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ART BEAT: Onion Man Productions harvests a bumper crop at Lionheart

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Special Photo Amy Cain and Daniel Carter Brown in a performance from the 2011 Onion Man Productions eSummer Harvest.i This yearis production will run June 14-24 at the Lionheart Theatre.

NORCROSS -- Norcross will be the focus of this week's theatrical excitement as Onion Man Productions presents its "Summer Harvest 2012," a collection of eight original 10-minute plays by local playwrights. The Lionheart Theatre stage will showcase these plays on Thursdays through starting this week and continuing through June 24.

The productions feature the talents of 30 actors, nine local playwrights, and eight directors. Overseeing it all is Artistic Director Daniel Carter Brown, described by Onion Man Productions' founder James Beck as "the perfect director for this type of show that we produce each June." Tickets range from $12 to $16 and can be purchased at the door. Credit cards are not accepted. Thursday, Friday and Saturday shows begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday shows begin at 3 p.m.

"We produce this show to bring to the stage new short plays by area writers, local directing and acting talent," Beck said. "We do it because we believe that we can have a large impact on bringing wonderful theater to Atlanta audiences, that to create a rich, vibrant theatre community happens from, well, the ground up."

The plays themselves explore relationships. The 10-minute plays performed each show are: "Birds of a Feather" by Steve Pryor; "Confessions at the End of the World" by Jessica Alexander; "Cruel History" by James Beck; "Eight, Nine, Ten, Shoot!"by Michael Jared Tarver; "Man Baby" by Haley Rice; "Runaway" by Paige Steadman; "Waiting for Leonard" by Raymond Fast; and "Wake Up Call" by Greg Fitzgerald.

"What we do," Beck said, "is not simply a collection of short plays. The production is a well-crafted show built around a collection of plays. Two of the larger theatre companies in Atlanta, as well as a number of smaller companies, are now following our lead, offering a collection of short plays."

The "Harvest" is now in its fourth year. Onion Man Productions also offers acting and play-writing classes in a facility at 33 College St. in Norcross, just across the street from Lionheart Theatre. Along with Beck, Daniel Carter Brown teaches acting at Onion Man Productions as well as teaching students through Atlanta's Shakespeare Tavern.

The mission of this nonprofit organization is specific.

"The mission of the company is to produce new plays that are grounded in good storytelling and construction, but also in writing that explores the larger questions of life," Beck said. "The company produces writers who are passionate about their work, but also understand that meaningful work always reaches beyond the artist's singular perspective."

In addition to the Thursday through Sunday performing schedule, Onion Man Productions has added events. On Monday, June 18, there will be an Onion Man Productions Student Night with readings of plays by the organization's students. On Tuesday, June 19, there will be an Open Mic (without the mic) Night where Beck said "pretty much anything goes." Wednesday, June 20, will feature Sketch and Improv night. There is no cost for these events. Contact Onion Man Productions for specific times at 404-519-7591. This number is also valid for questions regarding the "Harvest" performances and Onion Man Productions classes. You may also visit the website at www.onionmanproductions.com.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.