As the theatre gets ready to mount its 20th anniversary season, co-founders Anita and Bob Farley reflected on GET’s beginnings and why it is still viable even when other theatrical companies in the metro area have disappeared.
“When I think of our start-up I have two very vivid images,” Anita Farley said.
“The first is that we emptied out the Farley living room, put in a huge partners desk got a designated telephone line and hooked up a Macintosh computer. Each day Bob and I would get together with Tess and Mark Kincaid and Eddie King to plan and develop what would become Georgia Ensemble Theatre.
“The second is after we moved into what was then the Roswell Auditorium. We had the Conservatory up and running but we had not raised enough money for our first season and had to postpone.
“Mary Smith, who was instrumental in developing much of our community support, walked into the office and said she had no idea we needed money, whereby she laid a very significant check on my desk and vowed to bring in more, and she did. For the next month she would come in several times a week with checks from folks she knew or did business with. “
Her husband Bob, who is GET’s artistic director, said there is no one answer as to why the theatre has survived when others haven’t.
“I know that at GET we have weathered some mighty storms in our history, thanks to a brave and hard-working Board of Trustees, tenacious leadership, a small yet dedicated staff of creative and seasoned professionals and attracting what I believe are Atlanta’s most loyal theatre patrons,” he said.
GET is Roswell’s resident theatre company. Its offices are in the Cultural Arts Center, where it has use of the stage for its multiple productions each season.
In choosing the productions for this season, Bob Farley said he wanted each of them and the season as a whole “to be the centerpiece of a yearlong 20th Anniversary celebration for our community. I clearly want to start the 20th Anniversary season with a bang that would converge our beginnings with where we are in the here and now.”
That first play, “You Can’t Take it With You,” was authored by two masters of literate comedy, George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. Another work by this dynamic writing duo, one of the most epic and clever American comedies ever written, “The Man Who Came to Dinner” will open the season Sept. 6.
Farley said a show that showcases the rich history and tradition of GET’s success story opens Nov. 8. “A Taffeta Christmas,” with its rich four-part harmony send-up of holiday pop standards, is a revival of GET’s most popular productions ever.
“A Swell Party” opens at GET Jan. 10. “Prolific Atlanta playwright Topher Payne is very popular with our patrons and we have commissioned him to create the world premiere of his newest work,” Farley said.
“I also felt it was an important part of the celebration to bring to our stage a hot property that others get to see in regional theatres throughout the country but you may not be able to see here in Atlanta, Off Broadway, or Broadway. We are fortunate to have secured the rights to ’Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club,’ he said.
“This script is scary, thrilling and remarkably clever, unlike any Holmes story you might ever have imagined.” It opens Feb. 28.
To cap the season, starting April 11, Farley said GET will be looking to its future. “Now that we are 20 years young I wanted to take our first step into the realm of the classic Broadway musical with ‘Hello, Dolly,’” he said.
GET’s Theatre for Youth productions will be “Aesop’s Fables,” “James and the Giant Peach” and the 17th annual production of “And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank.”
For more information, go to www.get.org or call (770) 641-1260.