Briefs: Cleage receives Robeson award, Payne’s “You Enjoy Myself” staged, more

The Actors’ Equity Association and the Actors’ Equity Foundation have awarded the 2022 Paul Robeson Award to Atlanta playwright Pearl Cleage. 

Presented to individuals or organizations leveraging theater to go beyond the stage to a commitment to freedom of expression and conscience, the Paul Robeson Award recognizes responsibility to society and dedication to the betterment of humankind. It’s the only award jointly administered by Actors’ Equity Association and Actors’ Equity Foundation. 

Cleage is the current playwright in residence at Alliance Theatre. Her newest work, Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard, will be staged at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., and directed by Seema Sueko. Performances begin September 22 and continue through October 15. 

The award ceremony took place at the Woodruff Arts Center. 


Atlanta playwright Topher Payne’s new play, You Enjoy Myself, premieres this month in Boulder, Colorado, as part of Local Theater Company’s 13th season. 

According to Payne, the theater’s co-artistic director, Betty Hart, was based in Atlanta before her move to Colorado and directed the world premiere of another of Payne’s plays, Evelyn in Purgatory, at Essential Theatre in 2012. As for other local connections, Payne’s husband, Charlie James Cote, serves as the dramaturg for the production, and the cast includes Anne Sandoe, who is the mother of Atlanta actress Kate Donadio MacQueen.

Eden Lane, left, and Jihad Milhelm in rehearsal for “You Enjoy Myself.” (Courtesy Local Theater Company)

“Betty reached out last year to ask if I had anything I was working on that I would like to submit to their new play development series,” Payne told ArtsATL. “I took that as a prompt to pick up the script I’d set down at the beginning of lockdown in 2020.”

You Enjoy Myself is a powerful reflection on our current society about what happens when we have true friendships and time to explore who we want to be,” Hart said in a press release.

Payne said the workshopping process for You Enjoy Myself was “joyful and productive.” “I was delighted to continue collaborating with them on a premiere,” he said. 

Atlanta audiences will have the opportunity to see You Enjoy Myself; the October 12 performance will be live-streamed and available for five days. 


Underground Atlanta has partnered with Audio Video Club and Kristan Woolford for a joint cinematic vision on Friday, September 1. FilmCon will offer an engaging platform for emerging filmmakers such as Brittany E. Walton, Morgan Matthews, Lanese Love, Vicente Varela-Gomez, Esther Jane Lord, Naima Cooper and others to showcase their talents.

According to Bianca Cato, founder and executive director of Audio Video Club,“We are a projector and screen — a local nonprofit organization dedicated to elevating the art of film and local filmmakers. AVC is very excited for the partnership with Underground Atlanta’s First Fridays to elevate a few locals and their film creations.”

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