Actor’s Express Brings Focus to Atlanta Playwrights with New Play Reading Festival Threshold

ATLANTA, GA – November 11, 2015 – Actor’s Express presents Threshold, a new festival of new play readings December 5-6, 2016. This year’s festival focuses on works by local playwrights. Scheduled readings are Trick Church by S.M. Shepard-Massat, I Love My Brother by Johnny Drago and Obsession by Lee Nowell. Scott Turner Schofield, known for becoming the first openly transgender male actor to play a major role on a soap opera, will star in Drago’s I Love My Brother in a role Drago created for the actor. This year's inaugural festival is produced by Clifton Guterman, National New Play Network Producer in Residence for the 2015-2016 season.

Tickets are $10 for each reading or $20 for a festival pass, which includes entry to all three readings and a panel discussion with the playwrights. Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling 404-607-7469.

Trick Church
By S.M. Shepard-Massat
Directed by Andrea Frye
December 5 at 2 PM

“Evidently, tha’s a question fo’ bigger minds than yo’s, baby.”

Award-winning playwright S.M. Shepard-Massat’s riveting Actor’s Express debut centers on a fateful Christmas, when secrets converge at the Tee Tee Room Lounge and the Kimono My Place Bowling and Bar.

Playwrights Panel Discussion
December 5 at 4 PM

Join the Threshold New Play Festival playwrights Sherry Shepard-Massat, Johnny Drago and Lee Nowell for a moderated discussion about their plays and their craft between the two Saturday readings. Admission to the Playwrights Panel Discussion is free with a ticket to any Threshold reading.

I Love My Brother
By Johnny Drago
Directed by Melissa Foulger
December 5 at 8 PM

"I hope we're still friends after this night. I just let it all out."

In this pair of one-act comedies, Johnny Drago examines the ways queer people relate to their straight siblings.

By Lee Nowell
Directed by David Crowe
December 6 at 2 PM

“He said...he wanted to help me. With my career.”

A theatre director becomes dangerously obsessed with his leading lady in this thriller from the writer of the 2010 Actor’s Express world premiere Albatross.

S.M. Shepard-Massat attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts as a dramatic writing major (1983) and interned at London’s Royal Court Theatre (1991). Her full-length play Waiting to Be Invited has been produced in theatres across the U.S., including Denver Center Theatre, Chicago’s Victory Gardens, Washington, DC’s African Continuum Theatre Company, The Kennedy Center, The St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre and KC Melting Pot since its premiere in 1999. Her play, Someplace Soft to Fall won the 2001 Francesca Primus Award and was produced by St. Paul, Minnesota’s Penumbra Theatre Company in 2002. Her play Levee James was chosen to be developed in 2002 at the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, premiered at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre, was a Susan Smith Blackburn Prize nominee for that year, and has continued to be produced. Deeds was also chosen for development at the O’Neill Center in 2003. Starving premiered at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in 2005, was nominated for another Francesca Primus Award and won the Helen Hayes Award in Washington, DC for Best New Play or Musical for 2006. For Waiting to Be Invited, she received the Adrienne Kennedy Society’s Young Dramatist’s Award, Delaware Theatre Company’s Connections Award for Best Original Play, the Roger L. Stevens Award from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Westword Best of Denver Award for Best New Play, The American Theatre Critics Association’s M. Elizabeth Osborn Award, and the Black Theatre Alliance Award for Best Playwriting. Waiting to Be Invited has been published in Women Playwrights: The Best of 2000 (Smith & Kraus), and both Waiting to Be Invited and Levee James were published by Dramatic Publishing. Six of her plays were included as part of Alexander Street Press Publishing’s series on the top three hundred most promising dramatists of the Twentieth Century. Monologues taken from her work have been published in New Monologues for Women by Women II (Heinemann).

Johnny Drago is an Atlanta-based playwright and performer whose work has been produced or developed by Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Barter Theatre, 7 Stages, The Weird Sisters Theatre Project, Theater Emory, DramaTech, The Process Theatre Co., and Actor's Express. His plays include Cul-De-Sac, Hot Pink, I Said I Was Sorry, The Boy Whose Eye Wandered, I Hope This Dudn't Break Your Little Heart, Trash, Psycho Blvd, The Birdwatchers, and Baby and Jennifer Defy the Laws of Timespace and All That That Implies. As New American Junk, he has written, directed, and performed in productions of Buckhead is Burning, Little Fruitcake’s [Non-Specific Winter Holiday] Miracle, Billy Budd: A Portrait in Seamen, and Attack of The 6-Foot Vagina! As Dismantle Theater (with Erik Thurmond), he has written, developed, and produced the experimental performance works Ripple, Brick by Brick I Will Tear Down These Walls Between Us, NSA, and Mine! Johnny is a former Creative Loafing Annual Fiction Contest Winner, MINT Gallery Leap Year Artist, City of Atlanta Emerging Artist in the field of Literature, WonderRoot Writer-in-Residence, and Dashboard Co-op associate artist. He is currently at work on a newly-commissioned adaptation of The Duchess of Malfi for Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Lee Nowell is a veteran of Hedgerow Theatre, America’s oldest resident rep company, where she was nominated for the New York Drama League’s Directors Lab. She was co-artistic director of her own theatre, Metropolitan Theatre Alliance, and currently serves on the advisory board of the Essential Theatre. A cum laude graduate of Kenyon College, she has adjudicated plays for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council and has served as a judge for The Governor’s Honors Program. She is the new Managing Director Artistic Associate at Synchronicity Theatre. Prior to joining Synchronicity, she was the Senior Coordinator for The S/L/A/M Collaborative for fourteen years. An award winning playwright who was nominated for The List, Ms. Nowell’s work has been presented at Actors Express (Albatross, Paper House, Obsession), Theatre in the Square (Urban Fairytale), Horizon Theatre (Blue Angels Weekend), 7 Stages (Preacher from the Black Lagoon, The Commission, which will be presented December 12, 2015), and The Big House (How to Survive Being Human) in addition to her commission for Synchronicity (Beyond Reasonable Doubt: The Troy Davis Project, premiering April 2016). Ms. Nowell is also in the vanguard of the burgeoning Salon Theatre movement in Atlanta.

Scott Turner Schofield is an Atlanta native and Emory University graduate whose first professional theatre production, This Train, took place at Actor's Express in 2003. A critically-acclaimed solo performer, Schofield has toured internationally with his one man shows and spent 2012-2013 acting with the National Theater of France and at Festival d'Avignon. In May, 2015, he became the first transgender actor in Daytime television with a breakthrough role on CBS's "The Bold and the Beautiful."

Tickets are $10 for individual readings or $20 for a festival pass, which includes entry to all three readings. The Playwrights Panel Discussion is free with the purchase of any reading ticket.

Purchase tickets online at or by calling 404.607.7469. For info, email

*Ticket prices are subject to availability. Order early for best pricing. 8% sales tax will be added to all orders.

City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs
Kilpatrick Townsend
Fulton County Board of Commissioners
Holland IT Consulting
Relevance Advisors
The Shubert Foundation

Since our founding in 1988, we have sought to nurture the next generation of playwrights through workshops, readings, and full productions of new plays; to develop and nurture Atlanta's artistic community through theatre training; to catalyze the dialogue essential to the vitality of our neighborhood and our city; and to enhance Atlanta's reputation nationally as a thriving center for live performance.

Actor’s Express is located on the west side of Atlanta in the King Plow Arts Center at 887 W. Marietta Street, Suite J-107, Atlanta, Georgia 30318.