When Atlanta’s professional theater artists honor their own at Monday night’s Suzi Bass awards, 11 playwrights will be recognized for new work, with one earning the coveted Gene-Gabriel Moore Playwriting Award. Many of the nominees have had work produced around the country.
The award is named for one of the primary founders of the Suzis, the inspirational, irascible Moore (1936-2008), a onetime actor, director and journalist, and a stalwart champion of metro theaters.
The Suzis are named for the late Suzi Bass, a force of nature who appeared on stages all over town from the late 1970s until her death in 2002. For a look at nominees in the rest of categories, see this ENCORE FEATURE.
The plays and playwrights under consideration:
JONIDA BEQO. For Harabel: a sparrow over a minefield, an autobiographical piece of poetry, movement and conversation that tracks Beqo’s journey from her native Albania to the American South. Produced by Theatrical Outfit. Beqo returned to Albania full time a few months ago.
SUEHYLA EL-ATTAR. For Third Country, a look at the experiences of newcomers to America, based on the lives of immigrants living in Clarkston, Ga. Produced by Horizon Theatre.
DOUG GRAHAM. For Being Alive, a dark comedy about a father and three teenagers learning about acceptance. Produced by the Fern Theatre, where Graham is co-artistic director.
MICHAEL HAVERTY. For The Navigator, an adaptation of Eoin McNamee’s young-adult fantasy that used a multi-site setting at the Goat Farm Arts Center and called on audience members to participate in the story. Produced by 7 Stages, where Haverty is associate artistic director.
HAVERTY & JANE BARNETTE. For Red Badge of Courage, an adaptation of Stephen Crane’s classic Civil War novel with actors, animation, tabletop puppetry and projections. A co-production of 7 Stages and Kennesaw State University, where Barnette taught.
KARLA JENNINGS. For Ravens & Seagulls, a drama that mixes myth, emotion and dark comedy to explore a dying woman’s final days and the reactions of her sisters. Produced at the 2014 Essential Theatre Play Festival.
GRANT McGOWAN. For Wall Street Wedding, a satire about love among brokers after the 2008 stock market collapse. Produced by Pinch ‘n’ Ouch Theatre, which McGowan founded and where he’s artistic director.
THEROUN D’ARCY PATTERSON. For That Uganda Play, a rigorous contemplation of the political and personal causes — and fallout — of Uganda’s anti-gay legislation. Produced at the 2014 Essential Theatre Play Festival.
TOPHER PAYNE. For The Only Light in Reno, a look at the real-life blackout in Reno, Nev., during the filming of the feature film The Misfits, and peopled by Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor and others. Produced at Georgia Ensemble Theatre. Payne won the 2013 Gene-Gabriel Moore award for Angry Fags (7 Stages).
JANECE SHAFFER. For The Geller Girls, a smart romantic comedy about two sisters as Atlanta prepares to host the 1895 Cotton Stages and International Exposition. Shaffer is a three-time Gene-Gabriel Moore winner for Managing Maxine (2009, Alliance Theatre), Brownie Points (2010, Theatrical Outfit) and Broke (2012, Alliance Theatre).
KATIE GRANT SHALIN. For Swimming With Jellyfish, which goes behind the perfect façade of a suburban family, where infidelity, impending empty-nest syndrome and millennial lassitude combine with sharp dialogue to test relationships. Produced by the 2013 Essential Theatre Play Festival. Shalin, an actor and a teacher at the Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts, died in September of brain cancer. She was 42, and Jellyfish was her first play.
In addition to the playwriting award, wig and hair designer Monty Schuth will receive the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award. Schuth began designing and creating theatrical wigs in 1986 when Theatre in the Square persuaded him to create 26 wigs in late 18th-century style for Amadeus. In his 20-plus year career, Schuth estimates he has provided hair goods and barbering for more than 570 stage shows, summer-stock tours and ballets, worked as a local hire on an estimated 32 Broadway tours, and styled and supervised 50 productions for The Atlanta Opera.
The 2014 Suzi Bass Awards ceremony begins at 7 p.m. Monday at the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts Center, 3181 Rainbow Drive, Decatur.
Tickets are $50 in advance, $60 at the door. Dress is creative black tie. Tickets include free parking and a catered after-party. Details, tickets HERE.