The Making of Third Country

Third Country was developed through Horizon’s New South Play Festival program, dedicated to creating new plays from, for, and about the contemporary South. The play is part of Horizon’s decade-long journey of producing new plays that connect our community to the world through theatre, including plays about Afghanistan, Iraq, South Africa, Darfur and the Muslim community here in Atlanta.  The idea for a play about Clarkston and the refugee community began percolating when Horizon Co-Artistic Director Lisa Adler was introduced to the community through a friend and then read about Clarkston and the refugee boys soccer team, The Fugees, in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times in 2006 and 2007.  Then the book about the same subject, Outcasts United by Warren St. John, was published and became a best-seller. Its compelling story of long-time residents facing thousands of newcomers from different cultures was read by communities and schools around the country. This seemed like the perfect opportunity for Horizon to move forward with a story about Clarkston.  Horizon approached local playwright and actress Suehyla El-Attar, whose play The Perfect Prayer had been developed and premiered at Horizon, to work on a loose adaptation of the book and secured a prestigious national MAP Fund grant to help support the process. However, they soon learned that the book adaptation was off limits having already been optioned for a movie. Says El-Attar, “I cursed Hollywood and then challenged myself to find another story in the town of Clarkston. And I did. It was the town itself.”

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As El-Attar conducted interviews with residents of the Clarkston community over the next couple of years, the story started to come together. She explains, “I would describe Clarkston with a line I eventually deleted from the script. ‘It’s as if the Tower of Babel crash-landed here.’ But it’s also a quiet, small, southern town with railroad tracks literally dividing it in half – and those tracks are also a cultural dividing line.” El-Attar compiled all of the people she met doing research into six characters who represent the major perspectives held by those in Clarkston as the city has grown and changed over the last 10 years. The play’s setting became the fictional town of Sidington and real events that took place over time were compressed. Ultimately Third Country is “a story that is not black and white, but very honest.”  The characters find a commonality in their humanity and in their search for “a safe place to call home.”   

Third Country is about the changing face of our American communities today,” says Adler who is serving as director, dramaturg, and producer of the play. “New immigrants from around the world are moving into our towns and suburbs transforming them into multi-cultural and multi-lingual centers.  And it’s not just the newcomers who have to adapt to life in this new America. How do we negotiate this successfully?  What are the challenges?  Can we learn to live alongside others with different cultures and beliefs? The small community of Clarkston is a microcosm for this kind of great demographic change nationally, and they have had some extraordinary successes. We hope the play is an inspiration for people and communities facing similar challenges in Atlanta and across the country.”

Adler has been a champion of the work, securing funding for the play and building community support by working closely with refugee service organizations and city officials. Third Country is funded in part by The MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Fulton County Advocacy Information

Public Hearing

August 21, 2013 at 10 AM
Fulton County Government Assembly Hall
141 Pryor Street, 30303
Please wear green to be easily recognized by the Board of Commissioners.

Please email Patron Relations Manager Manda Wilhite, mwilhite@horizontheatre.com if you plan to attend

Fulton County Commissioners

John Eaves, District 1, Chair
404.612.8206
john.eaves@fultoncountyga.gov

Robb Pitts, District 2
404.612.8210
robb.pitts@fultoncountyga.gov

Liz Hausmann, District 3
404.612.8213
liz.hausmann@fultoncountyga.gov

Tom Lowe, District 4
404.612.8218
tom.lowe@fultoncountyga.gov

Emma Darnell, District 5, Vice Chair
404.612.8222
emma.darnell@fultoncountyga.gov

Joan Garner, District 6
404.612.8226
joan.garner@fultoncountyga.gov

William Edwards, District 7
404.612.8230
william.edwards@fultoncountyga.gov

Sample Phone Call
Call your Commissioner and simply state that you are very concerned and not in favor of there being any cuts in the Dept. of Arts and Culture. Please your name, organization (if applicable), what neighborhood/part of town you reside in and the economic impact it could have on your area of the County.

Sample Email

Dear Commissioner _______,

Thank you for continuing to invest in Fulton County’s growing creative industry! The bottom line is that the arts create jobs and produce tax revenue. Currently, Fulton County is home to over 4,000 arts related businesses which is the fourth largest number per capita in the United States.* While cutting arts funding won’t eliminate the Fulton County budget gap, it will damage previously funded arts organizations’ ability to provide jobs and goods and services to the community.

The arts are important to me personally and to Fulton County. (It would help enhance the plea by inserting your own personal statement here).

The arts have a huge economic impact on our county, generating over $365 million in revenues in Fulton County last year alone* and over $17 million in local government revenue**. Fulton County’s investment in the arts is an effective means of stimulating business activity, attracting tourism, providing cultural education to our children, stabilizing property values, attracting and retaining young, career-driven, artistic and creative residents and businesses and positively impacting the quality of life for all. I urge you to support the continued funding of the Contracts for Arts Services program which promotes and allows access to the arts to a wide range of citizens while also giving Fulton County a sustainable arts community. It’s not smart to cut the arts!

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME (and address if you live in Fulton County)

*Fulton County Arts & Culture – Economic Impact, Atlanta Regional Commission, 2012
**American for the Arts, Arts & Economic Prosperity Calculator

Please copy Patron Relations Manager Manda Wilhite, mwilhite@horizontheatre.com on your emails to the commissioners.

