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Flap Tucker

Fever Devilin

Christopher Marlowe

Foggy Moscowitz





by Therra Jarmillo Gwynn


FOR A CHARACTER in one of Phillip DePoy's mystery novels, "finishing a sentence" means serving jail time. For the Atlanta author and playwright, it's something in his daily writing session that he may choose not to do. On occasion, DePoy will deliberately stop work in the middle of a sentence, a delicious way to foster anticipation for his next day's journey into the play or novel he's writing.



Phillip DePoy is an actor, playwright, director, musician, composer, novelist and educator."My writing schedule is the same as it's been since I was 15 in 1965," he says. "I write every morning as soon as I wake up and have coffee. Every day, sick or well, busy or sane, married or single."


"You'd think I'd be a lot better at it by now," he says, joking.


DePoy, at 71, has a genial, self-effacing exterior that houses a prolific and disciplined scribe. He calls his almost 50-year career in the arts a "sampler plate" — actor, playwright, director, musician, composer, novelist and educator.


As Theatrical Outfit's artistic director in the 1990s, he turned the Atlanta theater into one that made music. He led Clayton State University's theater department for eight years, was a Georgia Council for the Arts writer-in-residence for a time, and has written 20 novels and 43 plays.


Writing is DePoy's way to process the world around him. By the time he'd reached his teens, he'd already had experiences that would incubate in his brain and influence his work for decades.

In the mid-1960s, Phillip joined the Actors and Writers Workshop, an early seed in Atlanta's theater scene. It was run by Walter and Betty Lou Roberts, the parents of film actors Eric and Julia Roberts. Coretta Scott King was a sponsor and the King children were members.


DePoy is a multi-instrumentalist who can "make a noise" (his words) on almost 30 instruments, most of them stringed.


Some fast facts: DePoy doesn't own a cellphone. In his rare spare time he loves to cook for family and friends, garden, delve into the books of longtime favorites Joseph Campbell and Lao Tzu, and surprise himself with how well he can "fix stuff around the house." He once rewired his Decatur home, reasoning, "How hard can it be?" Not that hard, apparently. The house passed inspection. He can do just about anything it seems, except dance.


Strike that. DePoy says he can dance.


"I have been known to do a dance," he admits. "Usually when I'm in my cups." He likes to refer to it as "reckless abandon."


Although DePoy has lived briefly in Paris, New York and Boston, and worked in dozens of other places, he always makes his way back to Atlanta and the arts community. "It's a family here," he says, "Every place else I've been I enjoyed doing the work, but I missed the family."