Threshold Festival showcases new work by Atlanta playwrights

Ariel Castro abducted three women and held them captive in the basement of his Cleveland home for 10 years. Jodie Foster’s stalker tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan to prove his love for her. Obsession is a powerful thing and a rich subject for a play, according to playwright Lee Nowell, whose new play, “Obsession,” will receive a reading at 2 p.m. Dec. 6 as a part of the Actor’s Express Threshold Festival, taking place throughout the weekend.

The Hitchcockian thriller is about a theater director who becomes violently obsessed with an actress he’s cast as the leading lady in his play.

Nowell was inspired not only by her interest in the psychology behind obsession, but also by her life.

“There are things that I experienced as an actress that I never talked about,” Nowell said. “The lines are a little blurry due to the intimate nature of the work we’re doing in rehearsals. But when I first did a reading of the play in my living room with a few local actresses, all of them said that they had experienced some form of harassment or stalking.”

Funded by a grant from the National New Play Network, the Threshold Festival features readings of new plays by Atlanta-based playwrights. Other scheduled readings are “Trick Church” by Sherry Shepard-Massat, an examination of racism within a predominantly black community in the 1970s, at 2 p.m. Dec. 5, and “I Love My Brother” by Johnny Drago, a pair of one-acts that examine how homosexuals relate to their straight siblings, at 8 p.m. Dec. 5.

“These are playwrights who have decided to stay and work here, and hopefully the success of the festival will attract national attention and this will become a part of the yearly programming,” said Clifton Guterman, the National New Play Network producer in residence.

There will be a Playwrights Panel Discussion at 4 p.m. Dec. 5 featuring all three writers. Admission is free with a ticket to any Threshold reading.

Actor’s Express. $10 per reading, $20 for all three. King Plow Arts Center at 887 W. Marietta St., Atlanta.


Sarah Emerson fanaticizes the familiar at MOCA GA

Japan’s Aokigahara Forest and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco are two of the most popular places in the world to commit suicide – one involves getting lost in a maze of trees so dense the sun cannot direct a compass, and the other involves jumping from 746 feet into a chilly canal.

These two landmarks, plus lush, colorful landscapes and Disney’s “Snow White” inspired Sarah Emerson’s dark but hopeful paintings in “The Unbearable Flatness of Being” at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. Her paintings present viewers with highly stylized versions of nature that combine geometric patterns and current events to examine landscapes.

“A lot of the work is about how difficult is to reconcile chaos and hope,” said Emerson, a Working Artist in Residence at the museum.

Emerson created the show’s 18 large pieces over the course of 18 months, and together they form a single, large panoramic landscape. Peeking out of dark smoke clouds are eyes looking back at the viewer.

“The forest is a very important part of my work,” said Emerson, who also teaches at Agnes Scott College and Georgia State University. “There is an evolution in the pieces, and as you move around the space, it’s like getting lost in the forest, but you get somewhere in the end.”

“The Unbearable Flatness of Being” opens Dec. 12 with a 7 p.m. reception and is on view through Feb. 6, 2016. The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. $8. 75 Bennett St., Atlanta.


BeepBeep retrospective celebrates popular Atlanta artists

James McConnell and Tim Basehore turned showing their friends’ art work in their living room into BeepBeep Gallery, a place where unknown and emerging artists could show their work to interested buyers. Now, after 10 years in the commercial art business, they are closing BeepBeep, but not without a celebration. The gallery’s final exhibit, “It’s Not Us, It’s You,” is a retrospective on display Dec. 5-19. Some of the featured artists include Jason Kofke, Michi Meko, Lucha Rodriguez, Mike Germon, Jason Murphy and Katie Ridley.

“I will miss the artists,” said McConnell, who also co-owns the popular Edgewood bar, Mother, with Basehore. “It’s always great to see new, inspirational work, and so many of those artists are friends now, so there will be stories of our time working together.”

Along with pieces from 20 artists, many of whom have gained national and international acclaim, there will be stories and anecdotes about past shows, and a zine filled with recollections by artists, former interns and patrons of the gallery.

BeepBeep Gallery. Free. 696 Charles Allen Drive, Atlanta.