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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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Culture notes: Suzis to honor Theatre in Square, ‘Mountaintop’ playwright speaks, ‘Blue Man’ returning

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

THEATER
Posthumous award for Theatre in the Square
The 2011-12 Suzi Bass Awards, Atlanta’s version of the Tonys, will honor Marietta’s now-defunct Theatre in Square during the 7:30 p.m. Nov. 5 ceremony at the DeKalb County’s Porter Sanford Performing Arts Center.

The troupe, which closed its doors in March after 30 years, will receive the Spirit of Suzi Award, recognizing a person or organization that demonstrates a long-term contribution to Atlanta theater and that embodies the spirit of the late actress for whom the awards organization is named.

Founded in 1982 by Palmer Wells and the late Michael Horne, Theatre in the Square became the largest arts non-profit in Cobb County, employing a dozen staff members and annually hiring more than 140 theater artists who helped reach more than 50,000 yearly.

In a decision that shocked many in the Atlanta theater community during the pits of the recession, its board of directors decided to close the institution, saying it was was unable to retire debt and maintain sufficient cash flow to finish the 30th anniversary season.

The Suzi Bass Awards also announced seven nominees for the Gene-Gabriel Moore Playwriting Award: Rachael Teagle’s “Alice in Wonderland” adaptation (produced by Serenbe Playhouse); Jordan Pulliam’s “Bat-Hamlet” (Essential Theatre); “The Local” (conceived and directed by Ellen McQueen with Essential Theatre actors, dancers and writers); Calvin Alexander Ramsey’s “The Green Book” (Theatrical Outfit); Janece Shaffer’s “Broke” (Alliance Theatre); Thomas W. Jones II’s “Sheddin’” (Horizon Theatre); and “By Wheel and By Wing.”

Sandy Springs’ Act3 Productions developed and produced the latter title, a musical based on a Jewish family’s escape from Poland at the start of World War II, written by a group of metro students (facilitated by Atlanta playwright Corey-Jan Albert): Cameron Albert-Deitch, Haley Chung, Dara Epstein, Leah Quattrochi, Parrish Turner, Sam Barge, Leslie Doctor, Justin Nash Fisher, Greg Windle and Maital Gottfried.

Atlanta playwright-novelist Pearl Cleage, whose world premiere “What I Learned in Paris” opened the current Alliance Theatre season, will present the playwriting award during the eighth annual Suzis.

Tickets for the “creative black tie” ceremony are $40 in advance, $50 door. To purchase: www.suziawards.org.

‘Mountaintop’ playwright to give Emory talk

Olivier Award-winning playwright Katori Hall, whose “The Mountaintop” will be staged by Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company starting Nov. 13 at Southwest Arts Center, will give a free public reading Nov. 14 at Emory University. The Memphis resident will deliver the 2012 Phillis Wheatley Reading as part of Emory’s Creative Writing Readingcq Series at 6:30 p.m. in the Woodruff Library’s Jones Room.

Hall is a playwright-performer from Memphis whose “Hurt Village” won the 2011 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.A Kenny Leon-directed staging of “The Mountaintop,” a drama about the imagined last night of Martin Luther King Jr., made its Broadway premiere last year.cq, 2011

Information about the Hall talk: arts.emory.edu. Info on the True Colors staging, directed by Jasmine Guy and starring Danny Johnson and Demetria McKinney: truecolorstheatre.org/mountaintop. Tickets: 1-877-725-8849, www.ticketalternative.com.

Blue Man’s new visual pow
Theater of the Stars is billing Blue Man Group’s return to the Fox Theatre on Jan. 15-20 as very different from the performance ensemble’s shows here during its last visit. In constrast to the arena-styled 2011 spectacles, this one, scaled to Broadway-type houses, is a full theatrical production, with sound, set and video design centering around a proscenium-sized LED curtain and high-resolution screen. Tickets, $25-$65, are now on sale: 855-285-8499, www.foxatltix.com.

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