Meet the Playwright: Courtney Earl

Courtney Earl wrote tonight’s Bare Essentials reading, Aposteriori. Read on to learn a little more about tonight’s playwright and play!

Hi Courtney! Can you tell us a little about yourself, both personally and professionally?
I got hooked on playwrighting in college when I entered Kennesaw State University’s “Ten Minute Play Festival.” I have been submitting my work to festivals at professional theatres ever since then. I graduated with a BA in Philosophy and a BA in theatre. I got the philosophy degree to improve my writing, and through the marriage of these two degrees I have tried to produce meaningful work. When I am not writing plays, I’m working as a scenic painter, puppeteer, puppet designer and chef.

In your own words, can you tell us a little about the play we’ll be seeing?
Aposteriori is a term to describe knowledge that can only be understood through experience. This play uses Plato’s Allegory of the Cave as a device to frame the process of learning about the existence of rape culture. The process of escaping the hypothetical cave of ignorance is described as excruciating, but once a prisoner learns the truth, they can never go back to living in the cave of ignorance. Rape culture is often not understood without Aposteriori knowledge. Once someone gains that knowledge, as painful as it is, it is impossible to go back to denying it exists. This play follows a group of college students (the age group most likely to experience rape. 1in 4 women experience rape. Among college students, it is 1 in 2) who discover that there is a serial rapist on campus. In their efforts to discover who the rapist is and stop him, they also discover how rape culture has allowed for these crimes to go unpunished for as long as they have.

Where did you get the idea for this play? What made you want to write it?
My own experiences with rape culture inspired it. I had hoped some good would come out of putting this play on. I wanted people to see that there is very little justice for victims, and in addition realize that victims aren’t usually in a mentally stable enough place, post-incident, to seek what little justice could be available for them. Which is why they need strong allies who understand what it is they are going through enough to help them.

How did you get into playwriting?
I entered a play in the Ten Minute Play Festival at Kennesaw State University. I’ve been hooked ever since.

What is the importance of staged readings in your own creative process and the development of your play?
I need to see where the play doesn’t flow, where details don’t add up, and how to make the play impactful without traumatizing my audience.
What do you hope to gain from this Bare Essentials experience?
I hope I can gain the insight I need to make the final revisions on this play.
Where else can we see your work, either recently, currently or in the coming year(s)?
I’m in the process of writing a few new plays now. If all goes well, I will be submitting my work to festivals in Wisconsin and Atlanta.

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Aposteriori will be read at the West End Performing Arts Center tonight at 7:30pm. Directed by Kati Grace Brown. All readings are free and open to the public, donations gladly accepted.


Suryana Cuisine + Essential Theatre July 27

This Friday,  July 27,  join Essential Theatre as we kick off opening weekend of the 20th Essential Theatre Play Festival right, with a special preshow reception provided by Suryana Cuisine.

Join us at 6:00 for a half-hour presentation and update about the Syrian Refugee Theatre Project we started this past spring thanks to a grant from Turner Voices, and use promo code TEN to stay and see the opening night performance of Built to Float for just $10! Enjoy great food and conversation; hear about this exciting new project Essential has under way; and help us get the 20th Annual Essential Theatre Play Festival off to the start it deserves.

It will be an incredible evening of fun, food, and fellowship celebrating all the richness, talent and diversity that Georgia has to offer.  We’ll see you at the theatre!

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What: 20th Festival Opening Night:  Preshow Reception at 6, catered by Suryana Cuisine*, followed by opening night of the World Premiere of Built to Float by Rachel Graf Evans at 8.
Where: West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd, Atlanta, GA
When: Friday, July 27, 2018, 6-8pm
*Reception is free, no RSVP required. Purchase tickets for the show at

program supported in part by


What’s Essential in July 2018?

The 2018 Essential Theatre Play Festival opens THIS MONTH!

The twentieth annual Essential Theatre Play Festival is almost here! Festival passes and individual tickets are now on sale. Get yours today!

Essential Artists Onstage

Are you an Essential artist? Would you like us to feature your work in our email newsletter? Let us know! Email with details about projects you’d like us to share.

