Founding Artistic Director Peter Hardy recalls:

We opened our first Festival in January of 1999, and from the start we knew we wanted to produce at least one new play by a Georgia writer every year.  Back then, we called it the Festival of New American Theatre, because the name “Essential Theatre” didn’t mean much to anyone yet, and because our mission was to bring American plays to Atlanta that hadn’t been yet been seen in this part of the country. And part of our mission was to annually produce the World Premiere of one new play by a Georgia writer.

A Look Back at the 1999 Festival