Atlanta Life and Culture

The AJC Features Team spotlights arts previews, reviews, profiles, news features and breaking news on Atlanta's cultural and life scene.

News from Essential Theatre, Capitol City Opera, Burnaway, more


Internet dating drama wins prize

“Lillian Likes It,” a play by Conyers resident Joshua Mikel, has been selected as winner of the 2015 Essential Theatre Playwriting Contest, the only competition exclusively dedicated to the work of Georgia playwrights, now in its 16th year. It will receive a full production during the Essential Theatre Play Festival, and Mikel gets a $600 cash prize.

“We liked ‘Lillian Likes It’ because it’s a funny, theatrical look at the world of Internet dating,” Essential artistic director Peter Hardy said, “but also because it goes deeper, taking off in unexpected directions and dealing with such timeless issues as the mystery of how we can ever get to truly know another person.”

Said Mikel: “Getting a piece through Essential has become sort of a rite of passage for the Georgia playwright. … It’s a great opportunity, but I know there’s a lot of work to be done between now and then. I’m hyper excited to see this performed with seasoned actors.”

Joining “Lillian” in the fest, July 24 through Aug. 23 at West End Performing Arts Center, will be Natalia Naman’s “The Old Ship of Zion,” receiving its premiere professional staging, about members of a small, struggling African-American church in Columbus; and the Bare Essentials Reading Series, featuring readings of new works by Georgia playwrights. The arts center is at 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd., Atlanta. Details:

The deadline for the 2016 Essential Theatre Playwriting Award competition is April 23. More info or to submit a play:


News from Capitol City Opera, Burnaway, more

  • Capitol City Opera Company has announced its main stage productions for 2015: Mozart’s “Abduction from the Seraglio,” March 27-29 at Oglethorpe University’s Conant Performing Arts Center; and Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado” (fall performance dates to be announced). The annual July On the Light Side fundraiser will be “The Songs of George and Ira Gershwin” (details to be announced). For more on Capitol City, including Dinner and a Diva programs at restaurants on the third Tuesday and Thursday each month:
  •, the Atlanta-based visual arts site, has been awarded a $50,000 grant from New York’s Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Spread over two years, the grant was given in support of programs including Burnaway’s Critics-in-Residence Program, writing workshops for artists and high school art writing intensives.

  • Deadra Moore, long-time executive director of the Suzi Bass Awards, Atlanta’s version of the Tonys, has stepped down to resume her acting career. Heidi Blackwell, volunteer coordinator for panel judges and website manager, has been named interim executive director of the 10-year-old organization while its board searches for a candidate experienced in non-profit administration, development and volunteer management. Info on the position:
  • Carlos Izcaray has been appointed music director of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.

    The Alabama Symphony Orchestra has selected Venezuelan-born conductor Carlos Izcaray as music director. The Berlin-based maestro, who signed a four-year contract calling for up to 20 weeks per season, will move to Birmingham to assume his new role. Izcaray (pronounced eez-ca-RYE), who begins his tenure in September, next conducts the orchestra as music director designate on Feb. 13-14.

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The AJC Features Team spotlights arts previews, reviews, profiles, news features and breaking news on Atlanta's cultural and life scene.