every tongue confess


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every tongue confess

By Marcus Gardley

The summer heat is rising and flames are flying high in this fantastical whodunit. Wrapped in combustible comedy and the sweat-soaked music of the Deep South, intergenerational stories of loss and redemption collide. Gardley blends ancient myth and magical realism with the local TV news to create a fiery theatrical furnace in which some will be saved, some will be purged, and the truth cannot escape.

Press Release

Read the official every tongue confess press release.

Artistic Director’s Note

Hailed by critics as the next August Wilson, Marcus Gardley is one of the hottest young playwrights in America, a rising star with productions and commissions at dozens of theatres across the country. He is a poet-playwright whose work is rooted in both history and magic realism; his fresh and unique blend of language, humor, imagery, and music stirs the heart and soul. “I want to make people dream,” says Gardley. “I want to inspire people, give them hope, talk about difficult things. Ask big questions…My hope in all my works is to look at history in a new way, to tell the stories that we don’t know, the stories that were hidden.” “In all of my plays, there’s a sense of community…This is the reason I do theatre—to bring people together.” No wonder we were drawn to Marcus’ work: his personal artistic goals are a perfect fit with Horizon’s mission of connecting people, inspiring hope, and promoting positive change through the stories of our times.

Originally produced at Arena Stage in Washington D.C., every tongue confess received nominations for the Steinberg New Play Award, the Charles MacArthur Award, and was a recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award. Said the Washingtonian of the play, “Part magic realism, part miracle play, part parable, every tongue confess is a sort of epic theater-poem exploring sin, loss, and redemption…Gardley’s script combines humor with raw, searing emotion.”

In every tongue confess, the summer heat is rising and flames are flying high as we embark on a passion-filled fantastical mystery, threaded with comedy, blues, gospel, gossiping church-goers, and ghostly secrets. “I think this play is its own sacred story,” Marcus explains. “It is the history of a town drenched in as much fact as it is fiction. The world of the play has its own rules, its own folklore…it invites the audience…to wonder about the magic, to relish in the realism, to invest in the dreams and fears of the characters and to hopefully leave with a deeper understanding of how we all are inextricably linked. The powerful, unexplainable beauty about the sacred story is that it doesn’t overwhelm you with facts but rather it highlights human truths so vital to our existence that it beckons the presence of God.”

This is an intergenerational story in which a widow and spiritual healer saves and is saved, a teenager with musical talent is inspired to dream big, a stranger seeks a long-lost son, and a father struggles to connect with a daughter he never knew. “My job is to write to all people,” Marcus says of his work. “I want to find a way to bring more young people and diverse groups into theater.” With a multigenerational and racially diverse cast of characters, the play provides many windows through which audience members can discover their own truths as they unravel this tale of race, faith, and family.

Director Tom Jones, calls the play “a highly theatrical rollercoaster ride that is both provocative and redemptive. People will be healed by this play.” Back for his 10th summer as one of Horizon’s core artistic collaborators, Tom brings his signature high-energy, kinetic directing style to this contemporary Southern musical story, calling to mind his work in past Horizon plays such as The Bluest Eye and Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery. Co-creating the world of the play with her original music and soundscape is composer S. Renée Clark, a long-time collaborator with both Horizon and Tom Jones. She composed music for Jones’ Sheddin’ at Horizon last summer and is the Suzi Award-winning musical director of Horizon’s long-running Avenue Q. “I grew up in the church and my father was a preacher, so gospel naturally comes out of me,” says Marcus about the importance of music in his work. “But gospel, at its root, is the blues. It’s very powerful. I like music that gets to the heart of the story without too much flourish.”

Marcus Gardley grew up in the 1980s in Oakland, CA, raised by parents and grandparents who were from the South, and he was surrounded by a tight knit community. “Growing up in Oakland was really magical. I have a huge family that all lived in the same vicinity. It was a huge community…I grew up in a political environment, but also a spiritual and diverse one. It had a huge effect on me.” He spent his Sundays in church listening to his father preach, and the black church has informed and inspired some of his finest work. Though he started out as a poet, Gardley became captivated by playwriting during his college years at San Francisco State. He went on to Yale School of Drama where he studied under celebrated African American playwright Lynn Nottage. While he was still in graduate school at Yale, a classmate and former Horizon employee encouraged him to workshop one of his plays at Horizon. So Horizon first met Gardley when he came to workshop his play Sweet Dream Grandpa in our 2003 New South Play Festival. It has been a thrill to see him evolve from gifted developing artist to nationally-acclaimed professional.

Mystery and magic, pain and healing, love and regret, beauty and horror, music and dancing, fire and hail are all part of the journey tonight. Open your heart, spirit and senses to this story of the ties that bind us, the blood that connects us, skin that shouldn’t define us, and the truth that sets us free.

—Lisa Adler, Co-Artistic/Producing Director

Performance Dates

July 12 – August 25, 2013


Wednesday, Thursday & Friday at 8:00 PM
Saturday at 3:00 PM and 8:30 PM
Sunday at 5:00 PM


$20 – $30*

*Ticket prices are subject to availability. 8% sales tax will be added to all ticket orders.


Bernadette – Deborah Bowman*
Bennie – Lauren Boyd
Shadrack – Richard Hatcher
Brother/Bobby – Enoch King*
Stoker Pride – Brian Kurlander*
Missionary/Tender Meeks – Bernardine Mitchell*
Blacksmith – Victor Love*
Elder/Jeremiah – Brad Raymond
Mother Sister – Minka Wiltz*

Creative Team

Playwright – Marcus Gardley
Directors – Thomas W. Jones II
Composer/Music Director – S. Renée Clark
Scenic and Costume Designers – Isabel A. Curley-Clay & Moriah Curley-Clay
Lighting Designer – Mary Parker
Sound Designer – Jason Polhemus
Costume Designer – Nyrobi Moss
Prop Designers – Pamela Hickey
Video Designer – Mike Post
Stage Manager – Jude Futral*
Dramaturg – Adewunmi Oke

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association

“A piece of theater you really want to experience.”
– Encore Atlanta

“Everything is wrapped in a compelling theatrical story that moves as it amuses, that shocks as it inspires awe. This is far and away one of the best productions of the year.”
– Atlanta Theatre Buzz

“Filled with magic, drama, and myth. And yet is still has a huge element of humor!”
–  Busking at the Seams


Atlanta Theatre Buzz (scroll down for review)
All-News 106.7 Radio (mp3)
Atlanta Theatre Fans
Atlanta InTown


Damzel in Distress – Now Playing in Atlanta: every tongue confess
Capture Life Through the Lens – Every Tongue Confess
Northside Neighbor – Atlanta actors take the stage in ‘every tongue confess’
Neighbor Newspapers – Horizon presents ‘every tongue confess’
Busking at the Seams – S. Renée Clark puts the heart in every tongue confess