All Beaches Experimental Theatre, also known as ABET, is a not-for-profit theatre located in the Jacksonville, Florida area. ABET is registered with the State of Florida as a tax-exempt charitable organization and is committed to bringing the excitement of live theatre to diverse audiences through an emphasis on new and original plays, neglected classics, and developing new talent.
ABET strives for diversity in all aspects of their productions, with many roles being race and gender-neutral. The theatre invites everyone to get involved by volunteering, buying a subscription, making a donation, auditioning for a play, or taking a drama workshop for adults or children.
ABET’s reputation for high-quality productions began with its founding by Carson Merry Baillie and three of her drama workshop graduates in 1992 as Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre. Baillie skillfully guided the theatre’s growth during the first 13 years, establishing a reputation for producing original scripts, challenging plays, and high-quality musicals.
Barbara Evans served as Managing Artistic Director for the next two years, continuing the theatre’s fine tradition. Celia Frank took over as Managing Artistic Director in 2007 and retired on June 1, 2021. Lee Hamby assumed the role of Managing Artistic Director in August 2021 and arranged for ABET to utilize The Foundation Academy theatre facility for the 2021/2022 season.
ABET has received generous grants and support from various organizations, including the City of Jacksonville, Community Foundation in Jacksonville, Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, Tom and Jean Nehl Fund of The Community Foundation in Jacksonville, and The Robin Shepherd Group, among others.
In the spring of 2018, ABET moved from Atlantic Beach to Neptune Beach and changed its full name to All Beaches Experimental Theatre. However, in June 2021, ABET lost its home in Neptune Beach due to the renovation of the shopping center. Nonetheless, ABET continues to thrive and provide high-quality theatre to diverse audiences in the Jacksonville area.