Actors Theatre of Louisville Commissions SLEEP ROCK THY BRAIN, to Premiere at 37th Annual Humana Festival, March 2013

Artistic Director Les Waters and Managing Director Jennifer Bielstein have announced the commission of Sleep Rock Thy Brain, a suite of three one-act plays by Rinne Groff, Lucas Hnath and Anne Washburn that will utilize aerial performance to explore the brain science of sleep. The project, conceived by Actors Artistic staff members Amy Attaway and Sarah Lunnie, is being developed in partnership with University of Louisville, the University of Louisville Department of Theatre Arts, University of Louisville School of Medicine, ZFX Flying Effects, and Jefferson County Public Schools. Sleep Rock Thy Brain will premiere during the 37th annual Humana Festival of New American Plays in March 2013. The premiere production will be directed by Amy Attaway and will feature Actors Theatre’s 22-member Acting Apprentice Company. It will play in the Owsley Brown II Black Box Theatre at Lincoln Performing Arts School.

Though sleep takes up fully one third of our lives, its purpose has long been shrouded in mystery. Why do we sleep? What’s it for? What’s happening inside our brains when we dream, and how should we understand our nightmares? Researchers are only now beginning to unlock the secrets behind one of life’s most universal experiences, and with Sleep Rock Thy Brain,playwrights Groff, Hnath and Washburn will harness the rich movement vocabulary of flight to explore the mysteries and complexities of the sleeping brain.

Actors Theatre’s Artistic Director Les Waters said,“It is a unique occasion to collaborate with these organizations, and their enthusiasm, along with the collective imagining of three renowned playwrights will result in the staging of two vital productions in the spring of 2013."

Dr. James R. Ramsey, University of Louisville said, “This is a great opportunity for UofL students to learn and collaborate with wonderful partners. It’s inspiring to see this kind of community engagement and partnership surrounding the arts.”

Terri Kirsch, C.E.O., ZFX Flying Effects said,"We couldn’t be happier working with this team of artists and professionals. This project not only bodes well with what we do on a daily basis but allows our flying team the opportunity to spread their artistic wings. We have considered Actors Theatre of Louisville a theatrical community ally for many years collaborating together on productions, workshops and training sessions. It has really been exciting watchingSleep Rock Thy Braindevelop over the months. I can’t wait to see the final product. To my knowledge, nothing like this has ever been done.”

Mr. Mike Ice, Assistant Principal, Lincoln Performing Arts School said, “On behalf of the students, staff and community, we are honored to represent Lincoln Performing Arts School and Jefferson County Public Schools as partners in this exciting and unique experience. Our state of the arts facility will provide the backdrop for this nationally recognized event. The Owsley Brown II theater proves to be a showcase for not only our school system but our entire city."

The play’s aerial effects are being developed by ZFX Flying Effects, an industry leader in the field of theatrical flying. Senior Flying Director Brian Owens will work in close collaboration with the playwrights to create original choreography, and the Acting Apprentices will train in aerial performance at ZFX throughout the season to prepare for the production. University of Louisville School of Medicine and the University Sleep Center also made a vital contribution to the development of the play by offering the playwrights research support and access to sleep lab staff and facilities.

Following its Humana Festival premiere, Sleep Rock Thy Brain will receive a second production in the University of Louisville Department of Theatre Arts’ Studio Theatre season. This production will feature students in the Department of Theatre Arts and will be directed by Department Chair Dr. Rinda Frye.

Thanks to a partnership with Jefferson County Public Schools, both productions of Sleep Rock Thy Brain will appear at the Owsley Brown II Theatre at Lincoln Performing Arts School, located on Main Street about a mile east of Actors Theatre’s downtown complex. Lincoln’s status as a groundbreaking performing arts magnet for elementary school students make it an ideal partner in this innovative project, and Sleep Rock Thy Brain will introduce Lincoln’s brand-new performing arts facilities to the community.

