Looking for something cultural to do this weekend and beyond? Here are Encore Atlanta’s recommendations (in alphabetical order). Pictured: “Sheddin'” at Horizon Theatre with Thomas W. Jones II and Donna Biscoe. 

The Adventures of High John the Conqueror. Before there was Br’er Rabbit, there was High John the Conqueror. This family-friendly evening of stories and music celebrates one of America’s earliest and least-known folk heroes. Written and directed by Rob Cleveland. Featuring Cleveland and Eric J. Little. Through Aug. 12. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. $20; $10 students and children. See schedule for show times. Theatrical Outfit at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St. N.W. Tickets HERE or at 877.725.9949. For discounts, visit poshdealz.com.

Alice in Wonderland. FINAL WEEKEND. Wonderland closes after performances at 11 a.m. Friday-Saturday. This world premiere treatment at Serenbe Playhouse puts Alice in the forest with a band of merry music makers. The hourlong site-specific adventure is good for all ages. Serenbe is in Chattahoochee Hills, west of Palmetto, about 30 minutes from Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. $15; $10 students and children; under 2 free. Details, tickets, directions: www.serenbeplayhouse.com or 770.436.1110. For discounts, visit poshdealz.com.

Are You Going to Answer That? Youth Creates, a training program for teens at 7 Stages, engages them in playwriting, design and performance to create an original work of theater. This year’s production follows the effects a single phone call has on one person and all those he encounters. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday. $10. 7 Stages, 1105 Euclid Ave. N.E. Tickets HERE.

Bat-Hamlet. Part of Essential Theatre‘s 2012 festival of new plays. What if Shakespeare had conceived the melancholy Dane as a costumed crimefighter, wonders playwright Jordan Pulliam. The result: A mashup that combines comic books and the Bard of Avon, a tale  of murder and revenge, poetry & BAM! SOCK! POW! Through Aug. 4. See the Essential Theatre schedule for details. $23. Festival passes available. Performances at Actor’s Express, 887 W. Marietta St., in the King Plow Arts Center.

The Emperor and the Nightingale. FINAL WEEKEND. Ancient China comes to life through song, dance and puppetry in Georgia Shakespeare’s world premiere family musical. 10 a.m. Thursday-Friday; and 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday. $13. Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe University, 4484 Peachtree Road N.E. Details, tickets: www.gashakespeare.org or 404.504.1473.

Evelyn in Purgatory. Part of Essential Theatre‘s 2012 festival of new plays. This world premiere by Atlanta’s Topher Payne is about five public school teachers caught in the limbo of a disciplinary holding area. He calls it “a Breakfast Club for teachers.” Critics call it “smartly crafted,” “a very funny dramatic comedy” (with an ambiguous ending that is “problematic”) and the playwright’s “strongest work to date.” Through Aug. 2. See the Essential Theatre schedule for details. $23. Festival passes available. Performances at Actor’s Express, 887 W. Marietta St., in the King Plow Arts Center.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. CLOSES SUNDAY. True Colors Theatre Company presents a world premiere based on the 1967 Sidney Poitier-Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy movie about a family whose liberal beliefs are tested when their daughter brings home her handsome, wealthy, brilliant and successful fiancé — who happens to be black. Critics have called the performances of  Tom Key, Tory Kittles and Tess Malis Kincaid “luminous”; others are troubled by a script that seems dated. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. $20-$75. Tickets HERE or at 877.725.8849. Rialto Center for the Arts, 80 Forsyth St. N.W.

The Issues Plays. This collection of one-act plays takes on everything from equal rights to the jobless in America. Expect plays from Kenneth Lonergan, Donald Margulies, Geoffrey Nauffts and Theresa Rebeck; and actors such as Doyle Reynolds (Mr. Universe, In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play) and Stacy Melich (The Motherfucker With the Hat), who are directed by Bob Putnam and Grant McGowen. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. For mature audiences. $25. Produced by Pinch ‘n’ Ouch Theatre at the Alliance Theatre (Hertz Stage), 1280 Peachtree St. N.E. Tickets HERE.

Illyria: A Twelfth Night Musical. In repertory with Much Ado About Nothing and The Importance of Being Earnest. This gender-bending love triangle is set to a rock ‘n’ roll, country, gospel and Andrew Lloyd Webber-ish score. Good for ages 6 and up. Picnicking before the show is encouraged. Bring a basket and a bottle of wine or pre-order from Carole Parks Catering. Check the GS website for performance dates and a schedule of pre-show and post-show chats. Through Aug. 5. $15-$45. Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe University, 4484 Peachtree Road N.E. Details, tickets: www.gashakespeare.org or 404.504.1473.  For discounts, visit poshdealz.com. Meet Courtney Patterson, Illyria’s Viola HERE. (She’s also Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing and Gwendolyn in The Importance of Being Earnest.)

