Actors Theatre of Louisville Opens 38th Humana Festival of New American Plays Tonight

Artistic Director Les Waters and Managing Director Jennifer Bielstein are delighted to announce the 38th Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville, running tonight, February 26-April 6, 2014. This year's Festival program will feature (in order of opening):

Partners by Dorothy Fortenberry
directed by Lila Neugebauer

The Christians by Lucas Hnath
directed by Les Waters
commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville

The Grown-Up by Jordan Harrison
directed by Ken Rus Schmoll

brownsville song (b-side for tray) by Kimber Lee
directed by Meredith McDonough

Steel Hammer
directed by Anne Bogart
music and lyrics by Julia Wolfe
original text by Kia Corthron, Will Power, Carl Hancock Rux and ReGina Taylor
recorded music performed by Bang on a Can All-Stars and Trio Mediaeval
performed and created by Siti Company

Remix 38 by Jackie Sibblies Drury, Idris Goodwin, Basil Kreimendahl, Justin Kuritzkes and Amelia Roper
directed by Ian Frank
performed by the 2013-2014 Acting Apprentice Company
commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville

In addition, a bill of three ten-minute plays will also premiere as part of the scheduled lineup. Selected plays and playwrights will be announced in January.

For more information about each of the full-length Humana Festival plays, see below.

"Actors Theatre continues to support the art and necessity of storytelling by providing a space for the playwright to create, innovate and thrive," said Les Waters, Actors Theatre of Louisville's Artistic Director. "I am proud that this year's Festival celebrates stories that represent the breadth and diversity of the American experience, and I am honored to champion these wonderful writers as their plays are fully realized in production for the first time."

Under the artistic leadership of Obie Award-winning director Les Waters, this year's lineup represents the work of sixteen writers and includes two new works commissioned by Actors Theatre, as well as the much-anticipated return of acclaimed director Anne Bogart and Siti Company. Now in its 50th Anniversary Season, Actors Theatre has built an incredible legacy of supporting the long-term vitality of the American theatre. The Theatre has fully produced nearly 450 plays throughout the Humana Festival's 38-year history, and continues to provide a vital launching pad for playwrights and new work-which has a lasting impact on the national and international stage through an impressive track record of numerous subsequent productions.

The plays will premiere in rotating repertory in three theatres located in Actors Theatre's downtown Louisville complex-the 633-seat Pamela Brown Auditorium, 318-seat Bingham Theatre and 159-seat Victor Jory Theatre.

"With the generous support of the Humana Foundation, the Humana Festival has transformed Actors Theatre and the city of Louisville into a premier cultural destination," said Jennifer Bielstein, Actors Theatre's Managing Director. "Last year we attracted visitors from 44 states and 8 countries, in addition to welcoming more than 33,000 attendees-further evidence that strong investment and visionary community support in the future of American theatre are vital to the economic and social prosperity of a city. As we reach an important milestone in Actors Theatre's history, we look forward to welcoming our extended network of artists, colleagues and friends to celebrate our 50th Season with us."

Weekend packages for the 2014 Humana Festival of New American Plays will go on sale on November 12 and single tickets are available starting November 14. For more information about College Days, New Play Getaway and Industry package options, which include networking opportunities, panel discussions and celebrations, please visit HumanaFestival.org.

Actors Theatre celebrates the 38th Humana Festival with its underwriter the Humana Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Humana, Inc. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

Play descriptions and playwright biographies now follow in chronological order of opening:

Partners
by Dorothy Fortenberry
directed by Lila Neugebauer

February 26 - April 6
in the Bingham Theatre

Clare has big plans with her best friend Ezra-starting a food truck, making him marry his boyfriend-until an unexpected windfall forces them to face how they truly feel about money and commitment. A witty, incisive look at two young couples struggling with personal finance, the meaning of marriage, and the deeply human capacity for self-sabotage-as they decipher the ongoing mystery of how to be an adult.

Partners was written at The MacDowell Colony and developed by Page 73 and LiveWire Theatre.

