Founded in 2015, Marietta’s New Theatre in the Square was created when Raul Thomas acquired the historic building, originally called Theatre in the Square. Theatre in the Square had been a thriving nonprofit and the largest arts organization in Cobb County throughout the 1980’s and 90’s. In the early 2000’s, however, the theater fell into a funding crisis, and they closed their doors in 2012. This loss was a major blow to the community, until Raul Thomas bravely took up the mantle of restoring the theater to its glory, with a new, contemporary set of ideals.
Raul Thomas founded MNTITS as a family enterprise, appointing his son, N. Emil Thomas, its artistic director. When the two set off to plan their first full season in 2016, it was imperative to the Thomases that they establish MNTITS as an artistic home for all Cobb county and greater Atlanta residents. This meant that the stories told on MNTITS stages had to reflect the communities they were attempting to serve. N. Emil Thomas has described his vision for the theatre by saying, “I am a Black man who will create theatre written by, starring and about Black people. I am a Puerto Rican man who will create theatre written by, starring and about Latin people. I am an American who will create theatre written by, starring and about Americans. I am a human who will create theatre written by, starring and about humans, regardless of their race, gender, sexual identity, religion, age, or disability.” When Raul Thomas greets patrons, as he regularly attends performances and makes a point to get to know his guests, he does not simply thank them for coming, he says, “Welcome Home.”
The patrons of MNTITS have been affected by the warmth of the Thomas’ personable investment and inclusivity initiatives. Since 2016, the theater has seen rapidly increasing attendance, selling out shows from Nambi Kelley’s adaptation of Native Son, to the smash musical hit In The Heights, to the southern classic Moonlight and Magnolias. In return, the Thomases have invested back in the community, offering playwright talkbacks, post-show celebrations, and charity drives. Raul Thomas has organized massive collection through MNTITS to provide aid to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and the 2020 earthquake. They have held drives for Toys for Tots and MUST Ministries. Since its inception, MNTITS has prioritized both the quality of theatre it stages, and the ways in which the success of that theatre can build a better community.
In 2019, MNTITS was given the Broadway World regional award for Theatre of the Year. N. Emil Thomas was awarded Best Director for his work on In the Heights, which itself was awarded Best Musical. They earned four additional awards honoring actors, choreographers, and designers.
None of this success, however, has remotely altered the Thomas family’s mission. MNTITS still seeks to deliver high quality theatrical content that reflects the many communities of Cobb and greater Atlanta. They are still family-run, and those who they employ are treated like members of their family. They remain committed to giving back to the community and to pushing the limits of both the performance arts and the capacity of those arts to create real positive change. In short, MNTITS is the embodiment of restoration and reinvention. By putting the community first, the Thomas family has resurrected a bygone town center, and created a hub for entertainment, education, and collective betterment. They have worked hard to build this now thriving business, but in doing so they have fostered an artistic home.
Marietta’s New Theatre in the Square is a melting pot of cultural experiences telling stories of Ethnic American in our intimate proscenium black box theatre.We are a community theatre that time pride in celebrating our diverse rich community. We are your home away from home. The place where all are welcomed and differences are celebrated. We strive to be our best in the community and on the stage. Whether it be your first date, an anniversary, a holiday, a school trip, or just your next day off, please consider checking out our next production.
Artistic Director’s Statement
Everyone is blessed with three different warning signs within their body; their brain, their heart, and their gut. As we age our warning signs are trained to answer to society’s standards. Theatre is supposed to be the reflection and embodiment of change in society. We write language that simulates the warning signs within audiences and ourselves. We use spectacle to simulate the warning signs within audiences and ourselves. Our vulnerability on stage simulates the warning signs within audiences and ourselves. As artists, we are responsible for making the statements on stage that the “accountant” continues to ignore even though he sees them every day. We are meant to tell stories of the past and present. We include when the world excludes. We breathe life into those no longer with us for various reasons. We remind each other of what the world looked like when there wasn’t peace, respect, dignity, love or hope. We teach. We share. We give. That is theatre. That is my theatre. My work is simply an exercise of my warning signs. Theatre should match the community it lives in. I am a black man who will create theatre written by, starring and about Black people. I am a Puerto Rican man who will create theatre written by, starring and about Latin people. I am an American who will create theatre written by, starring and about Americans. I am a human who will create theatre written by, starring and about humans regardless of their race, gender, sexual identity, religion, age, or disability. My Theatre will reflect the world I live in honestly, visually, physically, religiously, sexually, politically, and lovingly. I am a source of evolution. It is my intention to constantly evolve with any community of artists that want to make theatre about us, for us, by us.
It is under this umbrella that I will lead Marietta’s New Theatre in the Square to create there that is inclusive of all. Theatre that speaks to audiences from multiple generations. Theatre that is true, fun, caring, and worth the lesson. 30 years of history just doesn’t go out the door. Here’s to 30 more!