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How We Got Here

Founded in 2015, Marietta’s 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 1980s and ’90s. In the early 2000s, however, the theater fell into a funding crisis, and it closed its doors in 2012. This loss was a major blow to the community until Raul 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, as 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 MTS as an artistic home for all Cobb county and greater Atlanta residents. This meant that the stories told in the Emil Theatre 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 Emil 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 MTS have been affected by the warmth of the Thomases’ 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 a massive collection through MTS 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, MTS 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. MITS 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 whom 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 performing arts and the capacity of those arts to create real positive change. In short, MTS 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. 

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