Beverly Austin is Co-Winner of the 2020 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award and now, three years later, is finally seeing her Award-Winning Script’s World Premiere. Read on to learn a little more about Beverly and the play you’ll be seeing in August!
ET: Hi Beverly, welcome back! You won the Essential Theatre Playwriting Award back in 2020…How does it feel to know that your play will finally be having its world premiere later this summer?
BA: I’m thrilled. Ellen McQueen and Peter Hardy are two of the best people working…So to have the chance to actually work with them is the highlight, the joy, of this time. I’m in very good hands here – excellent hands.
ET: Where did you get the idea for this play? What made you want to write it?
BA: You know, I’m a native Atlantan for generations back on my mother’s side. My great-grandfather had a yard full of chickens on Peachtree Street where the Bank of America building now stands. My Uncle Glenn had his professorship threatened and crosses burned in his yard for attempting voter registration in the 1940s.
The Wishing Place is drawn from my memories of visiting my father’s family in Byron, Georgia. We traveled there every weekend during hunting and fishing seasons. His family were peach growers and packers, while we only raised bird dogs and quail back at our home in South Atlanta.
Since my first two scripts was produced in London in 1974, I’ve had over three dozen productions of my plays– many set and performed in far-flung places. Still, the experience of Middle Georgia– plucking shot out of quail, pulling up bream from a muddy lake– they still linger.
ET: How did you first get into playwriting?
BA: I loved coming up with make-believe stories and physically staging them as a young child. I knew I wanted to be a “playwright” by the age of 15. After working my way through college, in an ad agency for three years, I went to London and dove in with, happily, two of my scripts professionally produced. I couldn’t afford one of the rare theatrical MFA’s in that era, but I would still advise all young playwrights to not only attend as many shows as possible, but also to work props, costumes, lights, box office, and sweep as many stages as they can.
ET: Are you working on any new projects at the moment? Aside from the Essential Festival this summer, what’s next for you?
BA: I’m working on several musical scripts, including Cakewalk, which was chosen for a Yip Harburg Foundation grant and workshopped at the Atlanta Musical Theatre Festival. Check out my website: beverlyaustin.net
ET: Well we are so excited to bring this play to fruition with you. Congratulations! We can’t wait to see your long-awaited world premiere very soon!
Beverly’s play, The Wishing Place, will premiere as part of the 2023 Essential Theatre Play Festival and opens Friday August 18 at 7Stages Theatre. Tickets are on sale now at EssentialTheatre.Tix.com.