a go, I have renewed confidence in SPLIT IN THREE and will start the task of sending it out into the world. Plus, I become a better writer every single time I get to hang out with actors and read my words for a few days.

For more information about Daryl Fazio and her work, check out her website. To learn more about the 2014 Bare Essentials Play Reading Series and how you can get involved, click here.


New Home for This Summer’s Essential Theatre Festival

Essential Theatre Festival Moves to West End For Another Summer of World Premieres by Georgia Playwrights

Atlanta, April 2014 – Essential Theatre continues its tradition of premiering the best new work by Georgia playwrights for Atlanta audiences with this summer’s Essential Theatre Play Festival, taking place July 18 through August 17 in its new home at the West End Performing Arts Center, located at 945 Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard.

Essential will be presenting the World Premieres of this year’s playwriting award co-winners, That Uganda Play by Theroun D’Arcy Patterson, and Ravens and Seagulls by Karla Jennings, along with staged readings of six other new works by Georgia authors in the Bare Essentials Reading Series. Continue reading