Marietta’s New Theatre in the Square, Latino Owned & Managed, Has One Goal: To Create Theatre That is Inclusive of All

Marietta's New Theatre in the Square 1You wouldn’t exactly expect to find a historic theatre nestled in the heart of Marietta Square to be producing the longest running off-Broadway Latin play, would you? Well, that perception is exactly what the team at Marietta’s New Theatre in the Square is working to change. 

Artistic director Emil Thomas is a southern gentleman with a New York attitude. Raised in a family of Puerto Rican New Yorkers in the quiet streets of Cobb County, GA, Emil learned early the value of time and space. His love for theatre began in middle school when he was first introduced to Musical Theatre. He continued to play on the stage in high school when he attended Cobb County School for Excellence in the Performing Arts. By the end of his sophomore year in high school Emil knew that he wanted to move from acting on stage to directing and so he traveled to Muncie, Indiana where he studied under the leadership of Karen Kessler at Ball State University as an undergrad directing student. 

After Emil graduated from Ball State, he returned to Atlanta to join forces with his dad, recognized Chef and video producer Raul Thomas who by now had assumed ownership of a historic theatre in Marietta Square.   With Emil as artistic director and Raul as owner, the Marietta’s New Theatre in the Square, opened its doors in the fall of 2016 as the only Latino-owned and managed theater in Cobb County and one of two Latino-managed theaters in the entire state.

Marietta’s New Theatre in the Square, has one goal: to create theatre for the 21 century that is inclusive of all, executed through “Actors Theatre of Georgia” the in-house production company at the venue.

With Emil at the helm, Actors Theatre of Georgia has put together a lineup of shows that are inclusive, intersectional, explosive, and entertaining. Last year, for example, he headed up a production of Hamlet in which all the traditionally male roles were played by female performers, and vice versa. This year he directed a theatrical adaptation of Native Son, an exploration of race and identity in the 1930s based on the Harlem Renaissance novel by Richard Wright. The theatre was honored to host the playwright herself, Nambi E. Kelley, who attended a performance of the show and gave a talkback afterwards. Kelley had nothing but positive things to say about Native Son and Marietta’s New Theatre in the Square: she gushed that the theatre is “family oriented, and uses love as the basis of how they create and share their artistry,” and called the team who works there “extraordinary FEARLESS artists.” 

Native Son cast and playwright copy
Now, Emil has brought a show to life for the Latin community of Marietta and Atlanta. La Gringa is a contemporary work which follows a young Nuyorican woman of Puerto Rican descent who thinks she knows everything there is to know about being Puerto Rican—until she visits her family in Puerto Rico for the first time and quickly learns better. As proud Latinos, Raul and Emil have done the extra legwork to ensure that La Gringa is an authentic and nostalgic experience from the moment you walk in the door. Performances of the show are prefaced with live music, and the usual fare at the concession stand has been expanded to include Puerto Rican favorites cooked by local chefs. Audiences at Friday and Saturday performances will be treated to a live DJ and an open dance floor after the show itself ends. 
Native Son warmup
Looking to the future, Emil and Raul plan to continue building the theatre’s audience, both in terms of size and diversity. They want to showcase more new work, particularly up and coming playwrights that are local to Georgia. And of course, they will continue to put together compelling and captivating seasons that showcase a full range of human voices and experiences.
 
In the meantime, though, they are putting all their heart and soul into La Gringa. This family-friendly comedy truly captures the experiences of Hispanic Americans and their family histories. La Gringa will make you laugh and cry, and the team at Marietta’s New Theatre in the Square and Actors Theatre of Georgia would love to see you there! 
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