As a complement to the play, Actors Theatre of Louisville and the University of Louisville are collaborating to offer cultural programming that will encourage community-wide involvement in this exciting project. Actors Theatre’s Education staff will teach a playwriting residency for students at Lincoln Elementary School, who will also benefit though exposure to the play development process throughout the school year. University of Louisville will curate an interdisciplinary series of on-campus and community events exploring sleep, and the intersection of art and science. Programming is still being developed, but could include panel discussions, talks by visiting artists and experts in the field of sleep science, a community art event, and more.

Playwright Rinne Groff At Actors Theatre of Louisville:The Ruby Sunrise,Orange Lemon Egg Canary. Other plays and musicals include Compulsion,Saved,In the Bubble,What Then,Inky,Jimmy Carter was a Democrat,The Five Hysterical Girls Theorem; and have been produced by Yale Repertory, Playwrights Horizons, The Public Theater, Trinity Repertory, Women’s Project, PS122, Clubbed Thumb, Target Margin, and Andy's Summer Playhouse, among others. Rinne is a recipient of the Whiting Writers Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an Obie Award grant. She is a founding member of Elevator Repair Service Theater Company, New Dramatists alum, and a member of the Dramatists Guild.

Playwright Lucas Hnath’s plays include Death Tax (2012 Humana Festival),The Courtship of Anna Nicole Smith (Actors Theatre of Louisville/The Tens),Isaac's Eye (Ensemble Studio Theatre), and Odile's Ordeal (University of Miami). Hnath has enjoyed residencies with The Royal Court Theatre and 24Seven Lab and is currently a resident playwright at New Dramatists. He is a two-time winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant for screenwriting and a recipient of an EST/Sloan Project commission. He is also working on a new play commission for Actors Theatre of Louisville. Hnath holds an M.F.A. from New York University’s Department of Dramatic Writing and is a lecturer in NYU’s Expository Writing Program.

Anne Washburn’s plays include A Devil At Noon (Actors Theatre of Louisville, Humana Festival),Mr. Burns (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington D.C.), Communist Dracula Pageant (American Repertory Theater, Cambridge, MA), a transadaptation of Euripides’Orestes (Folger Theatre, Washington D.C.),The Internationalist(13P; Vineyard Theater, New York; Studio Theater, Washington D.C.),Apparition (Connelly Theater, New York),The Small and I Have Loved Strangers (Clubbed Thumb, New York), and The Ladies (Dixon Place, Cherry Lane Theatre, The Civilians, New York). Awards include a Guggenheim, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, a Time Warner Fellowship, Susan Smith Blackburn prize finalist, and residencies at MacDowell and Yaddo. She is an associated artist with The Civilians, New Georges, Machiqq, and an alumna of New Dramatists, and is currently commissioned by Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwrights Horizons, Soho Repertory and Yale Repertory.

Amy Attaway (Director/Co-conceiver) is in her fifth season as Associate Director of the Apprentice/Intern Company at Actors Theatre. Directing credits at Actors include Oh, Gastronomy! in the 2012 Humana Festival, The End in the 2011 Festival, and 3:59am: a drag race for two actors in the 2009 Festival. Amy is a founder and Co-Artistic Director of Theatre [502], where her recent credits include Futura and Broadsword: a heavy metal play. As an actor, Amy has worked with the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Stage One, and Crossroads Repertory Theatre. She is a proud member of Actors Equity and the League of Professional Theatre Women.

Sarah Lunnie (Dramaturg/Co-conceiver) is the literary manager at Actors Theatre of Louisville, where she is involved in the reading and selection processes for the Humana Festival and the National Ten-Minute Play Contest. She has served as dramaturg on new plays by Lucas Hnath, Charles L. Mee and Marco Ramirez, among others, and on many productions in the theatre’s Mainstage and Apprentice/Intern Company seasons. She is the co-editor ofHumana Festival 2011: The Complete Playsand several volumes of New Voices Festival anthologies.Sarah collaborated with The Mad Ones on the creation of Samuel & Alasdair: A Personal History of the Robot War (New Ohio Theatre; The Brick; Ars Nova). She is an affiliated artist with The Mad Ones and a founding member of the Telephonic Literary Union.