Dorothy Fortenberry's work has been produced and developed by Arena Stage, Center REPertory Company, Geva Theatre Center and Oregon Shakespeare Festival, as well as by Ars Nova, Chalk Repertory Theatre and The Management Theater Company. She is currently working on a commission for Yale Repertory Theatre, inspired by the life and work of Madeleine L'Engle. She lives in Los Angeles, where she writes for the CW television show The 100 and is developing a one-hour drama series with Ry Russo-Young at Bravo. Fortenberry is a winner of the 2011 Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights, a two-time finalist for the O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, and holds an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama.

The Christians
by Lucas Hnath
directed by Les Waters
commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville

March 4 - April 6
in the Pamela Brown Auditorium
part of the Brown-Forman Series

Twenty years ago, Pastor Paul's church was nothing more than a modest storefront. Now he presides over a congregation of thousands, with classrooms for Sunday School, a coffee shop in the lobby, and a baptismal font as big as a swimming pool. Today should be a day of celebration. But Paul is about to preach a sermon that will shake the foundations of his church's belief. A big-little play about faith in America-and the trouble with changing your mind.

The Christians was commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville and was developed through a Creativity Fund at New Dramatists, as well as through a workshop at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Lucas Hnath's plays include Red Speedo (Studio Theatre, Washington, D.C.), A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney (Soho Rep.), nightnight as part of Sleep Rock Thy Brain (2013 Humana Festival), Isaac's Eye(Ensemble Studio Theatre), Death Tax (2012 Humana Festival, Royal Court Theatre), and The Courtship of Anna Nicole Smith (Actors Theatre of Louisville). He has been awarded the 2012 Whitfield Cook Award for Isaac's Eye and a 2013 Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award Citation for Death Tax. Hnath has been a resident playwright at New Dramatists since 2011 and is also a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre. He received both his B.F.A. and M.F.A. from New York University's Department of Dramatic Writing and is a lecturer in NYU's Expository Writing Program.


The Grown-Up
by Jordan Harrison
directed by Ken Rus Schmoll

March 7 - April 6
in the Bingham Theatre

Kai is a ten-year-old boy sitting at his grandfather's feet, listening to a story. Or else he's a young television writer weathering the humiliations of the Hollywood rat race. Or else he's a salty old man in a wheelchair, receiving an award for "not being dead yet." Has Kai run afoul of some powerful magic, or is he just living an ordinary, too-quick human life? A time-bending, sad, funny adventure about how to survive growing up.

The Grown-Up was developed with the support of Clubbed Thumb.

Jordan Harrison's previous Humana Festival productions include Kid-Simple, Act a Lady, Fit for Feet and Maple and Vine, which went on to be produced at Playwrights Horizons in New York and A.C.T. in San Francisco. Harrison's other plays includeDoris to Darlene (Playwrights Horizons), Amazons and their Men (Clubbed Thumb),Finn in the Underworld (Berkeley Repertory), Futura (Portland Center Stage) and a children's musical, The Flea and the Professor (Arden Theatre). His new play Marjorie Prime will premiere in fall 2014 at the Mark Taper Forum. Harrison is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Hodder Fellowship, the Kesselring Prize, the Roe Green Award from Cleveland Play House, the Heideman Award, the Loewe Award for Musical Theater and a NEA/TCG grant. A graduate of the Brown University M.F.A. program, Harrison is an alumnus of New Dramatists.


brownsville song (b-side for tray)
by Kimber Lee
directed by Meredith McDonough

March 14 - April 6
in the Pamela Brown Auditorium
part of the Brown-Forman Series

Tray is only 18 when an act of senseless violence in his Brooklyn neighborhood brings his young life to a halt, leaving his family to grapple with the weight of his absence. In brownsville song time moves in scattered rhythms, pivoting unpredictably between before and after, as Tray's loved ones stumble through loss, find each other, and fight their way toward hope.

brownsville song (b-side for tray) was developed with support from the Lark Play Development Center, the 2013 Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, and the 2013 Bay Area Playwrights Festival (a program of the Playwrights Foundation, Amy L. Mueller, Artistic Director).

