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Peachtree's players: the gay couple behind the Atlanta stage phenomenon Peachtree Battle cast a satiric eye in every direction.

It doesn't take much to stoke the imaginations of John Gibson cud Anthony Morris. Indeed, it was an off hand comment from a real estate agent that led them to create one of Atlanta's biggest artistic successes. During a tour of the tony neighborhood of Peachtree Battle several years ago, the agent drew distinctions between "old money" and "new money" based on street addresses. "We just thought that was hilarious," Morris recalls.

Already known as local playwrights, the partners of 10 years felt inspired to concoct a comedy of manners. The zany result, Peachtree Battle, is now Atlanta's longest-framing show, having celebrated its third anniversary in September. Gibson and Morris continually tweak the script with content references, and as long as audiences keep returning, the pair intend to keep it running in the 140-seat Ausley Park Playhouse, which they own along with another Atlanta venue, the Peachtree Playhouse.

In Battle, a beleaguered white socialite invites 700 of her closest friends to an engagement party fur her favorite son and his African-American fiancee, a Hooters girl. The party provides a great excuse to invite real-life celebrities to play themselves in walk-on parts--recent cameos included a local news anchor, a former Atlanta Falcons coach, and a former governor. But the main conflict of the plot, Morris explains, "is between the domineering mother and her gay son, whom she never accepted. He was with a man for eight years who died in a car wreck, and she showed no remorse."

"And it's a comedy," adds Gibson. "It's hi-lar-ious!"

Before he began writing full-time, Gibson, 39, was a TV actor in Los Angeles. He moved to Atlanta, where he was working for two AIDS organizations when he literally spied Morris across a crowded room. He told a mutual friend, "He's the man I want to date."

Outside the theater, Morris, 42, is an attorney whose wide spectrum of clients includes GOP names like Bob Barr, Dennis Hastert, and Newt Gingrich as well as Georgia Democratic senator Zell Miller--who gave the keynote speech at the Republican convention.

"That's the thing about the South: We don't just put our crazy people in the living room," cracks Gibson. "We elect them to office."

Politics aside, cycle, body acts equally crazy in Peachtree Battle. Gibson says, "We like to put all sides up there."

Behrens contributes regularly to the Chicago Tribune.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:John Gibson, Anthonty Morris
Author:Behrens, Web
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 26, 2004
Previous Article:Knot gonna take it.
Next Article:Sistah! The Color Purple returns as a Broadway-bound stage musical.

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