Julia Fracassi can’t get to sleep. Her insomnia has ruined the relationship with her boyfriend and has made her miserable. With guidance from her friend Dr. Midge, she embarks on a hilarious journey to Venice to find answers. Come along for the journey. Learn More.
Dr. Midge’s recommendations are anything but orthodox. So, we’d like to ask for your help. Please post comments with your suggestions. Dr. Midge will consider all your suggestions and offer two free tickets to any Essential Theatre Festival performance for the best advice. We need your advice prior to July 4th, so we can help Julia get a good night’s sleep.
The Essential Theatre is proud to announce that the winner of the 2010 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award competition is Gabriel Dean’s Qualities of Starlight, a modern southern family comedy. Gabriel Dean has been working for some years on the Atlanta scene as an actor and playwright, and is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in the Playwriting Program at the University of Texas in Austin. His play Buy My House – Please! Is currently running at the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville. Mr. Dean will receive a cash prize of $600.00 and Qualities of Starlight will be produced as part of the 2010 Essential Theatre Play Festival, running at the Actor’s Express space in July and August of next year.
JIM CROW AND THE RHYTHM DARLINGS by Vynnie Meli. World Premiere. Directed by Betty Hart
Featuring: Rachel Bodenstein, Enisha Brewster, Daniel Burnley, DeAndrea Crawford, Nadir Mateen, Delesa Sims
It’s World War Two, and with so many men going off to serve, the previously all-male world of jazz is opening up to women for the first time. The International Rhythm Darlings are an all-female African-American band touring the Deep South, which would be a tough situation in the best of times … but now they’ve got a last-minute replacement in the group, a white Jewish woman, and integrated bands aren’t allowed to play together on stage. Not in the South, not anywhere. Inspired by the real-life experiences of musicians from that era, Vynnie Meli’s play takes a fascinating look at some extraordinary women who make their way past fear and hatred to find the common threads that bind them together. Winner of the 2009 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award competition.
A few years ago, I directed the Essential Theatre’s production of Paul Rudnick’s THE MOST FABULOUS STORY EVER TOLD, which took a look at stories and themes from the Bible, seen through a gay perspective (starting in the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Steve). It’s still one of my favorites shows that we’ve ever done, and not just because it was funny as hell (line for line, I think Rudnick may be the funniest playwright working today). What I found most captivating about the script was the scope of its theatrical imagination and the depth and breadth of its exploration of spiritual issues. Expecting to read a campy joke-fest, I found that I had discovered a playwright capable of creating the kind of magic only live theatre can provide.
I felt the same way when I read Rudnick’s VALHALLA, which was just opening in New York when our production of MOST FABULOUS was playing. I didn’t get around to reading it for some time, because I have to admit that a comic historical fantasy about an opera-obsessed European monarch of the 19th Century didn’t sound like something I could, uh, relate to. It turns out that Rudnick’s play isn’t just about Ludwig, the Mad King of Bavaria (he was a real guy – look him up). It’s also about two gay teenagers trying to grow up and find themselves in a small Texas town in the 1930’s and 40’s; it’s about Princess Sophie, “the loneliest humpback in Europe;”it’s about World War Two movies and song-and-dance numbers and fairy-tale castles and, yes, about opera.
But mostly – I think – it’s about being willing to go mad to create something of beauty. Which is something that just about anyone who works in the world of non-profit theatre (and just about any art form) can relate to. I think VALHALLA is an incredibly funny play, but it also makes me cry, and that’s what made we want to direct it. That’s the kind of experience I’m hoping we can give to the people who come to see it.