Kimber Lee's plays include fight, different words for the same thing, tokyo fish storyand brownsville song (b-side for tray). In 2014, Center Theatre Group will present the world premiere of different words for the same thing in Los Angeles. Lee's work has also been presented by the Lark Play Development Center, Page 73, Hedgebrook, Seven Devils, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, REPRESENT! Playwrights Festival ACT/Seattle, Great Plains Theatre Conference, Southern Rep, and Mo`olelo. Lee's play fight received the 2010 Holland New Voices Award, and she has been a Lark Playwrights' Workshop Fellow, Dramatists Guild Fellow, and a Core Apprentice at The Playwrights' Center. Lee is currently a member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab and the recipient of the 2013 PoNY Fellowship. She holds a M.F.A. from the University of Texas at Austin.


Steel Hammer
directed by Anne Bogart
music and lyrics by Julia Wolfe
original text by Kia Corthron, Will Power, Carl Hancock Rux and ReGina Taylor
recorded music performed by Bang on a Can All-Stars and Trio Mediaeval
performed and created by Siti Company

March 19 - April 6
in the Victor Jory Theatre

The legend of John Henry, deeply rooted in Appalachian folklore surrounding the construction of the American railroad, has existed in many variations and forms-from illustration to tall tale, political polemic to popular song. With music from Bang on a Can's Julia Wolfe, and incorporating text from four remarkable playwrights, Anne Bogart and Siti Company explore the human impulse to tell stories through the rich tales surrounding this American folk hero.

The original musical score of Steel Hammer was commissioned by Bang on a Can with generous support from Maria and Robert A. Skirnick and Carnegie Hall.

Anne Bogart is the Artistic Director of Siti Company, which she founded with Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki in 1992. She is a Professor at Columbia University where she runs the Graduate Directing Program. Works with SITI include A Rite, Café Variations, Trojan Women (After Euripides), American Document, Antigone, Under Construction, Freshwater, Who Do You Think You Are, Radio Macbeth, Hotel Cassiopeia, Death and the Ploughman, La Dispute, Score, bobrauschenbergamerica,Room, War of the Worlds-the Radio Play, Cabin Pressure, Alice's Adventures, Culture of Desire, Bob, Going, Going, Gone, Small Lives/Big Dreams, The Medium, Noel Coward's Hay Fever and Private Lives, August Strindberg's Miss Julie, and Charles Mee's Orestes. She is the author of five books: A Director Prepares; The Viewpoints Book; And Then, You Act; Conversations with Anne and upcoming, What's the Story.

Siti Company is an ensemble-based theatre company whose three ongoing components are the creation of new work, the training of young theatre artists, and a commitment to international collaboration. SITI was founded in 1992 by Anne Bogart and Tadashi Suzuki to redefine and revitalize Contemporary Theatre in the United States through an emphasis on international cultural exchange and collaboration. Originally envisioned as a summer institute in Saratoga Springs, New York, SITI has expanded to encompass a year-round program based in New York City with a summer season in Saratoga. SITI believes that contemporary American theatre must necessarily incorporate artists from around the world and learn from the resulting cross-cultural exchange of dance, music, art and performance experiences.

Kia Corthron's previous Humana Festival productions include Moot the Messenger,Slide Glide the Slippery Slope and The Open Road Anthology. Regionally, her work includes Snapshot Silhouette (Children's Theatre Company), Slide Glide the Slippery Slope (Mark Taper Forum), The Venus de Milo Is Armed (Alabama Shakespeare Festival), Breath, Boom (Huntington Theatre Company, Yale Repertory Theatre),Splash Hatch on the E Going Down (Yale Repertory Theatre, Centerstage, New York Stage and Film), Digging Eleven (Hartford Stage) and Seeking the Genesis (Goodman Theatre). Other production credits include: A Cool Dip in the Barren Saharan Crick(Playwrights Horizons/Play Company/Culture Project), Trickle (Ensemble Studio Theatre), Light Raise the Roof (New York Theatre Workshop), Breath, Boom(Playwrights Horizons), Force Continuum (Atlantic Theater Company) and Seeking the Genesis (Manhattan Theatre Club). Corthron has also has her work produced at the Royal Court and Donmar Warehouse in London. Corthron is the recipient of a McKnight National Residency and the Callaway and Fadiman Awards, as well as a National Endowment for the Arts/TCG Residency. She has also received the Writers Guild and Edgar Allan Poe awards for The Wire. She is an alumnus of New Dramatists and serves on the Dramatists Guild Council.

