Atlanta may be steeped in Southern history, but its bustling arts scene refuses to be mired in the past. That’s especially true of its theater community, which enjoys a reputation as an incubator of national productions and a nurturer of top-flight talents like acclaimed Broadway director Kenny Leon.
The self-proclaimed capital of the Southeast boasts a wealth of theater companies staging thought-provoking works, ranging from thought-provoking dramas to crackling musicals and visually stunning reinterpretations of familiar classics. The Alliance Theatre is perhaps the most well-known outside of town, having taken home a Regional Tony Award in 2007, but at home it shares the spotlight with a deep bench of creative troupes. Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company, rooted in African-American classics, displays a commitment to diversity from its casting to its cultivation of new voices. Horizon Theatre, located in the funky and eclectic Little Five Points neighborhood, aims to stimulate audiences with award-winning contemporary playwrights and fresh new writers. Theatrical Outfit places a strong emphasis on voices, stories and themes particular the American South, while Actor’s Express strives to challenge audiences with bold, passionate performances.
Atlanta theater constantly nods to the past while looking to the future. Need proof? Just contrast the depth of its burgeoning improv comedy scene, featuring the likes of Whole World Theatre, Dad’s Garage, the Basement Theatre and the Village Theatre, and not one but two companies dedicated to the Bard of Avon. Georgia Shakespeare stages dazzling interpretations of works by Shakespeare and other enduring authors, while the Atlanta Shakespeare Company specializes in stagings that reflect the origins of the play, including live period music and era-appropriate costumes, in a pub-like atmosphere at the New American Shakespeare Tavern. (Kevin Moreau)