In Memory of William “Bill” Hardy

March 30, 1922 – January 2, 2019

William Marion Hardy, father of Essential’s founding Artistic Director Peter Hardy, passed away peacefully on January 2, 2019, at the age of 96, at the Dubose Medical Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

When asked if he had any hobbies, he said “Not really. The theatre
was my profession and I had the good fortune to thoroughly enjoy
my work. I didn’t need any other hobby.”

To read his full obituary, written by Peter, click here.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to Essential’s newly renamed Bill and Martha Nell Hardy Memorial Fund.

Founded in February of 2017 as the Martha Nell Hardy Memorial Fund and renamed following Martha Nell’s husband Bill’s passing on January 2, 2019.

If you knew Bill, we invite you to share your story with us! Dedications can be made on the donation form, or you can email stories and photos to


ArtsATL “Best of 2018” names WOKE, multiple Essential artists

In the just-released ArtsATL “Year in Review,” this summer’s World Premiere of Avery Sharpe’s WOKE was named “Play We Couldn’t Shake.” Curators of the list added, “The summer of 2018 can be described as the summer of Avery Sharpe; we sincerely hope it’s the first of many.”

All three of the Best Performers named in the list – Anthony Goolsby, Ashley Anderson, and Lee Osorio – have Essential ties as well!


Denver has Hart

Big Congratulations to Betty Hart, who just won the True West Award in Denver, Colorado!
Before moving to Denver, Betty played a big part in some of Essential’s growth years, directing productions of JIM CROW AND THE RHYTHM DARLINGS, THE DARKER FACE OF THE EARTH, A THOUSAND CIRCLETS and EVELYN IN PURGATORY.


Miss Bennett is back!

Returning at Theatrical Outfit November 21 – December 23, 2018, this holiday hit by Decatur native and Essential veteran playwright Lauren Gunderson features Amelia Fischer (Dispossessed, 2016 Essential Theatre Play Festival) in the title role. The production team is peppered with other familiar Essential names, including Lee Osorio and Galen Crawley in the cast, Alex Riviere (lighting design) and Barbara Gantt O’Haley (production stage manager).

“When my co-author Margot Melcon and I started Miss Bennet, we wanted to create a holiday story for everyone that explores the complexities of family and love. It had to be funny, moving, romantic and smart. It had to be something Jane Austen would approve of. We are so proud of the play and the incredible reception its premiere received across the country last year. I can’t think of a better community with whom to share this story than my Theatrical Outfit family.” –  Lauren Gunderson, playwright


Curious Reveries

Ashley Anderson, last seen on Essential’s stage in the title role of the box office hit Ada and the Memory Engine by Lauren Gunderson, can currently be seen in an entirely different kind of performance at The Space in Smyrna.  Just four performances remain of the exciting show Curious Reverie, created by Havoc Movement Company, “…a self-described ‘action-circus theatre’ group whose upcoming gallery show is as likely to appeal to lovers of fairy tales as to fans of death-defying stunts.” You won’t want to miss it!FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Hallmark Movie Improv with Topher Payne

Two shows for the price of one at Dad’s Garage! The first half is Dad’s classic long form improv show. The second half features Topher Payne, who is an Essential veteran, one of Atlanta’s premier playwrights and a (we’re totally being serious about this) Hallmark channel movie writer. Topher will narrate as the Dad’s gang improvise a Hallmark movie right before your eyes.

Shows on Dec 7 and Dec 21 at 10:30pm. for tickets.

UPDATE:  Dec 28 added performance was a success:


We’ve been named Best New Play Incubator of 2018 by Atlanta Magazine!

“Celebrating 20 seasons of developing new plays by Georgia playwrights, Essential Theatre has launched the careers of some of the nation’s most important contemporary writers.” -Atlanta Magazine


We’re so proud to have been named Best New Play Incubator of 2018 in December’s issue of Atlanta Magazine! It’s a heartwarming and inspiring way to round out an already pretty incredible year!



7 Stages opens 40th season with iconic Waiting for Godot

“Every time I see Godot, I become more convinced that its secret stars are Pozzo and Lucky (Bart Hansard and Matt Baum), the indelibly weird master and servant…Hansard makes a delightful comedic meal of the role, with dainty body language, infantile mood swings and puffed-up prideful moments.”
-Curt Holman, ArtsATL

Running now through October 14,  catch Essential family member Bart Hansard as Pozzo in 7 Stages’ 40th season opener, Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. Lots of other Essential friends have worked behind the scenes to bring this production to life as well: Efrem Whitaker (2010 Darker Face of the Earth and 2017 BeltLine & Beyond) and Jennifer Kimball (Essential Managing Director) make up the stage management team, and 2018 Festival designers Kacie Willis (sound design, Woke) and Josh Oberlander (Festival set design) also lent their support in the creation of the show.

The 2018 GODOT team on opening night at 7 Stages!

And there’s more Essential goodness in store in 7 Stages’ 40th season: Topher Payne’s Angry Fags returns to their stage in March 2019!