The cover of The Atlanta Issue of The Dramatist
Emory University and Actor’s Express
Exterior photo of Actor's Express

In the Summer of 2015, Emory University’s then-playwright-in-residence, Edith Freni, sent me an email out of the blue. In the Theatre Studies Department’s riff on Paula Vogel’s “Bake-Off,” I and three other Atlanta playwrights were paid a stipend and given 48 hours (the project was called 4:48) to write a full-length script using an anthropological book about the origins of human sexuality and monogamy as a jumping-off point, as well as a few group-chosen elements (a scene in the dark, four characters, etc.). On the third day, we rehearsed with our actors (no rewrites allowed!), and on the fourth those plays were read in front of an audience. It was a freeing, terrifying, out-of-body experience, the timeline leaving no room for over-thinking. And the group of artists and faculty was bold, game, and ready to catch us—or anything else that might fall off.

That play was called The Flower Room, a screwball sex comedy viewed through a female lens. After the 4:48, as well as another Emory event several months later—“Brave New Works,” which, as an ongoing biannual program, involves several days of rehearsal and a more polished on-its-feet reading for the public—I was contacted by Freddie Ashley, the Artistic Director of Actor’s Express, about including the play in the theatre’s Threshold Festival of New Plays. Freddie had done some retooling of the festival and wanted it to feature all Atlanta playwrights.

Actor’s Express is renowned for its focus on new work, work that pushes boundaries and buttons, work that is often LGBTQ-focused and sex-positive. This theatre was the best bet for The Flower Room, with its full nudity, same-sex intimacy, and focus on a 40-something woman opening up and losing her virginity. Onstage.

That festival was a swift process with only a few hours of rehearsal, but the resulting reading in front of a galvanized audience was enough to make Freddie confident that he wanted to give the play a slot in the following season.

Actor’s Express was just as bold and safe as Emory had been. The artistic team was given space and freedom, but we were also supported by AE’s creative staff with timely feedback and safety nets.

My experience with these two artistic institutions demonstrates the lively, varied, curious, smart nature of the new play development opportunities in Atlanta’s theatre community. It is only one story of many; only two organizations of many; I am only one writer of many. 

I am challenged by this community. And I am also very, very proud of it.

Daryl Lisa Fazio
Daryl Lisa Fazio

is a writer, graphic designer, and cat and dog mom based in Atlanta, GA. Her plays and musicals have been produced off-Broadway as well as at professional regional theatres in the southeast and Florida coast. Commissions: Horizon Theatre, Emory University. Recognition and development: NAMT Festival, Alliance Theatre, O’Neill Playwrights Conference (Finalist, Semi-Finalist), New York Musical Theatre Festival (Next Link Selection), BAPF (Finalist), Synchronicity’s SHEwrites Festival. Daryl studied Theatre at Northwestern University.