Dr. Rinda Frye, chair of the Department of Theatre Arts in the University of Louisville College of Arts and Sciences, will direct the UofL production of Sleep Rock Thy Brain. Named Distinguished Faculty in Arts and Sciences for her artistic and professional work, Frye teaches acting and stage voice. Her publications include scholarly articles and a book, “William Poel’s Hamlets: The Director as Critic.” A member of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association Inc, she frequently coaches stage dialects at Actors Theatre of Louisville. She recently directed As You Like It and Measure for Measure at UofL and played Titus in Titus Andronicus. She co-founded the Utah Shakespeare Players in Salt Lake City and holds a PhD from the University of Oregon.

Now in its 49th season, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the State Theatre of Kentucky, has emerged as one of America's most consistently innovative professional theatre companies. For almost 40 years, it has been a major force in revitalizing American playwriting. Its annual Humana Festival of New American Plays is recognized as the premier event of its kind and draws producers, journalists, critics, playwrights and theatre lovers from around the world for a marathon of new works. More than 350 plays from Actors Theatre have been published, making them available to producers and readers, and creating a significant addition to the nation’s dramatic literature. Actors Theatre’s programming includes a broad range of classical and contemporary work, presenting more than 500 performances each season. The company performs annually to nearly 200,000 people and is the recipient of the most prestigious awards bestowed on a regional theatre: a special Tony Award for Distinguished Achievement, the James N. Vaughan Memorial Award for Exceptional Achievement and Contribution to the Development of Professional Theatre, and the Margo Jones Award for the Encouragement of New Plays. Actors Theatre's international appearances include performances in 29 cities in 15 foreign countries. Currently, there are 40 books of plays and criticism from Actors Theatre in publication and circulation. For more, visit

Lincoln Elementary is the first JCPS elementary performing arts concept school of its kind in the state of Kentucky. Lincoln emphasizes a strong academic program in reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies. Each of the core academic areas is integrated with drama, music, and dance. The curriculum will ensure that students experience the entire performing arts process, from designing a stage set to performing a student-written piece of music or dance. Community partnerships with leading arts groups provide experiences and instruction that your child can’t get anywhere else. The result is a rich, engaging, and powerful instructional program that provides a teaching and learning environment unlike any other. For more info, go to

The University of Louisville (UofL) is Kentucky's metropolitan research university. Located in The Commonwealth's largest city, UofL is composed of 11 colleges and schools on three campuses. Most of the university's 22,000 students attend classes and live on or near the Belknap Campus, a park-like setting near historic Old Louisville that is home to seven colleges and schools, including most undergraduate programs. Bordered by its many medical partners, UofL's downtown Health Sciences Center is home to more than 3,000 students pursuing degrees in health-related fields with the Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Public Health and Information Sciences, as well as 17 interdisciplinary centers and institutes.

Dating back to the founding of the University Dramatic Club in 1923, the Department of Theatre Arts is committed to the development of its students as human beings and to nurturing their apprenticeship as theatre artists. The department offers the only Master of Fines Arts in performance in Kentucky. Currently, 75 students from all over the country are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate study.

Students are trained in the fine art of theatre, voice, movement, scene study, and design and also teach the historical and literary context of the theatre as a humanist and liberal art. All students are exposed to the diversity of multicultural theatre.

The department fosters creativity, collaboration, discipline and artistic growth in its students. It embraces the theatre as a means of creative expression, cultural understanding, social development and historical perspective. This knowledge includes the ability to understand the theatre arts, to appreciate them and to create works of art that enhance the human condition.

ZFX is a complete provider of flying effects for everything from Broadway to the event industry, collaborating with clients to create safe and awe-inspiring flying effects for audiences around the globe. Famed for their creativity, ZFX is also a technical powerhouse, designing and manufacturing all equipment, harnesses and software in-house. Their user-friendly rigging and technical solutions, combined with exceptional artistic insight, provide an unparalleled service which sets the industry standard. For more information, visit

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