Message from Jeff Watkins: Letter for the 2004-2005 Season

2004-05 Letter

Her name was Mary Anna Branson and her calling was to awaken the minds and
fire the souls of East Texas teenagers. She taught "Drama" at Sunset High
school in 1972.

Late last night I tried using the marvels of technology to find Mary Anna
Branson. I typed— to no avail.

I wanted to thank her. There are a lot of people who make my work here at
The New American Shakespeare Tavern© possible. And a great many others have
gone before.

But last night, I was thinking of Ms. Branson. Were it not for her courage
and vision in casting a six-foot, 140 lb teenager she barely knew as Bilbo
Baggins, well . . . the world would simply have never had a Shakespeare

And if you haven't been to the Shakespeare Tavern, you're in for a treat.
It's hard to describe because there's simply no other place in America quite
like it.

Think of it as an Elizabethan Playhouse on Peachtree Street: a place out of
time where you can eat, drink, and nourish the soul.

We do Shakespeare yes . . . we do a lot of Shakespeare . . . nine different
titles this year alone. But like Shakespeare's own company, we do lots of
great plays not by Shakespeare. This season we'll do Thronton Wilder's Our
Town, an all new Christmas Carol, Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The Rivals, an
original piece called The Cathedral . . . paired with one my personal
favorites: Niccolo Machiavelli's Mandrake.

The Mandrake was the play we took to London's Globe in 1995 when Atlanta
Shakespeare Company (ASC) became the first Americans to perform on that
historic stage. The new production features the comedic talents of Jeff
McKerley, Maurice Ralston, Tony Brown, and Marc McPherson. And the music is
simply exquisite.

And like all productions we do here at the Shakespeare Tavern, every choice
we make will be informed by that single clarion principle that we revere
above all others: the voice of the playwright. Because no matter where a
play may take us, here at America's only Shakespeare Tavern©, we believe
that the essence of theatre is the communion of actor, audience, and
playwright through poetry.

And to that end, we have built the Southeast's only Original Practice
Playhouse©. It's a simple structure with one overriding purpose: to make
every nuance that is Shakespeare's genius live in that glorious space
between the eyes of the actors and the hearts of our audience.

And the food is terrific, too.

So come to The Tavern and experience Shakespeare up close and personal; live
his poetry in the moment of creation, fused in the magical communion that
was and is heart and soul of the Elizabethan Theater.

And if you happen to be in East Texas and you meet a gray-haired, elf-like
lady with a wicked grin named Mary Anna Branson, tell her Jeff Watkins says


Very Truly Yours,

Jeff Watkins
Artistic Director, ASC

Letters from Jeff