The Book Club Play: Interview with Karen Zacarias

karen-interview

The excerpts below are from the article “Paging the Playwright: A Conversation with Karen Zacarias” published by Arena Stage. To read the full article click here.

THE BOOKS AND QUESTIONS IN THE PLAY

David: How many books are read in the course of the play?

Karen: There are six meetings, so there are six books that are supposed to be read, but about 30 books are mentioned.

Pablo: How did you choose the books read in the play?

Karen: First, they couldn’t be unknown. The popular ones are The Da Vinci Code – one of the top ten most popular books in the world. Even if it’s old, a lot of people have read it. Twilight is not just a book, it’s a phenomenon, like Harry Potter. I also knew I had to find a book about people feeling trapped and not being able to breathe and when I came across Age of Innocence, I knew it was perfect. Moby Dick because it’s a dense, hard read, and everybody feels they know Moby Dick. It’s a great American classic, but if you ask who has read Moby Dick, very few people have. They’re all American books. It took a lot of time to figure out, and there’s still a part of me that’s thinks, “Oh, is Twilight too current. In ten years will this play be irrelevant?” But I’ll worry about that later.

Pablo:  What are the questions that the film maker asks in the play?

Karen:  “What had the biggest impact on you as a young kid?” I find that to be a great blog question. Everybody has an answer for that – or “What book that changed your life?” Because oddly enough The Da Vinci Code changes Will’s life.

Amrita:  What other questions do you think the play raises?

 Karen:  Why do people come to theater? What’s the last good book you read?   A good book will do two things – it will make you feel connected to the characters and it will make you feel connected to real people. Continue reading

Is this light enough?

batterA few years ago on the way to Florida, I stopped at a Waffle House and ordered a waffle — specifying that I wanted it very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, extra light.  The waitress gets a plate, scoops some batter on it, and sets it in front of me asking, “Is this light enough?”

- Clyde B.

Want to submit your Waffle House story? Email it to marketing@horizontheatre.com.

Good Food & Championship Wrestling

wafflehouseMy wife and I were traveling south on I-75 in Florida somewhere near Live Oak and decided it was time for a waffle. We stopped in, got the usual friendly service, and were soon happily eating away.

This Waffle House sat next to a motel. In the midst of our meal two beefy guys came sprinting from the motel – one chasing the other. Was it a friendly race to the Waffle House? Continue reading

Fulton County Advocacy Information

Public Hearing

January 2, 2013 at 10 AM
Fulton County Government Assembly Hall
141 Pryor Street, 30303

Please email Patron Relations Manager Manda Wilhite, mwilhite@horizontheatre.com if you plan to attend

Fulton County Commissioners

John Eaves, District 1, Chair
john.eaves@fultoncountyga.gov

Robb Pitts, District 2
robb.pitts@fultoncountyga.gov

Liz Hausmann, District 3
liz.hausmann@fultoncountyga.gov

Tom Lowe, District 4
tom.lowe@fultoncountyga.gov

Emma Darnell, District 5, Vice Chair
emma.darnell@fultoncountyga.gov

Joan Garner, District 6
joan.garner@fultoncountyga.gov

William Edwards, District 7
william.edwards@fultoncountyga.gov

Sample Email

Dear Commissioner _______,

Thank you for continuing to invest in Fulton County’s growing creative industry! The bottom line is that the arts create jobs and produce tax revenue. Currently, Fulton County is home to over 4,000 arts related businesses which is the fourth largest number per capita in the United States.* While cutting arts funding won’t eliminate the Fulton County budget gap, it will damage previously funded arts organizations’ ability to provide jobs and goods and services to the community.

The arts are important to me personally and to Fulton County. (It would help enhance the plea by inserting your own personal statement here).

The arts have a huge economic impact on our county, generating over $365 million in revenues in Fulton County last year alone* and over $17 million in local government revenue**. Fulton County’s investment in the arts is an effective means of stimulating business activity, attracting tourism, providing cultural education to our children, stabilizing property values, attracting and retaining young, career-driven, artistic and creative residents and businesses and positively impacting the quality of life for all. I urge you to support the continued funding of the Contracts for Arts Services program which promotes and allows access to the arts to a wide range of citizens while also giving Fulton County a sustainable arts community. It’s not smart to cut the arts!

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME (and address if you live in Fulton County)

*Fulton County Arts & Culture – Economic Impact, Atlanta Regional Commission, 2012
**American for the Arts, Arts & Economic Prosperity Calculator

Please copy Patron Relations Manager Manda Wilhite, mwilhite@horizontheatre.com on your emails to the commissioners.

Chris Kayser Returns as Richard in Time Stands Still

Chris Kayser returns to Horizon Theatre as Richard in Time Stands Still after his exciting performance in last season’s Superior Donuts.

Horizon patrons might remember you from?

Quills, The Lonesome West, Skylight, The Drawer Boy, and Superior Donuts.

What has been your favorite role at Horizon?

Arthur in Superior Donuts.

Who are you playing in Time Stands Still?

Richard Ehrlich, the photo editor the magazine Jamie and Sarah often work for. But he has also had a long and personal relationship with both of them. Continue reading