2009 Essential Theatre Festival


July 25th Georgia Poetry Society Reading 7pm 
Listen to what our audience says!
ICE GLEN by Joan Ackermann
Beautifully written, masterfully delicate direction by Ellen McQueen, precise, delightful and
surprising performances all round.  Go see it.” 
Joanna Daniel
“ICE GLEN is both one of the best scripts and best overall productions I’ve seen
in the nine years I’ve been in Atlanta, and Ellen’s direction is flawlessly nuanced. A true “must-see.”” Evan Guilford-Blake
“It’s one of the best shows in Atlanta this year!” Leonard Pallats


Watch Video Trailers & Interviews



Essential Festival Lineup


FOOD FOR FISH by Adam Szymkowicz, Regional Premiere,
Directed by Peter Hardy
Featuring: Kelly Criss, Kate Graham, Eve Krueger, Brent Nicholas Rose, Charles Swint and Sarah Falkenburg Wallace.
Bobbie is a lonely young man living in New York, trying to write about three sisters who long to escape the city and return to their childhood home of New Jersey or is he really just an imaginary character in the mind of Sylvia, the youngest sister? Middle sister Alice is hopelessly in love with the husband of her older sister, and so she goes out on dates with a different man every night, working in her lab by day to isolate the human gene that makes us fall in love so she can control it! Oldest sister Barbara (played by a man) and her husband (played by a woman) cant figure out how men and women are supposed to relate to each other. This is the kind of play we love to do at the Essential funny and beautiful and just about impossible to describe. The New York Times did it best, calling it fabulously weird and weirdly fabulous.

ICE GLEN by Joan Ackermann. Regional Premiere.
Directed by Ellen McQueen
Featuring: Jo Howarth, Dina Shadwell, Jayson Smith, Spencer G. Stephens, Jim Starbh and Ann Wilson.
Sarah Harding lives in an isolated country cottage, surrounded by a warm circle of quietly eccentric friends. She may be Americas greatest poet, but no ones ever seen her work which is just the way she wants it. But now an editor has arrived from Boston, wanting to publish her poems and bring her the fame and fortune she has never sought. With unforgettable characters, this wonderfully funny romantic drama — about the frozen places in our hearts coming back to life again — is like the best Emma Thompson movie you never saw.

“Beautifully written”. Talkin Broadway. “A lovely play”. CurtainUp

Congratulations to Vynnie for the upcoming production of her musical PLAGUED, A LOVE STORY which is being produced as part of this years NY Musical Theatre Festival .





July 10 – August 2, 2009A Play in Seven Scenes by Athol Fugard
Directed by Susan V. Booth
A Co-Production with Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company
Acting powerhouses Tom Key and Kenny Leon play half-brothers, one white, the other black, in 1960s Apartheid-era South Africa in this searing masterpiece about the corrosive effects of institutionalized racism and the inextricable familial ties that bind.





Late Night at the Essential 
Essential Theatre and Actor’s Express have teamed up to give you the best full night of entertainment. Come see the Essential Theatre performance and stay for Actor’s Express late night entertainment, featuring Francine Reed, Charlie Brown, Gwen Hughes, Bad Boy Hypnotist and Heston Francis. Your Essential Theatre program will provide you a drink coupon and $5 off the price of the Actor’s Express After Hours ticket. Check out the After Hours website for more information.


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
Its 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 theyve got a last-minute replacement in the group, a white Jewish woman, and integrated bands arent allowed to play together on stage. Not in the South, not anywhere.

Inspired by the real-life experiences of musicians from that era, Vynnie Melis 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, the only prize exclusively dedicated to the work of Georgia playwrights. The Essential Theatre is proud to have developed this play (along with Working Title Playwrights and Jewish Theatre of the South) and to be bringing it to the stage for the first time.

“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
“A literary counterpart to a hot jam session, with the key changing with a flick of a make-up sponge or a policeman’s baton. It’s a play about “passing” that you would be foolish to pass on by.”
Brad Rudy


FOOD FOR FISH by Adam Szymkowicz
MEET PLAYWRIGHT ADAM SZYMKOWICZ, August 1, 2009 for a post-performance talkback.
“One smart play …dark, droll dialogue … it’s a wild, strange trip, full of black humor, and something to really challenge the mind.”
James Paulk, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“This play by the brilliant young playwright, Adam Szymkowicz, is one strange work of art … it is compelling, humorous, and I would give it a 9 on the proverbial scale.”
Bob Heller, Publishers’ Feature Service