By Manning Harris

The Essential Theatre Play Festival specializes in “giving Georgia playwrights a voice on Georgia stages,” and that is what they’ve been doing since 1999. Since that year they have produced 27 new works by 23 Georgia playwrights.

The festival is back this summer, running from July 29 through Aug. 28 at the West End Performing Arts Center. There will be two world premieres running in repertory: co-winners of this year’s Essential Theatre Playwriting Award, the only prize dedicated to the work of Georgia playwrights.

The first play is Karen Wurl’s “Dispossessed,” described as “a romantic comic-fantasy with a feminist twist, set in the Lower East Side of New York City in 1928.”

Karen Wurl

A young actress playing the leading role in a Yiddish theatre company is being pressured by her parents to marry the handsome leading man. So she conjures up the character she’s been rehearsing – a demon possessed bride; and the actress and her character try to find what her heart truly desires.

“Dispossessed” is directed by Essential Theatre’s Founding Artistic Director, Peter Hardy; the cast includes Atlanta actors Amelia Fischer, Kathleen McManus, Scott Rousseau, Jake Krakovsky, Tony Larkin, Alyssa Caputo, Chris Schulz and Christie Vozniak.

The second play is Derek Dixon’s “When Things Are Lost,” a “funny and surreal dream play about a young man searching for answers to his best friend’s disappearance.” Themes here are friendship, loss, understanding, and forgiveness. There’s also a giant pink bunny to keep us on our toes.

Derek Dixon

“When Things Are Lost” is directed by Amber Bradshaw and features actors Barrett Doyle, Gina Rickicki, Alex Van, Jill Perry, Anthony Goolsby, Chelsea Steverson, Alex Towers, and Kerwin Thompson.

In addition, there will be three staged readings of Georgia plays, co-produced by Bare Essentials and Working Title Playwrights. The plays are “Never Been to Vienna” by Gerry I. Bartholmai, “Pete ‘n Wendy” by Erin Considine” and “The Memory Box” by Laura King. The reading dates are Aug. 8, 15 and 24.

For more information, visit essentialtheatre.com.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.