In Atlanta:

The latest scripted show at Dad’s Garage, Black Nerd opens Friday July 13 and runs through August 4. Featuring 2018 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award (co)winner Avery Sharp in the title role. “When race and geekdom collide you get a Black Nerd.”



Opening August 10 at Out of Box.
A hit with Essential audiences when it premiered as part of the 2012 Festival, BatHamlet is back in town! Brought to you this time around by Out of Box Theatre.



And Beyond:

The Georgia Theatre Conference, the official theatre organization for the state of Georgia, is pleased to announce that playwright and screenwriter Topher Payne will be inducted into the Georgia Theatre Hall of Fame at the 54th Annual Georgia Theatre Conference in Savannah hosted by Georgia Southern University Armstrong Campus. The GA Hall of Fame recognizes working professionals and educators who have made a significant impact to theatre and or/theatre education in Georgia and the US, and who have ties to the state of Georgia.


A Message for Mother’s Day, from Essential’s Artistic Director Peter Hardy: 

My mother, Martha Nell Hardy, was an actress, educator and producer, with a lifelong passion for the theatre. For twenty years now I’ve been producing the annual Essential Theatre Festival, and that’s one of the ways in which I’ve tried to honor her memory.

Last year the Martha Nell Hardy Memorial Fund was established by an anonymous donor, with a gift of $10,000, to honor my mother and to provide financial stability and resources to the Essential Festival, a project that she supported and deeply believed in.

If you have a love of theatre and believe in our mission to develop and produce new plays by Georgia writers, I hope you will consider honoring your own mother by making a contribution to the Martha Nell Hardy Memorial Fund

Thank you,


Syrian Refugee Theatre Project

Join Essential Theatre at 7pm on Thursday, April 12, 2018 in Angora Hall at the Clarkston Community Center

if you’re interested in finding out more about this project, networking, and exploring opportunities to get involved.

RSVP here.

About the Project:
Essential Theatre is beginning Phase 1 of a project on the subject of Syrian refugees, and we are looking for team members!
Thanks to support from Turner Voices, over the next three months we will be building relationships with and gathering the stories, insights and perspectives of Syrian refugees and their families from around metro-Atlanta through one-on-one interviews, story circles and community activities. We are interested in meeting any and all Syrian refugees, including those who came to Georgia by way of other countries first, those who have been here for years, and relatively new arrivals.
This phase of our larger Syrian Refugee Theatre Project will culminate in a multi-day intensive workshop retreat and a public presentation during the week of June 20 (World Refugee Day)

About Us:
Essential Theatre is the only theatre company exclusively dedicated to producing work by Georgia playwrights. We’ve been around for decades and are most well known for our annual play festival: this summer will be our 20th, in fact!
As for the “we” referenced in the project description: Essential is the umbrella organization,  Jennifer Kimball is the project coordinator, and we are in the process of collecting team members for this project right now. That’s why we’re reaching out to you, in fact: we will need people willing to share their stories, of course, but we are also looking for story collectors/interviewers, story sorters, translators and artists and writers willing to put together the public performance at the end. Training and support will be provided each step of the way, but we want to make sure we have all the project’s stakeholders represented in our creative team, not just Essential Theatre.

Our Ask(s):

  • Join us this Thursday, April 12, from 7-8:00pm at the Clarkston Community Center in Angora Hall to find out more about the project, network, and explore opportunities for involvement.
  • We are looking for guest speakers for a knowledge/context sharing speaker series in April and May. This speaker series will be free, accessible and open to the public. If you’re interested in attending the series or being a guest speaker, contact!
  • We will need story sharers, story collectors, translators, musicians and other artists in the coming months. If you are interested in any of these roles, we hope you’ll join us on Thursday evening or contact to start a conversation.
  • If you are a refugee or refugee service community member, we are interested in finding ways we can work together deeply and meaningfully, and not just create a theatre project. If there’s a way that our project can forward your goals, we are interested in finding out.