Will Power's work regionally includes The Seven (La Jolla Playhouse), Flow (Children's Theatre Company, Studio Theatre) and Five Fingers of Funk (Children's Theatre Company). Off-Broadway credits include: Fetch Clay Make Man, The Seven, Flow (New York Theatre Workshop) and The Gathering (PS 122). Power's numerous film and television appearances include: Drylongso (Sundance), Bill Moyers on Faith and Reason, Theatre Talk and The Colbert Report. His awards include a Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical and the TCG Peter Zeisler Memorial Award, and he is a U.S.A Fellow. As a guest of the State Department, Power traveled to South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan. Power is on the faculty at Southern Methodist University and is the Andrew W. Mellon Playwright in Residence at the Dallas Theater Center.

Carl Hancock Rux's work has been presented at McCarter Theatre, Walker Arts Center, Penumbra Theatre and Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center Theater, The Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, 651 Arts and BAM's Next Wave Festival. Rux's work has also been produced at Maison des arts de Créteil; Montclair State College; Hong Kong Arts Festival; Esplanade Theatre of Singapore; Scuola di Danza Mimma Testa in Trastevere and Teatro de natal infantil Raffaelly Beligni. Rux has received an Obie Award, an Alpert Award in the Arts, and a New York Press Club Journalism Award for Entertainment News. He is a New York Foundation for the Arts Gregory Millard Fellow and is the recipient of NYFA Prize and a CINE Golden Eagle Film and Video Award. Published works include: Pagan Operetta (SemioText), Talk (TCG) and Asphalt(Simon & Schuster).

ReGina Taylor's Crowns is one of the country's most-performed musicals. Her plays have premiered at the Goodman Theatre, the Dallas Theater Center, Broadway's Biltmore Theater, Ensemble Studio Theatre, and Signature Theatre Company. As an actress, Taylor was the first Black woman to play William Shakespeare's Juliet in Broadway's Romeo and Juliet. Most recently, she wrote and directed stop. reset. at Signature Theatre, where she is a resident playwright. TV audiences know Taylor as Lilly Harper in I'll Fly Away and Molly Blane in CBS's hit drama The Unit. Taylor is also an Artistic Associate at Goodman Theatre. She has received a Golden Globe Award, a Peabody Award, a NAACP Image Award, and two Emmy nominations.

Julia Wolfe's music draws inspiration from folk, classical, and rock genres, bringing a modern sensibility to each while simultaneously tearing down the walls between them. Wolfe's music is distinguished by an intense physicality and a relentless power that pushes performers to extremes and demands attention from the audience. In the words of The Wall Street Journal, Wolfe has "long inhabited a terrain of [her] own, a place where classical forms are recharged by the repetitive patterns of minimalism and the driving energy of rock." Her music has been heard in venues worldwide including BAM, the Sydney Olympic Arts Festival, Theatre de la Ville, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, and has been recorded on Cantaloupe, Teldec, Point/Universal, Sony Classical, and Argo/Decca.

Remix 38
by Jackie Sibblies Drury, Idris Goodwin, Basil Kreimendahl, Justin Kuritzkes, and Amelia Roper
directed by Ian Frank
performed by the 2013-2014 Acting Apprentice Company
commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville

March 21 - April 6
in the Bingham Theatre

In honor of Actors Theatre's 50th Anniversary Season, we've commissioned five adventurous writers to craft a fresh and diverse evening of short pieces, inspired by iconic plays from throughout the Humana Festival's 38-year history. Created for the Acting Apprentice Company, this playful experiment pays homage to the groundbreaking work of Festivals past, while celebrating singular voices blazing new trails of their own.

Remix 38 was commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville. This show is the culmination of the Laboratory Series-a season comprised entirely of new work developed with the Apprentice/Intern Company.

