essential-theater-logoAtlanta’s Essential Theatre has named Karla Jennings and Theroun D’arcy Patterson winners of its 2014 playwriting competition, an award that usually goes to a single playwright. Both Atlanta writers win a $600 prize and will have their world premiere plays produced in the Essential Play Festival this summer.

The award has gone to two winners only once before in the theater’s 27-year history. Valetta Anderson’s Leaving Limbo and Larry Larson and Eddie Levi Lee’s Charm School shared the prize in 2006.


Jennings’ play Ravens and Seagulls is about four sisters going through the process of losing one of them to illness. “It’s often painful,” says Peter Hardy, Essential’s founding artistic director. “But also has a lot of humor and some hope at the end.”

Patterson’s That Uganda Play, was written in reaction to Ugandan Parliament member David Bahati’s “Kill the Gays” bill of 2010.


“With the virulent anti-homosexual sentiments and violence in Africa, and recently with the legislation signed into law in Russia, this play is timely and sheds light on a very American involvement with such a controversial figure like Bahati,” Patterson has said. “My hope is that [this play] provokes debate and conversations late into the night long after it’s over.”

Both plays were workshopped by Working Title Playwrights, and That Uganda Play was featured in the Bare Essentials Reading Series during the 2013 Essential Theatre Festival. Both playwrights have previously had work produced by Essential, Images in Smoke by Jennings in 2000 and A Thousand Circlets by Patterson in 2011.

The list of Essential prize-winning and featured playwrights includes such national names as Lauren Gunderson (Decatur- born, San Francisco-based), Amy and David Sedaris, Adam Szymkowicz and Paula Vogel, and metro Atlantans Ellen McQueen, Vynnie Meli, Matthew Myers, Topher Payne and Karen Wurl. The event has been honoring only world premieres by Georgia artists since 2011.

Dates and venues for the 2014 festival will be announced soon. For details on the festival, the contest or Essential Theatre, go HERE.


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.

View all posts by Kathy Janich