The Importance of Being Earnest. In repertory with Much Ado About Nothing and Illyria: A Twelfth Night Musical. Oscar Wilde’s satirical comedy concerns a couple of pals, each with his eye on a different lady, who masquerade as a libertine named Ernest in order to close the deal. Good for ages 8 and up. Picnicking before the show is encouraged. Bring a basket and a bottle of wine or pre-order from Carole Parks Catering. Check the GS website for performance dates and a schedule of pre-show and post-show chats. Through Aug. 3. $15-$45. Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe University, 4484 Peachtree Road N.E. Details, tickets: www.gashakespeare.org or 404.504.1473.  For discounts, visit poshdealz.com.

The Local. Part of Essential Theatre‘s  2012 festival of new plays. A collaborative project about the city of Atlanta created by playwrights, poets, choreographers, photographers, designers, songwriters, rappers, dancers and more. It’s about belonging (and not belonging), how you shape the place you live and how it shapes you. Actor-director Ellen McQueen directs the project she developed, funded in part through a Kickstarter campaign. Through Aug. 3. See the Essential Theatre schedule for details. $23. Festival passes available. Performances at Actor’s Express, 887 W. Marietta St., in the King Plow Arts Center. $18-$23

Much Ado About Nothing. In repertory with Illyria: A Twelfth Night Musical and The Importance of Being Earnest. A tale of infidelity, trickery and a faked death. Remember, all’s fair in love and war. Bring a basket and a bottle of wine or pre-order from Carole Parks Catering. Check the website for performance dates and a schedule of pre-show and post-show chats. Through Aug. 4. $15-$45. Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe University, 4484 Peachtree Road N.E. Details, tickets: www.gashakespeare.org or 404.504.1473.  For discounts, visit poshdealz.com.

The Red Herring. CLOSES SUNDAY. The Collective Project Inc., one of the newer kids in Atlanta theater, stages a detective story described as “comedic noir.” The leading man is named Detective Stainless Steel (Matthew Myers), if that gives you an idea of what you’re in for. The playwright is Atlantan Greg Garrison. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. $15, plus service fees. Recommended for ages 18+. Goat Farm Arts Center (Rodriguez Room), 1200 Foster Street in West Midtown. Photo by Justin Hadley.

Sheddin’. The next chapter in the life of empty-nesters Walt and Ruthie (from 2009’s A Cool Drink a Water). They’re preparing to welcome home son Trane, a rising hip-hop artist. The critics: “familiar and refreshing … but, like water, can sometimes leave you wanting something more”; “an expertly crafted atmosphere of enormous dramatic potential … turning it into real drama proves difficult”;  “extraordinary and singular in its use of language.” Part of Horizon Theatre’s New South Play Festival in partnership with the National Black Arts Festival. Through Aug. 19. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 3 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday; and 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets start at $20 HERE  or at 404.584.7540. Horizon Theatre, 1083 Austin Ave. N.E.

Time Between Us. REGIONAL PREMIERE. Serenbe Playhouse wraps its third summer season with this new musical about best friends who plan to have it all. It’s one of the don’t-miss events of the summer. The piece, by the upcoming team of Tess Barker and Brett Schrier, spans 30 years in the lives of Morgan and Matthew — their friendship, sacrifices and dreams. Justin Anderson directs. The cast: Brian Clowdus and Laura Floyd (left). Through Aug. 18. 8:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. $15-$25. In the Serenbe Stables. Serenbe is in Chattahoochee Hills, west of Palmetto, about 30 minutes from Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Details, tickets, directions: www.serenbeplayhouse.com or 770.436.1110. For discounts, visit poshdealz.com.

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Kathy Janich, Encore Atlanta’s managing editor, has been seeing, covering or working in the performing arts for most of her life. Please email: kathy@atlantametropub.com

About Kathy Janich

Kathy Janich, Encore Atlanta’s editor, is a longtime arts journalist who has been seeing, working in or writing about the performing arts for most of her life. She's a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, Americans for the Arts and the National Arts Marketing Project. Full disclosure: She’s also an artistic associate at Synchronicity Theatre.

View all posts by Kathy Janich