Audition Announcement

The Essential Theatre will be holding their general auditions for 2009 on Monday, March 9, from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. These will be for the three productions in their 2009 Power Plays Festival, to be presented in repertory from July 5 – August 2 in the Actor’s Express space. We are looking for Non-Union performers; all roles will be stipend-paid.

The three plays being presented will be:

ICE GLEN by Joan Ackermann, a romantic period drama about a poet who does not want her work published, and the editor who tries to persuade her otherwise.
GRAYSON, a butler in his fifties, kindly, gracious.
DENBY, in his twenties, lively and engaging, with the temperament of a child.
MRS. ROSWELL, Irish cook in her fifties, warm, blunt.
SARAH HARDING, a poet in her thirties, e arthy, fiery.
DULCE BAINBRIDGE, a widow in her thirties, pretty, genteel.
PETER WOODBURN, an editor in his forties, handsome, intellectual.

FOOD FOR FISH by Adam Szymkowicz, a melancholy comedy about longing. Some roles are designed to be portrayed by performers of the opposite sex.
BOBBIE, a writer, passionate and lonely young man.
BARBARA, thirties for forties, agoraphobic (to be played by a man).
ALICE, twenties or thirties, scientist.
SYLVIA, twenties, reporter.
DEXTER, thirties or forties, husband to Barbara (to be played by a woman).
SASHA, twenties or thirties, also plays several different women and men.

JIM CROW AND THE RHYTHM DARLINGS by Vynnie Meli. Drama about an all-female jazz band touring the Deep South during World War Two.
PEGGY, African-American woman in her twenties or thirties.
VI, African-American woman in her twenties or thirties.
BLANCHE, Jewish woman in her twenties or thirties.
JEROME, African-American man in his thirties or forties.
POLICEMAN, a white man.

(Please note – while JIM CROW deals with racial issues and will be cast according to the racial types listed above, both FOOD FOR FISH and ICE GLEN will be open to non-traditional casting.)

The auditions will be held in the “Blue Room” lounge of Horizon Theatre. That’s a room at the bottom of the stairs, on the basement level of the building that Hori zon Theatre is located in, at 1083 Austin Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30307. For directions, visit Please prepare two contrasting monologues with a total running time of not more than 4 minutes.

To make audition appointments, call 404-212-0815 or e-mail


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2009 Power Plays Festival Lineup

The 2009 Essential Theatre Power Plays includes our Playwriting Award Winner, JIM CROW AND THE RHYTHM DARLINGS by Vinnie Meli, as well as ICE GLEN by Joan Ackermann.  She’s a playwright who’s been produced around the country for some years now – Horizon did her play THE BATTING CAGE a few years back.  This one’s a romantic drama, set in 1919, about a reclusive poetess who does not want her poems published, and the editor to tries to persuade her otherwise.  That may sound rather dry and dusty, but it’s immensely charming, touching and very funny.

  • “Beautifully written…a story of nature and change.” —Talkin’ Broadway.
  • “A lovely play which will leave you with a lot to think about.” —CurtainUp.
  • “Funny, moving and witty.” —Metroland (Boston).

The third play is FOOD FOR FISH, by Adam Szymkowwicz   It’s hard to describe – The New York Times put it well in their review:  “Fabulously weird and weirdly fabulous.”  I’d call it a melancholy comedy about longing.  Three NYC sisters wish they could return to New Jersey (there’s a lot of Chekhov vibes in the play); a young writer prowls around the city, looking for lonely single women to kiss on street corners; a twentyish female scientist goes on dates with a different man every night, while during the day she works to isolate the human gene that makes people fall in love – she wants to control it, so you can choose who you fall in love with.  There’s also some characters designed to be played by actors of the opposite sex – men playing women, and vice versa.  This isn’t for drag-show comedy, but it does allow for some interestingly comical shifts in our perspectives on what men and women are supposed to be like.  Like I said, hard to describe, but it’s funny and quirky and could also be beautiful – my favorite kind of play.

Peter Hardy

READING: Plagued, A Love Story by Vynnie Meli

Plagued A Love Story
Book and lyrics by Vynnie Meli [2009 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award Winner]
Music by Casey Filiaci
Directed by Susan Reid
Cinderella celebrates her 20th anniversary to a man who isn’t always so charming. And Cinderella’s daughter, Dust Bunny, takes on an even greater challenge: the Bubonic Plague. Dust Bunny has to say goodbye to the handsome chronicler, and any chance of finding a cure, when her Queen Grandmother forces her to marry a rich old Prince. Fairy Godmother comes out of retirement in sunny south Florida to convince Dust Bunny she doesn’t have to wait for someone else to turn her life into a fairy tale. The princess uses a little ingenuity to defy the Queen, get the boy, and save the world.

