Authenticity Theatre began in 2021 with a mission to produce thought-provoking shows that would create awareness about important social and cultural issues. Since the theatre’s founding, executive and creative director Sasha Keefer has continued to focus on staging shows with powerful societal messages, ones that deal with topics such as aging, divorce, racism, mental health challenges, sexual abuse, antisemitism, and topics that impact LGBTQ+ communities.
Later this year, from April 13-16, the theatre group will present, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Tennessee Williams’ epic tale of class tensions and sexual aggression set in New Orleans. Keefer will play the tragic heroine, Blanche DuBois, and the show will be directed by Atlantan Kara Cantrell. Pulitzer Prize-winning “How I Learned to Drive,” will be directed by Kate Donadio MacQueen and run later this year, from Oct.12-15. The drama uses the metaphor of driving to explore issues of pedophilia, incest, and misogyny, as well as the ideas of control and manipulation.
“Art and drama have such a power to heal people’s pain and wounds. As someone who has dealt with depression at various points in my life, I understand first-hand that being able to relate to a particular show or character can be a form of deep healing,” said Keefer.
Authenticity Theatre opened in 2022 with the show, “Pizza Man,” a dark comedy about two friends who turn the tables on sexism and misogyny by luring an unsuspecting pizza delivery man to their apartment. Originally slated for a one-night run, the production, staged at Lyric Theatre Alley, was extended for three additional nights due to audience response.
Later in 2022, Authenticity Theatre produced, “Doubt: A Parable,” a drama focused on questions surrounding a potential child molestation. The show opened to full houses for four consecutive nights at Seven Stages Theatre. Keefer played the lead role of Sister Aloysius Beauvier, a stern nun, who believes a priest has molested one of her students.
“The Diary of Anne Frank” was a staged reading produced in 2023 to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Held at Merely Players Presents in Doraville, the audience members were also treated to a performance by the klezmer band, Chaverim.
During each show’s run, a non-profit organization related to the play’s theme is invited to partner with the theatre group to help create greater awareness about a specific social issue. For example, during “Pizza Man,” the Giving Kitchen, a non-profit organization that provides emergency assistance to food service workers, partnered with Authenticity Theatre. For “Doubt, a Parable,” The Powerful Project, a non-profit that provides affordable mental health care services to those in need, was selected to participate. The selected organization is included in all the theatre’s outreach and marketing materials, provided with a lobby presentation area during performances and receives donations from audience and community members.
“Being selected to partner with Authenticity Theatre expanded our reach and generated community awareness about The Powerful Project. Our goal is to help individuals and families who might otherwise fall between the cracks gain access to free or affordable mental health care. Authenticity Theatre staff and cast members genuinely care about helping people, and our missions are perfectly aligned. Their name fits them perfectly,” said Lauren Foster, director of The Powerful Project.
“We want to contribute to other organizations who mirror our desire to make a difference. Our goal is to help empathy and compassion grow and thrive in order to heal and change our society,” said Keefer.
Keefer’s love of the theatre began at an early age here in Atlanta. Immigrating to the United States at the age of eight with her family from St. Petersburg, Russia, she found happiness and a strong command of the English language by performing in her school’s productions. After studying at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and performing in shows during high school, she went on to receive her BFA in theatre from the University of Georgia.
After taking a break from performing, raising her son, and teaching school, she returned to her first passion — acting — and founded Authenticity Theatre. Her husband, Scott Keefer, is also involved in the non-profit theatre company as managing director, responsible for management, operations, and marketing.
In addition to her passion for theatre and commitment to making an impact on greater societal issues, Keefer hopes to provide opportunities for people who may have a harder time getting cast in local performances because they are new to the area or not affiliated with a specific theatre troupe.
She mentioned that many groups tend to select the same people time and time again for their shows.
Her goal is to cast a wider net so more actors can get involved and Atlanta audiences can be exposed to a larger pool of acting talent.
For more information about Authenticity Theatre or to purchase tickets to “A Streetcar Named Desire” and the upcoming 2023 season, please visit www.authenticitytheater.org.
- Arts and Culture
- Debbie Diamond
- Authenticity Theatre
- Sasha Keefer
- mental health challenges
- Sexual Abuse
- A Streetcar Named Desire
- Tennessee Williams
- Blanche DuBois
- Kara Cantrell
- Pizza Man
- Lyric Theatre Alley
- Doubt: A Parable
- Seven Stages Theatre
- International Holocaust Remembrance Day
- The Diary of Anne Frank
- Giving Kitchen
- The Powerful Project
- St. Petersburg
- University of North Carolina School of the Arts
- University of Georgia