Tag Archives: theatre

“Connecting with Deaf Audiences” Final Report

In 2013 for the first time, sign language interpretation was offered as part of the Essential Theatre Festival. This was a pretty big undertaking for us – there’s a lot of work and a lot of money that goes into making this happen smoothly and well – and we were very excited to be bringing this new aspect into our festival.
To help fund the project, we participated in our first ever power2give crowdfunding project. If you’re not familiar with power2give, it’s actually pretty awesome, and you can learn more about it here. We’d started out hoping to raise money, but through our power2give project, we gained so much more. The outpouring of community support and enthusiasm was touching, encouraging and absolutely inspiring to all of us. People we’d known for years contacted us thanking us for the work we do every year, for our years of support of Georgia artists, and for our commitment to sharing quality theatre with anyone and everyone we meet. People we’d never realized had an interest reached out to say thank you for bringing new theatre to Deaf audiences, and thank you for engaging us in conversation. And the support we received from members of Atlanta’s own Deaf community was heartening and inspiring as well. The video you see if you go to our project page would never have been possible without two of our most committed Deaf collaborators, Amy Cohen Efron and AJ Wooddall. And the geographic extent of the response was impressive too: Terp Theatre in Detroit, MI, contacted us and said,  

“You are embarking on a wonderful project, which will greatly enhance your local theatre community’s ability to better reflect the diversity of our world…Your community-centered approach is to be lauded…Our heartfelt congratulations to you, from your friends in ‘The D’.”

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Fri. Jul 1: “A Sleeping Country” Talkback with Sleep Expert Dr. Michael Rinow

Join in the brief discussion on the evaluation and treatment of sleep disorders with Dr. Michael Rinow, director of the Northside Hospital Sleep Center.

Dr. Rinow is a native of Upstate New York, Dr. Rinow received his Medical Degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He completed his Medical Residency and Pulmonary Fellowship at SUNY at Buffalo. After working as an Assistant Professor of Medicine at SUNYAB for 10 years, he was the Medical Director for the Critical Care Units and Respiratory therapy departments at a community hospital in Western NY. He moved to Atlanta in 1997 and worked as a Pulmonologist/Critical Care physician for Kaiser Permanente. He has been involved in the care of sleep medicine patients for over 30 years. He is boarded in Pulmonary Diseases, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine.

What do you do when you simply can’t sleep?

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.

Support Essential Theatre – Buy Your Essential Flex Pass Now


If you are anything like me, you wait until the last minute to decide when to see a theatre production and expect to find a discount ticket as well. We’ve figured out a way to offer just that. Essential Theatre’s new Flex Pass gives you flexibility and discounted ticket prices while helping us raise funds before the summer festival opens. What’s more, the earlier you purchase, the larger the ticket package, the greater your savings will be. Each week as the festival opening approaches, these packages will cost just a tiny bit more. Just a small twist of the arm so that you might please consider buying your tickets now. So, how does this work, keep on reading.

When you purchase a three, six or ten ticket Flex Pass you can to use those tickets however you wish. You can even have a big party or bring a small group of friends to any performance of any of the three festival plays. To redeem your FlexPass got individual tickets, you simply visit OvationTix online and you may choose one or more tickets to any performance for any of the three shows until you use up your Flex Pass tickets. And, you will not need to select all your tickets at a single visit. You just use them when you need them. For example, if you buy a ten seat Flex Pass, you can see one performance, and select to use your remaining tickets come back with eight friends on another night. Or, whenever you want simply go online and choose up to your remaining number of tickets for whichever show you want to see. There are no blackout dates or restrictions. The earlier you purchase, the greater your savings, and you can even wait until a few hours before a performance to get your tickets online.

Simply sign in at OvationTix to redeem your Flex Pass. Flex Pass tickets can only purchased online and can not be redeemed at the box office. For more information, please contact mperloe@essentialtheatre.com

Buy your Flex Pass early, you’ll help Essential Theatre and save more.

2010 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award Winner

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.

People are talking about “Jim Crow….”

WMLB Voice of the Arts’ Larry Larson interviews playwright Vynnie Meli & director Betty Hart

And, In Print

“Directed by Betty Hart, Jim Crow & The Rhythm Darlings truly captures the love of jazz … the dialogue is quick paced and smart, the issues are diverse, and the acting is powerful. Not every day do you come across an intelligent play that explores gender roles, racism, and religion. Jim Crow & The Rhythm Darlings is a harmonious blend of talent, music, and discussion. Definitely a must see.” Kelechi Ubozoh, Atlanta Theatre Examiner

“Playwright Vynnie Meli’s Jim Crow and the Rhythm Darlings draws from a seemingly bottomless wellspring of drama. Director Betty Hart builds to some undeniably gripping confrontations … Essential Theatre offers an affecting homage to some of the unsung women of jazz.” Curt Holman, Creative Loafing

Jim Crow & the Rhythm Darlings by Vynnie Meli, 2009

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.

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