Thanks for reading!
We look forward to meeting you on Thursday!


Meet the Playwright: Avery Sharpe

Avery Sharpe is an actor and recently a playwright from Atlanta, GA. After studying Acting and Spanish at Kennesaw State University, he has performed at a variety of stages across Atlanta. Some of his recent credits include: Pearl Cleage’s Tell Me My Dream (Alliance Theatre), A Bucket of Blessings (Alliance Theatre), and Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet (Actor’s Express). He has also done voiceover work and various commercials in the TV/Film world, but can be found most frequently at Dad’s Garage Improv Theatre where he performs weekly as a company member. As a playwright, he has discovered a passion for telling stories that echo the beautiful complexity of humanity, which is why he is excited to be making his debut as a playwright with Woke. He looks forward to writing more compelling stories in the future, and he wants to thank all of the brilliant minds and generous hearts that have supported him throughout this journey.

Tell us a little bit about the play we’ll be seeing this summer.
Woke is a play that follows two friends from different backgrounds who are trying to navigate the already rocky transition from high school to college. When a calamitous event captures national attention, they are forced to wrestle with their different understandings of social awareness. Through family, romance, and their own friendship, they painstakingly and comically explore what it truly means to be woke.
Where did you get the idea for this play? What made you want to write it?
 The idea for this play originated out of confusion about the best way to reconcile people to one another when they feel misunderstood or even disrespected. I was mentally perturbed with the destructive paradox of people being too stubborn or prideful to admit when they were wrong about an issue but also people being way too quick to sever relationships based on differences in viewpoint. As I confronted the myriad of problems with the few solutions, Woke began to emerge and input from smart and caring friends and colleagues helped to get it where it is today. Ultimately, this play ended up being both an inquiry and an imagining of how people engage each other in tough, complicated conversations and still find the grace to humble themselves regardless of being “right or wrong”, which is closer than I ever hoped to get when I first started writing.
How did you get into playwriting?
Honestly, this is my first playwriting venture, and I wouldn’t even consider myself a playwright by any means. In undergrad, I had experience writing solo performance pieces which always turned out fine, but I didn’t really try my hand at playwriting until this piece. As I neared the end of undergrad, I postulated that any marginalized person who thinks they even MAYBE could write should try it out. Many of my colleagues and I frequently talked about the lack of representation in stories that were written so it seems I finally got around to caving in to the peer pressure.
Are you working on any new projects at the moment? What’s next for you?
 In regards to playwriting, I am in the researching stage of a new play that centers around the shocking statistic of U.S. farmer suicide rates being twice as high than that of U.S. Veterans. As I develop that, I will hopefully have continued success furthering my acting career.
Where else can we see your work, either recently, currently or in the coming year(s)?
 Since I a primarily a performer, I can be seen on stage or on screen or on sound waves around Atlanta. Most recently, I was a voiceover co-star in season 3 of the family-friendly adventure podcast “Miss Rory’s Story Emporium” which can be found on iTunes. Most frequently, I can be found at Dad’s Garage Improv Theatre where I am a company member.
What made you decide to submit your play to the Essential Theatre Playwriting Contest?
I submitted for this because I deeply appreciate the vision and mission of this competition. I think giving local new works an accessible avenue to be seen is of paramount importance to the lifeblood of our great theatre community, and I think Essential Theatre is among the frontrunners in Atlanta to do that. At the very least, I wanted to support that mission so I figured it would be good to go out on a limb and submit my piece as part of the beautiful tapestry of great new work that this community has to offer.
Are there any thoughts you’d like to share about having your play produced for the first time?
I am humbled and flabbergasted. Like…whoa. I feel like a father whose infant just said “dada”.
How did you find out about Essential and the playwriting contest?
This is one of the most prolific playwriting competitions in Atlanta if not the state so I have had numerous friends and colleagues participate in this festival from actors to competition winners. Not to mention, I have seen multiple plays that this contest has produced.

Avery’s play, Woke, is a co-winner of the 2018 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award and premieres August 4, 2018 as part of the 20th Essential Theatre Play Festival.