Monday Feb. 16th at 7:30
The Academy Theatre
119 Center Street, Avondale Estates, Georgia 30002

Free to WTP or Pay What You Can.
These readings are to help playwrights gain insight into the development of their plays with the help of you, the invited audience, providing feedback on your experience with the script, and rough music, as produced in a concert reading.


Artistic Director Peter Hardy lectures at Emory’s Brave New Works program

On Feburary 5, Essential Theatre’s Artistic Director Peter Hardy took part in a panel discussion on new play development, along with celebrated national authors Thomas Gibbons and Joseph Skibell. This was for a theatre class at Emory University and was connected to Brave New Works, a new play development program that is presented by Theatre Emory every two years, bringing in playwrights from around the country.


Essential Theatre Welcomes Your Support

Essential Theatre is very proud of its reputation for presenting high quality productions of new works including a world premiere by a Georgia Playwright. We employ a diverse group of participants and cater to a diverse audience.

To help us further promote our mission and grow our company, Essential Theatre is actively seeking four to six new board members. Although not required, Essential Theatre hopes to find persons who fall into one or more of the following categories: An entrepreneur who has successfully started and run a small business. A person with management experience in a large corporation that may be interested in charitable giving and/or corporate sponsorship. A person well seated in the community who has contacts with community philanthropists with a history of or an interest in supporting the arts. A person with a strong experience in marketing, preferably in marketing for a non profit organization. A person with skills in Event Planning or Fundraising.

Board Members should have a passion for new plays, and are asked to attend a majority of quarterly board meetings, attend company productions, support the company with a financial contribution and help the company with fund raising activities. As always, Essential is an equal opportunity organization and seeks Board Members without regard to sex, race, creed or sexual orientation. Anyone interested in becoming one of the newest Board Members of Essential Theatre should forward their resume to Artistic Director, Peter Hardy at If you know of any qualified person who may be interested in serving in this capacity, please forward this notice to them.


2009 Playwriting Award Winner Announced

The Essential Theatre is pleased to announce that Vynnie Meli’s play JIM CROW AND THE RHYTHM DARLINGS has been chosen as the winner of the 2009 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award competition. Vynnie will receive a cash prize of $600.00 and her play will be produced as part of the Essential Theatre’s 2009 Power Plays Festival, to be presented in July of 2009 at the Actor’s Express performance space.

The story of JIM CROW AND THE RHYTHM DARLINGS centers on the members of an all-female jazz band, touring through the Deep Sou th during World War Two. The musicians are all African-American except for one Jewish woman, who has to disguise herself to fit in with the rest of the group, at a time when “mixed-race” bands weren’t tolerated anywhere in the United States. (This was also a time when women weren’t commonly accepted into the all-male world of jazz music.)

With the most submissions we’ve ever received, it was exceptionally difficult to make our final decision this year. The Essential Theatre would like to thank all the playwrights who sent us their work, and we’ll be doing our best to contact each of them individually.

Peter Hardy
Artistic Director
Essential Theatre


Dramatist Guild Report from Atlanta

Dramatists Guild of America
Regional Report from Atlanta
Pamela Turner
July 2, 2008
New Play Festivals can be a playwright’s best friend or they can be the crassest means for a theatre to benefit on the backs of the eternally hopeful. In the first case, the playwright can get exposure and a chance to learn more about her work. In the latter, the play is just fodder for someone else’s money cow: be it a grant, a newly oriented mission statement, or some coins toward last season’s deficit. Fortunately, there are Forces of Good positioned throughout the country to face off the forces of evil (those guys will get no capital letters from me). Examples of these Golden Kingdoms in the SE Region are the small, as in the Essential Theatre in Atlanta, and the large, as in the Alabama Shakespeare Festival Southern Writer’s Project in Montgomery. Though a budgetary Mutt and Jeff, these two theatres have a few very important things in common. Each is committed to producing new work, each includes a development component to the process, each encourages participation by the playwright, each has a regional emphasis, and each holds a high opinion of playwrights even before they’re20famous. Imagine that, Mama!
The Essential Theatre Power Plays Festival is only a stone-throw away—just navigate through impossible in-town-Atlanta traffic till you get to Little Five Points, a true counter-culture melting pot where a bong is still available in a shop next to the place with the $200 Nikes, park by the huge 22 x 145-foot Singing in the Dark mural painted by David Fichter in 1992, and stroll past the 7 Stages Theatre box office on the way to their 65-seat Back Stage Theatre. There the ten-year old Essential Theatre, under the helm of Founding Artistic Director Peter Hardy, produces its month-long Festival each summer, featuring a repertory of three new plays running in rotation. Although some of the plays have been produced elsewhere and may be by “known” writers, they are all at least regional premieres and one of the pieces is always by a Georgia Playwright. To emphasize their commitment to local writers and in order to encourage “the creation of new dramatic literature”, Essential inaugurated the annual Essential Theatre Playwriting Award in 2001, dedicated exclusively to Georgia playwrights. The winning play, chosen from open submissions, is a world premiere that provides local performance teams “the chance to work on exciting new plays” and also allows an interested audience to participate in the development starting with open workshops and staged readings, and right through to the full productions. The winning playwright receives a cash award of $500 in lieu of royalties for the approximately 12 performances. As an added benefit, Hardy submits the festival plays into consideration for The Metropolitan Atlanta Theater Awards, established in 2004 to recognize local playwrights as well as actors, directors, tech staff, and choreographers. The Metropolitan folks have limited some of the categories for the “best of the best” awards, but they (brilliantly) allow for unlimited submissions of original work productions. Just ready to open, the 2008 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award winner is West of Eden by Letitia Sweitzer, a “clever, insightful comedy about the world’s first dysfunctional family.” The Power Plays productions are minimalist and well-regarded, with an emphasis on showcasing the script. One of the reasons the Essential Theatre is so playwright friendly is that Hardy is one himself, as well as an actor and director. He reports that “by the late 1990s, I’d already won a few contests [including a stint at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in 1993 with his play Mysterious Connections], gone through some development programs, and seen my work produced.” He decided he wanted to workshop plays as part of the Festival because he hoped to “provide writers with the kind of support and helpful experiences I’d like to receive with my own plays. From what I’ve seen, a bad (or wrong-headed) production or workshop can do a writer more harm than good.” He says that although “Production wo rk is our primary goal…we’re hoping to be able to give more time and resources to development work as well.” Starting with the first Essential Theatre Playwriting Award winner, a 19-year old Lauren Gunderson, Hardy has been shrewd in his selections and devoted in his support of other playwrights. As I waited to see the first of this year’s Power Plays, he mentioned that although he could do it, it wouldn’t “seem right” to spend all these resources producing plays all written by Peter Hardy.

