Playwriting Award Winners

Slaying Holofernes by Emily McClain (2019)
This passionate and provocative drama spans four centuries as it tells the tales of two remarkable young women:  Amanda, struggling for justice and recognition in the offices of modern-day Atlanta, and the amazing true story of Artemesia Gentileschi, a painter in Renaissance Italy who took her rapist to trial.  A powerful look at how much some things have changed in 400 years – while others haven’t changed at all.

Babyshower for the Antichrist by Ben Thorpe (2019)
A horror comedy about a small group of incompetent devil-worshippers who are preparing for the birth of the Dark Lord when an newcomer arrives, thinking she’s been invited to an old friend’s baby shower.  Girl talk and plans for the “Hell Feast” lead to secrets coming out and a struggle for power, with surprising results.  Plus, there’s a talking goat … so that’s pretty cool.

Built to Float by Rachel Graf Evans (2018)
Tess quietly crusades to keep it together, working full time as a phlebotomist and caring for her ailing mother Marjorie, who likes to harp on Tess’s dormant dreams of becoming a doctor. Suddenly, her sister Roz shows back up from rehab, pledging high expectations and a clean slate. When stranger William, an echo of their deceased father, arrives in town with a tempting new offer of employment, Tess tries her best to keep everyone from going underwater. Everyone else, anyway.

Woke by Avery Sharpe (2018)
Woke follows two friends from different backgrounds who are trying to navigate the already rocky transition from high school to college. When a calamitous event captures national attention, they are forced to wrestle with their different understandings of social awareness. Through family, romance, and their own friendship, they painstakingly and comically explore what it truly means to be woke.

Another Mother by G. M. Lupo (2017)
This play follows the journey of Genevieve as she pieces together the mysterious identities and relationships between her biological mother, her birth mother and the mother who raised her.

Dispossessed by Karen Wurl (2016)
A romantic comic fantasy about a Yiddish theater company in the 1920s.  A young actress trying to decide between two suitors and her dreams of a career finds herself confronted with the living embodiment of the character she is portraying – a bride possessed by the spirit of a dead lover.  Girl talk ensues. Written by Karen Wurl, winner of the 2005 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award for MISS MACBETH.

When Things Are Lost by Derek Dixon (2016)
If someone you loved went missing, how far would you go to find them? A man goes on a dream quest to figure out what happened to his best friend, who seems to have disappeared.  Derek Dixon’s WHEN THINGS ARE LOST is a funny and moving play about friendship, loss, understanding and forgiveness.

Lillian Likes It by Joshua Mikel (2015)
Starting out as a satirical look at the world of social media, this quirky comedy takes a turn into deeper territory when Lillian thinks she may have found the perfect guy — unfortunately, he’s dead, but does that really matter if she can still chat with him online?

That Uganda Play by Theroun Patterson (2014)
An epic story that moves from America to Africa and back again, imagining the ghosts of war, political corruption and personal betrayal that might lie behind the recent anti-Gay legislation in the nation of Uganda, passed into law in February of 2014 and overturned on July 31!

Ravens and Seagulls by Karla Jennings (2014)
Three women face the final days of their ailing sister’s life in this moving family drama. Emotionally raw and sometimes painfully funny, it’s a transcendent study of love and mortality and survival.

Stray Dogs by Matthew Myers (2013)

Evelyn in Purgatory by Topher Payne (2012)

A Thousand Circlets by Theroun Patterson (2011)

Qualities of Starlight by Gabriel Jason Dean (2010)
2010 saw the World Premiere production of Gabriel Jason Dean’s twisted family comedy about a successful young astronomer who brings his wife home to the north Georgia mountains and the simple country household in which he grew up. And where his parents are now addicted to crystal meth.

Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings by Vynnie Meli (2009)
A powerful and provocative drama about an all-female jazz band touring the Deep South during World War II by Vynnie Meli. Winner of the Essential Theatre 2009 Playwriting Award.

West of Eden by Letitia Sweitzer (2008)
Letitia Sweitzer’s comedy about the world’s first dysfunctional family: Adam and Eve after the Fall. “What if Adam and Eve didn’t believe they were the first man and woman?” Winner of the 2008 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award.

Fix Me So I Can Stand by Jean Sterrett (2007)
This powerful drama by Jean Sterrett is based on the true story of an African-American man falsely convicted of a double homicide in 1970’s Georgia. Other plays by Ms. Sterrett have won the Los Angeles National Repertory Theater Foundation’s National Play Award, the Harold C. Crain National Award and the Onassis Foundation’s International Playwriting Competition. Jean Sterrett, winner of our 2007 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award competition, was recently named “Best Local Playwright” by Creative Loafing.

Charm School by Larry Larson and Eddie Levi Lee (2006)
In 2006 we had two prize-winners, and one of them — Larry Larson and Eddie Levi Lee’s CHARM SCHOOL, went on to a highly-acclaimed, sold-out second production at Atlanta’s Horizon Theatre. And just last month, CHARM SCHOOL was named winner of the Gene-Gabriel Moore Playwriting Award, part of the city-wide Suzi Bass Awards for professional theatre. The Essential Theatre’s contribution to the development of this important new play was mentioned several times in Larry Larson’s gracious acceptance speech.

Miss Macbeth by Karen Wurl (2005)

Background by Lauren Gunderson (2004)

Speaking Nazi by Karen Page (2003)

Warts by Bill Gibson (2002)

Parts They Call Deep by Lauren Gunderson (2001)