A SCENE FROM “A Thousand Circlets,” the 2011 award winner by Theroun D’Arcy Patterson.

The Essential Theatre Play Festival, a summertime staple in Atlanta, will again introduce audiences to new plays by Georgia writers. The company, led by producing artistic director Peter Hardy, is in its 26th season. This summer’s festival, running July 12-Aug. 11, is its 15th. All three plays are world premieres and will run in repertory at Actor’s Express.


Hardy will direct Stray Dogs by Matthew Myers, the winner of this year’s Essential Playwriting Award. The comedy-romance-crime story introduces us to  Jackson, a petty criminal who’s not as smart as he thinks, and Violet, a teenage call girl who’s not nearly everything she pretends to be. When they’re caught in the middle of a war between corrupt cops and (barely) organized crime, they learn it’s not the best time to fall in love. Myers channeled his inner Quentin Tarantino to write this funny, violent and sweet tale. It opens July 17. Also in the lineup:


Swimming With Jellyfish by Katie Grant Shalin. Father and son. Mother and daughter. Husband and wife. Brother and sister. Sometimes the most common relationships are the hardest to figure out. Lilly and Jim’s kids are almost grown and ready to leave home, so things should just be starting to settle down for them … instead everything begins to come apart. Bill Murphy directs. It opens July 24.


Mysterious Connections by Peter Hardy. Two lonely women, haunted by their pasts, are drawn to one another from the first time they meet, and soon find themselves able to enter one another’s dreams. A funny fantasy-drama about love and terror, forgiveness and second chances. This piece has been developed, in part, at the prestigious Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference. Ellen McQueen (last summer’s The Local) directs. It opens July 11. (SCHEDULE)

In past seasons, the Essential festival has introduced new work by such Georgia playwrights as Gabriel Jason Dean (now in New York); Lauren Gunderson (now in San Francisco and one of the hottest young playwrights in the country); Larry Larson and Eddie Levi Lee (the recent and long-running The Waffle Palace: Smothered, Covered & Scattered 24/7/365 at Horizon Theatre); Vynnie Meli; Theroun D’Arcy Patterson; and Topher Payne (the just-closed Angry Fags at 7 Stages).


About Kathy Janich

Kathy Janich 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.

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