Essential Theatre Festival 2012
Opening This Friday!
“For 25 years now, under the leadership of producing artistic director Peter Hardy, Essential Theatre has specialized in giving Atlanta audiences an opportunity to experience offbeat”, freshly-minted or obscure plays by Georgia playwrights that they might otherwise never see.
Topher Payne’s EVELYN IN PURGATORY depicts five public school teachers who are caught in the limbo of the disciplinary “Rubber Room”, waiting for their cases to be heard and their fates decided. Poignant and funny drama, it’s like The Breakfast Club for teachers, as they share secrets with each other and begin to look into their own hearts. Winner of the 2012 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit EVELYN ONLINE.
“EVELYN is a World Premiere work by Atlanta-based playwright Topher Payne, and it’s a smartly-crafted work … a remarkably well-constructed and very funny dramatic comedy in the vein of STEEL MAGNOLIAS or SORDID LIVES.” Andrew Alexander, ArtsATL
“EVELYN IN PURGATORY is his strongest work to date … an uncommonly smart and restrained commentary on the public education system. Better yet is the ambiguity Payne gives his characters, none of whom is quite what they seem.” Bert Osborne, AJC
“Topher has a knack for weaving incredible humor into utter confusion and/or pathos, and he does so quite brilliantly in this opus … one may even miss a few lines because you will be laughing your head off so much.”
Bob Heller, Publishers Feature Service
“The winner of the 2012 Essential Theatre Playwriting Competition, the comedy evokes much laughter, but is primarily a character study on the traits that define us all. Witty, engaging and thought-provoking … Payne’s greatest feat is creating a group of characters with such depth. Each character is so distinct and at the same time universal that each will stay with you upon leaving the theater. With an engrossing and tightly-woven play by Payne and remarkable talent on stage, Essential Theatre’s production of EVELYN IN PURGATORY can’t be missed.” Wesley, Atlanta Theater Fans
Topher Nixon Payne wrote a brilliantly funny and poignant script with such great characters. Perfect casting…Just a wonderful night at the theater. Thank you! Stacey Melich, actor
THE LOCAL, a collaborative theatre project directed by Ellen McQueen, premiers July 12th. This ambitious production premiers with “a collection of some two dozen variations on a theme — including traditional scenes and monologues, but also incorporating poetry, music and dance to tell a myriad of stories by and about people who call Atlanta home.” For more information, visit THE LOCAL ONLINE. Listen to an Interview with Ellen McQueen on WABE.
“This was a way of doing something special in honor of the company’s 25th anniversary,” explains McQueen. “The central themes are about belonging and renewal, about finding or remaking oneself in a city whose symbol is a phoenix reborn from its own ashes, and we’ve tried to represent voices from all sorts of different communities and walks of life.”
Even native Atlantans may learn something new about their hometown. “The show gives audiences a chance to hear from the inside about things that might be outside their own experiences, from life in the projects to stories about undocumented workers who seem to be invisible to a lot of people,” she says.
Our third play, BAT HAMLET opens July 19, a smart and imaginative parody byplaywright Jordan Pulliam. Pulliam takes the famous Shakespearean plot and gives it a campy twist by way of the old TV/comic book series.
“Believe it or not, it isn’t quite as far-fetched as it might sound,” notes artistic direct, Peter Hardy, who is staging the show. “Whether you’re a fan of ‘Hamlet’ or a fan of ‘Batman,’ there are plenty of in-jokes running throughout the play on both sides.” Visit BAT-HAMLET ONLINE
Check the website for details on how you can earn a walk-on role in BAT-HAMLET.
ESSENTIAL IN THE PRESS
Access Atlanta: Essential Play Festival to feature three local works
ArtsATL: The ArtsATL Q&A: Atlanta playwright Topher Payne and his career year
AJC: Evelyn in Purgatory