Help us put an end to our loooong Facebook URL

Now that’s a mouthful. With only 925 more fans, Facebook will allow us to become [not yet active] We need your help to put an end to the awful URL above. Take a second click on the link and click “Become a Fan” along the left side of the page. We plan to have special Facebook fan discounts as well as discounts for those who follow us on Twitter @ATL_Essential


11th Annual Essential Theatre Play Festival Opens Soon

In just a few weeks, the 11th Annual Essential Theatre Play Festival will be opening, playing for the first time at the King Plow Art Center in the Actor’s Express space. We’ll be running July 5-August 2 — please visit for details or follow us on Twitter ATL_Essential for the latest information.

FOOD FOR FISH by Adam Szymkowicz, opening July 5. Regional Premiere.
Directed by Peter Hardy
Featuring: Kelly Criss, Kate Graham, Eve Krueger, Brent Nicholas Rose, Charles Swint and Sarah Falkenburg Wallace.
Bobbie is a lonely young man living in New York, trying to write about three sisters who long to escape the city and return to their childhood home of New Jersey … or is he really just an imaginary character in the mind of Sylvia, the youngest sister? Middle sister Alice is hopelessly in love with the husband of her older sister, and so she goes out on dates with a different man every night, working in her lab by day to isolate the human gene that makes us fall in love … so she can control it! Oldest sister Barbara (played by a man) and her husband (played by a woman) can’t figure out how men and women are supposed to relate to each other. This is the kind of play we love to do at the Essential – funny and beautiful and just about impossible to describe. The New York Times did it best, calling it “Fabulously weird and weirdly fabulous.”

Next to open, on July 10, will be ICE GLEN by Joan Ackermann. Regional Premiere.
Directed by Ellen McQueen
Featuring: Jo Howarth, Dina Shadwell, Jayson Smith, Spencer G. Stephens, Jim Starbh and Ann Wilson.
Sarah Harding lives in an isolated country cottage, surrounded by a warm circle of quietly eccentric friends. She may be America’s greatest poet, but no one’s ever seen her work … which is just the way she wants it. But now an editor has arrived from Boston, wanting to publish her poems and bring her the fame and fortune she has never sought. With unforgettable characters, this wonderfully funny romantic drama — about the frozen places in our hearts coming back to life again — is like the best Emma Thompson movie you never saw. “Beautifully written.” Talkin’ Broadway. “A lovely play.” CurtainUp

Opening July 15 will be JIM CROW AND THE RHYTHM DARLINGS by Vynnie Meli. World Premiere.
Directed by Betty Hart
Featuring: Rachel Bodenstein, Enisha Brewster, Daniel Burnley, DeAndrea Crawford, Nadir Mateen, Delesa Sims
It’s World War Two, and with so many men going off to serve, the previously all-male world of jazz is opening up to women for the first time. The International Rhythm Darlings are an all-female African-American band touring the Deep South, which would be a tough situation in the best of times … but now they’ve got a last-minute replacement in the group, a white Jewish woman, and integrated bands aren’t allowed to play together on stage. Not in the South, not anywhere.

Inspired by the real-life experiences of musicians from that era, Vynnie Meli’s play takes a fascinating look at some extraordinary women who make their way past fear and hatred to find the common threads that bind them together. Winner of the 2009 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award competition, the only prize exclusively dedicated to the work of Georgia playwrights. The Essential Theatre is proud to have developed this play (along with Working Title Playwrights and Jewish Theatre of the South) and to be bringing it to the stage for the first time.


Best Local Playwrights: Sunday Paper recognizes a few of Atlanta’s talented playwrights.

The Essential Theatre wants to congratulate Lauren Gunderson for being named Best Local Playwright in the Sunday Paper’s Reader’s Poll — and Valetta Anderson for being named runner-up!

Lauren won the Essential Theatre Playwriting Award in 2001 (for PARTS THEY CALL DEEP) and 2004 (for BACKGROUND). Valetta won in 2006, for LEAVING LIMBO.

All the best to both these writers, and may they have continued success in their field.

In the meantime, look out for our World Premiere production of Vynnie Meli’s JIM CROW AND THE RHYTHM DARLINGS, winner of this year’s contest. It’ll be part of the 11th Annual Essential Theatre Festival, playing July 5 – August 2 at Actor’s Express.

For more information, visit


Kudos for Essential Theatre Playwriting Award Winners Karla Jennings and Lauren Gunderson

The Essential Theatre wants to congratulate Atlanta playwright Karla Jennings on winning the Pillars Playwriting Prize for her script “The Smiles.” This award is sponsored by the Creative Writing Program in the Department of English, Speech and Journalism at Georgia College and State University. Karla will receive an honorarium of $2,000.00 and her play will be produced at the College.

The Essential Theatre chose Karla’s play “Images In Smoke” for production in 2000, making it the second winner of our annual competition for Georgia playwrights (though we weren’t officially calling it the Essential Theatre Playwriting Award yet). That production was named by Creative Loafing’s Curt Holman as being one of the fifteen best shows of that year.

Karla went on to win the Playwrights First Award (given by New York’s National Arts Club) for her play “The Ruby Vector.” We wish her all the best in her continued success.

In more good news for Essential Playwrights, Lauren Gunderson (winner of the 2001 and 2004 Essential Theatre Playwriting Awards, for “Parts They Call Deep” and “Background”) just had the World Premiere of her play “Emilie” at the very prestigious South Coast Repertory in California. Congratulations to Lauren as well!

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2009 Essential Theatre New Play Festival

Sunday, July 5
7:00pm Food For Fish

Monday, July 6

8:00pm Food For Fish

Tuesday, July 7

Wednesday, July 8

Thursday, July 9

Friday, July 10
8:00pm Ice Glen

Saturday, July 11
8:00pm Food For Fish

Sunday, July 12
7:00pm Ice

Monday, July 13

Tuesday, July 14

Wednesday, July 15
8:00pm Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings

Thursday, July 16
8:00pm Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings

Friday, July 17
8:00pm Food For Fish

Saturday, July 18
8:00pm Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings

Sunday, July 19
2:00pm Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings
7:00pm Food For Fish

Monday, July 20
8:00pm Ice Glen

Tuesday, July 21

Wednesday, July 22

Thursday, July 23

Friday, July 24
8:00pm Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings

Saturday, July 25
2:00pm Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings
8:00pm Ice Glen

Sunday, July 26

2:00pm Food For Fish
7:00pm Ice Glen

Monday, July 27
8:00pm Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings

Tuesday, July 28
8:00pm Food For Fish

Wednesday, July 29
8:00pm Ice Glen

Thursday, July 30
8:00pm Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings

Friday, July 31
8:00pm Ice Glen

Saturday, August 1, 2009
2:00pm Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings
8:00pm Food for Fish

Sunday, August 2,

Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings

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