Ponce City Market's RoleCall Theater supports emerging Atlanta filmmakers and playwrights

The Hot Chocolate Festival is located at the Ponce City Market heated outdoor walkway. (Courtesy of RoleCall Theater)

From sketch comedy to format plays, an independent theater at Ponce City Market known as RoleCall Theater supports up-and-coming filmmakers and playwrights, allowing Atlanta writers, directors, producers and actors to expand their creativity. The closing weekend of the Hot Chocolate New Play Festival is on stage in the Ponce City Market heated outdoor walkway, co-produced by RoleCall and the Some Bodies Theater Collective. Some Bodies co-founder Jennifer Boutell joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom and RoleCall founder Stephen Beehler to talk about this local theater celebration and the groups making it happen.

Beginning in 2018 as a technology platform helping creative producers navigate the logistics of making commercial and theater media, RoleCall mainly connected cast, crew, locations and props to projects that needed them. “We realized that we’re helping everyone create their products, but there’s still this problem of distribution and exposure,” said Beehler. 

The following year, the founder decided to create a space for showcasing his clients’ projects in the form of Atlanta Micro-Theater, later evolving into Ponce City Market’s RoleCall in February 2020. “We… had an amazing four-week run before we, and the world, shut down,” said Beehler. Undeterred by the pandemic’s disruption, the new theater eventually moved its productions into the parking lot’s outdoor amphitheater space. Thus, the growing theater scene managed to survive and keep its writers, producers and actors busy. Beehler’s collaborations with Boutell and the team at Some Bodies grew out of this tumultuous time, with the Collective and RoleCall now planning several co-productions for the new year.

RoleCall Theater gives a platform to emerging Atlanta playwrights and actors. (Courtesy of RoleCall Theater)

Some Bodies comprises a community of performers, technicians and designers, all finding their unique pathways through the world of Atlanta theater. “When the pandemic happened, we found each other at RoleCall,” said Boutell. “What RoleCall provided us was a place not only to do work, but they help us develop our work.”

“We can’t just walk in the door of a union house and say, ‘Please do my play now. It’s ready. I need to hear it,’” Boutell said. “So we really bonded. We would have rehearsals with our kids running around, and, you know, that became our bubble during that time, and it just really brought us closer together and supporting what we love.”

The festival’s entire program features new plays by Some Bodies Collective writers. This weekend, Boutell presents her play, “They Know Not,” a dark comedy that traps a mother and her two grown children in a hotel room. The event takes place in the Ponce City Market Trestle, a heated and covered outdoor area on the third floor. 

The Hot Chocolate New Play Festival concludes this weekend, Jan. 27 – 29. Jennifer Boutell’s original play “They Know Not” and the other festival features are available here. RoleCall’s current and upcoming productions, as well as their services for creators, can be explored at https://rolecall.co/theater/. More on Some Bodies Theater Collective can be found at http://somebodiestheate.com