Playreading: “Own Personal Hero” by Pamela Turner

October 19th 8:00pm
Me Own Personal Hero by Pamela Turner
As part of Georgia Open Arts Month,Go ARTS    the Essential Theatre in conjunction with Working Title Playwrights will be hosting a FREE playreading of Pamela Turner’s ME OWN PERSONAL HERO, a script we’ve been workshopping.  It will be held at Horizon Theatre 8:00 p.m., Oct. 19, .  A discussion lead by playwright Pamela Turner, director Peter Hardy and James Beck will follow the reading.
Musician — Patricia McLaughlin
Seamus Monaghan – Alex Van
Padraic McCarry – Peter Hardy
Paddy Kearney – Kate Graham
Seamey Monaghan – Nick Arapoglou
Stage Directions – Kelly Young
Georgia Open Arts Month is your October-long chance to GO see theater, music, dance, exhibits, festivals & more goin’s on in greater Atlanta & all of Georgia.  Thousands of Discount & Free admissions for over 100 arts & entertainment events! change.

2009 Power Plays Festival Update  Essential Theatre is proud to announce that the 11th Annual Power Plays Festival will be held July 2009 at Actor’s Express. This space can accomodate our growing audiences and offers free parking. More details will be shared as they become available. More information about the Playwriting Award Winner and other fesitval plays will be released soon. 


Working Title Playwrights Invitaton

I know the Power Plays Festival is underway, and I have told all my WTPers that I intend to see all three plays after Tuesday (once I have the first of my two readings accomplished), but I’m hoping to entice you to one of the two of Daphne Mintz’s play, In Lieu of Flowers. It’s the first of our two Summer Reading Series selections will be read at Actor’s Express this coming Monday and Tuesday, 7:30pm.

Daphne Mintz’s romantic drama, In Lieu of Flowers, asks many questions about love and commitment and the possible moral ambiguities inherent in both.

“A touching story immersed in a small community. Obviously a writer who understands that loving her characters without judgment is important.” — Celise Kalke.

“I really like the mix of humor and heartache, and the earthiness of the characters — I appreciate their frankness at times…” — Caleb Boyd.

“In Lieu of Flowers is a beautiful meditation on love and our attempts to find it, keep it, and cope when it is gone. Daphne’s funny and touching play allows us to see that family and relationships are like flowers — diverse, colorful, and filled with hidden meanings.” — (director) Betty Hart

I truly love this script and think Daphne is a talent on the rise. I also think that, while it’s still got some room to grow, it’s one of the best scripts WTP has ever produced and I am quite proud of that.

WTP is a changed and changing organism. We now have 52 members – unbelievable! – and most of those new members are younger, about half of them African-American, and a little more than half female. What’s most exciting to me about this growth is that these younger, culturally diverse writers are writing and with a purpose.

I hope to see you at either reading — the cast includes LaParee Young, Lorilyn Harper, Will Cobbs, Eugene Russell with narration by Emmy-award nominated writer / spoken word poet Jon Goode.
Jill Patrick