Jackie Sibblies Drury's play We Are Proud to Present a Presentation... received its world premiere at Victory Gardens Theater, and had its New York premiere at Soho Rep. Other productions of the play include: The Matrix Theatre Company, InterAct Theatre, Undermain Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Company One and Arts Emerson, Available Light, and the Bush Theatre. Drury's play Social Creatures was commissioned by Trinity Repertory Company, premiering in March 2013. Her work has been developed at The Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, Berkeley Repertory Theatre's Ground Floor, New York Theatre Workshop, The Lark Play Development Center, Prelude.11, The Bay Area Playwrights Festival, The IGNITION Festival, Soho Rep's Writer/Director Lab, and The Civilians' R&D Group. Drury is a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect. She was a Van Lier Fellow at New Dramatists, and is the inaugural recipient of the 2012-2014 Jerome New York Fellowship at The Lark.

Basil Kreimendahl's play Sidewinders had its world premiere at Cutting Ball Theater in October 2013, and Orange Julius was developed at the 2012 O'Neill National Playwrights Conference. Kreimendahl's plays have also been developed by New York Theatre Workshop, La Jolla Playhouse, About Face Theatre, The Lark Play Development Center, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Kreimendahl is currently a Jerome Fellow at The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis, a Visiting Writer at the University of Iowa, and a past recipient of an Art Meets Activism grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women for theatre work with the transgender community in Louisville. Kreimendahl's work has been published by Dramatic Publishing and awarded a National Science Award from KCACTF. Sidewinders won the 2013 Rella Lossy Playwright Award. Kreimendahl holds a M.F.A. from the University of Iowa.

Idris Goodwin is a playwright, spoken word performer and essayist. His play How We Got On, developed at the O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, premiered at Actors Theatre of Louisville's 2012 Humana Festival and is being produced in theatres across the country. Goodwin is currently developing new stage works with Denver Center Theatre Company and StageOne Family Theatre. This is Modern Art (co-written with Kevin Coval for Steppenwolf Theatre Company) was selected for the 2014 New Visions/New Voices program at The Kennedy Center. Goodwin is a Core Writer with The Playwrights' Center and has enjoyed writing residencies with Berkeley Repertory Theatre and The New Harmony Project. These Are The Breaks (Write Bloody, 2011), his debut collection of essays and poetry, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He's performed on HBO, The Discovery Channel, Sesame Street and National Public Radio. Goodwin teaches performance writing and Hip Hop aesthetics at Colorado College.

Justin Kuritzkes is a Brooklyn-based writer whose plays have been produced and developed at venues including New York Theatre Workshop, the Brecht Forum, Colt Coeur, Dixon Place, and the New York International Fringe Festival. He has been awarded residencies from the MacDowell Colony, the Edward F. Albee Foundation, and SPACE on Ryder Farm, where he is a member of the inaugural Working Farm writers' group. Kuritzkes has won the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival One-Act Play Contest, and his play An Autobiography About My Brother was published in the University of New Orleans' Bayou Magazine. He is a 2012 graduate oF Brown University and a native of Los Angeles.

Amelia Roper is currently writing for Yale Repertory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Soho Rep.'s Writer/ Director Lab and The Rose. She has been produced in Australia by the Melbourne Arts Centre, St Martins Youth Arts Centre, and Forty Forty Home. Roper's work has been developed by the Melbourne Theatre Company, Old Vic Theatre in London, Berkeley Repertory Theatre's Ground Floor, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, American Theater Company in Chicago, the National New Play Network at the Kennedy Center, and the Moscow Playwright and Director Center in Russia. She is a MacDowell Fellow and a recent graduate of the Yale School of Drama.

Actors Theatre's Apprentice/Intern Company
Now in its 42nd year and currently under the direction of Michael Legg, Actors Theatre's Apprentice/Intern Company is one of the nation's oldest continuing pre-professional resident training companies. Acting Apprentices and Professional Interns undertake a nine-month program that provides practical training and real-world experience, designed to help young theatre artists and administrators in transition from undergraduate study to a professional career in theatre.


The Ten-Minute Plays
April 5 & 6
in the Pamela Brown Auditorium

A bill of three ten-minute plays to be announced in January.




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