What Our Playwrights Say

John Mabey: “Tonight is the Atlanta premiere of my full-length play that runs throughout August! I just watched a final dress and came home extremely emotional in all the best ways.”

Anthony Lamarr White: “I was blown away by Wednesday night’s world premiere production of my play, Calming the Man, during the 2021 Essential Theatre Festival in Atlanta. The cast was amazing. The play’s direction was inspired. And the technical crew did a fabulous job of bringing my vision to life.
The play’s official opening will be Friday, and I can’t wait to see it again.”

Erin K. Considine: “Peter Hardy truly cares about cultivating Georgia talent. He has spent decades giving voice to local playwrights and actors, creating a venue for artists, designers, directors, and technicians to call home.  The Essential Theatre allowed me to bring my script, Raising the Dead, to life in front of an audience. Mounting a full production was a vital step in the process of new play development, and everyone on the Essential team was kind, creative, and hard working. Being a part of the 2021 Festival was not only a beacon during a very challenging time in our history, but this premiere was paradigm-shifting and potentially career-building for me, as well.  As an emerging playwright with a distinctly Southern voice, I will forever be grateful to Peter Hardy and the entire team at the Essential for allowing me to tell my stories here at home in Atlanta.”

Emily McClain: “I’m so proud of this production. Everyone involved is truly amazing- it’s been an incredible experience for me as a playwright and a theatre artist. I’m grateful. I hope audiences enjoy experiencing the world we built.”

Joshua Mikel: “Getting a piece through Essential has become sort of a rite of passage for the GA playwright I think. It’s an amazing and necessary thing to have a company that pulls from the local talent here, and I’m so stoked to be a part of it.”

Jordan Pulliam: “Seeing my play, Bat-Hamlet, produced by the Essential Theatre was one of the greatest thrills of my life. I’d hardly imagined any theatre anywhere could take the spectacle that was parading through my head and put it onto a stage for others to see, but the fine folks at Essential had the imagination, vision, and talent required to pull it off with style…To…see it begin its eventual conquest of a nation’s imagination is a truly beautiful thing.”

Lauren Gunderson: “So proud to be an alumna of Essential Theatre, run by the inestimable Peter Hardy. They produced my first plays and basically started my professional career. Support them if you value new plays, Georgia artists, and intimate/vibrant theatre!”

Valetta Anderson: “The Essential Theatre was the essential ingredient in furthering my career as a playwright and expanding my voice into film by providing the one thing that is missing from most new play’s development process, namely a full production. Without that essential production, “Leaving Limbo” would be as unrealized as a pre-digital era photograph languishing on a developed but not printed roll of film. “

Karla Jennings: “Most theater groups won’t risk producing new plays by unknowns; such productions usually require personal contacts or payments. Essential Theatre’s an exception. It’s dedicated to choosing new plays solely on merit and giving them professional treatment. It takes a risk so that Southern voices can be heard. Essential’s faith in playwrights strengthens their faith in themselves, which keeps them writing. Essential Theatre helps Georgia speak for itself.”

Karla Jennings: “Essential Theatre is the major force behind producing Georgia playwrights. Their productions are tremendous encouragement and has launched a number of playwrights who’ve gone national.”

Karen Wurl: “The Essential Festival is a boon to playwrights and audiences alike.”

Lauren Gunderson: “The entire process – from winning the Essential Theater’s Playwriting Award to the wonderful production my play received – was a complete thrill. As a writer it is so important to find theatre artists that want to see the best of your work and your work be its best. The professionalism with which the Essential Theatre handled my work and delivered a beautiful performance allowed me entrance into the world of playwriting. Their work also helped me immensely in rewriting my piece and finding the essence of what I wanted to convey. It was an honor to work with them and a huge boost for my work to have won the Playwriting prize. There is a definite need for groups like the Essential Theatre in Atlanta. As a Southern playwright I can’t thank them enough.”

James Beck: “Peter led the group in a constructive feedback session that allowed me as the playwright to experience my play, to question it and to gather new creative energy to apply in crafting the work. Peter did a great job of understanding that the playwright has to solve the riddle of the play but offered, through open discussion, some really great reflection about the piece.”

Diane Dexter: “It was a thrill to see characters who had previously lived in my head come to life, via extremely talented actors. Thank you, Essential Theatre, for sponsoring this series!”

Glen Slattery:“Essential Theatre provided a setting for several readings of the play that were crucial to its development. Gifted actors brought the roles to life, while feedback from Artistic Director Peter Hardy was invaluable in sharpening the dramatic focus.”

Gabriel Jason Dean: “Peter Hardy and the Essential Theatre were an invaluable help to me. A sharp playwright himself, Peter really knows how to talk to writers. He helped me get to the heart of my big and wild story. They are brave people who take a chance on risky material and Peter and the cast really went full throttle on my play. In the wasteland of unending readings and development conferences that make up the life of a young writer like me, I can’t express enough how truly helpful it is to see your work up on its feet–alive and kicking with all its beauty (and flaws). The Essential is committed to the future of theatre in Atlanta. They aren’t posers, letting young playwrights eat the crumbs from the table. They’re the real deal. They get their hands dirty and live/breathe/eat/sleep your play. Additionally, Peter surrounds himself with good people. His board goes above and beyond to help playwrights. The Essential is Atlanta’s best kept theatre secret.”

Bill Gibson:“The production of ‘Warts’ was superb under the wonderful direction of Lee Nowell, and with the performances of a first-rate cast! It was truly exciting to see ‘Warts’ brought to life on stage. Since the production, ‘Warts’ has been considered for production at several theatres.”

Hillary Simpson Bolle:“Having my play, The Wayfarers, chosen to be a part of the Bare Essentials Play Reading series proved to be one of the most fulfilling and productive adventures in my process.
It’s quite daunting to share ones work, especially as a new playwright, let alone turn it over to people you’ve never even met to be fleshed out, de-constructed, and re-set in front of you in a way that you, perhaps, never thought of.
The director assigned to my piece was a perfect fit, and the players she brought to the table were beyond my expectations.  I found the rehearsal process nurturing, and eye-opening in the best possible way.   I felt incredibly comfortable making necessary changes as we went along, and really learned to trust the instincts of others.
The feedback I received in the talk back after the reading was invaluable.  I felt completely safe in the hands of Peter Hardy leading the discussion, as he posed clear questions to the audience that were perfectly designed to help me bring the piece to a higher level – not rip it apart.   I have since taken every comment, critical and complimentary, and incorporated the feedback into my re-write, which has brought The Wayfarers to the level it needed to get to.
In the end, the most valuable thing that has happened as a result of this experience, is that I have really… really learned to trust the instincts of others, and also myself.  So thrilled with my experience — and so lucky to have Essential Theatre here in Atlanta, doing the work that they do.  They are one of a kind!”