The opening of the 2016 Essential Theatre Festival is more than three months away, but both winning plays have been cast and festival passes are now on sale.

essentiallogoThe competition, now in its 16th year, is the only contest dedicated to the work of Georgia playwrights.

Karen Wurl’s Dispossessed, a romantic comic-fantasy about a Yiddish theater company in the 1920s, premieres July 29. Essential artistic director Peter Hardy will direct a cast featuring Alyssa Caputo, Amelia Fischer, Jake Krakofsky, Tony Larkin, Jacob McKee, Kathleen McManus, Scott Rousseau, Chris Schulz and Christie Vozniak.


As a child, Wurl had a aunt involved in Chicago theater. So she saw plays and readings and got to read scripts. “I was definitely the only 9-year-old at my school who wanted to be a playwright,” she says. (Read more HERE.)

Derek Dixon’s When Things Are Lost, a comic-drama about friendship, loss, understanding and forgiveness, premieres Aug. 5. Director Amber Bradshaw, managing director of Working Title Playwrights, will lead a cast comprising Barrett Doyle, Anthony Goolsby, Jill Perry, Gina Rickicki, Chelsea Steverson, Kerwin Thompson, Alex Towers and Alex Van.


Dixon, originally from Raleigh, N.C., began his career as an actor but found himself drawn to the intricacies of scripts. “I thought, ‘maybe I have a story to tell,’ ” he says, “and I began writing. I just opened Microsoft Word and started typing in the playwriting format and after a while I thought, ‘I like this … and I can totally do this wearing sweatpants.’ ” (Read more HERE.)

This summer’s festival will again include Bare Essentials staged readings, which have not yet been finalized, and will be based at the West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. Since 1999, Essential Theatre has presented 27 new works by 23 Georgia writers.

Festival passes ($35-$125) come in two-show, four-show and eight-show packages HERE. Single tickets will go on sale later.

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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