The new works are presented in ATL's three spaces, although Naomi Iizuka's At the Vanishing Point will be staged in an industrial warehouse in Butchertown, a preservation neighborhood on the edge of downtown Louisville.
Plays and playwrights of the 28th annual Humana Festival of New American Plays were announced by ATL artistic director Marc Masterson Dec. 9. This year's slate includes six full length works and a variety of shorter pieces, representing a wide array of voices.
Full-length plays and playwrights are After Ashley by Gina Gionfriddo (Providence, RI), Sans Culottes in the Promised Land by Kirsten Greenidge (Somerville, MA), The Ruby Sunrise by Rinne Groff (New York City), Kid-Simple by Jordan Harrison (Minneapolis), At the Vanishing Point by Naomi Iizuka (Los Angeles) and Tallgrass Gothic by Melanie Marnich (Minneapolis).
Descriptions of the festival's full-length plays, along with biographies of their authors, are as follows:
After Ashley by Gina Gionfriddo, directed by Timothy Douglas. "Three years after his mother's murder, 17-year-old Justin can barely function. His father, on the other hand, has written a best-selling book about the crime and scored his own cable television talk show. America may be ready for a mega-marketing blitz of Justin's murdered mom, but he isn't. A satire that takes on our media's obsession with victims and violence in a penetrating fashion." After Ashley was originally commissioned by Philadelphia Theatre Company and was supported by a residency and public staged readings at the 2003 O'Neill Playwrights Conference of the Euguene O'Neill Theatre Center.
Gina Gionfriddo has received the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights. In addition to After Ashley, her work includes Safe (Humana Festival Anthology, 2003), U.S. Drag (Connecticut Repertory Company, Clubbed Thumb, NY, published in "Women Playwrights: The Best Plays of 2002") and Guinevere (O'Neill Playwrights Conference).
Sans Culottes in the Promised Land by Kirsten Greenidge,directed by Randy White. "A lawyer about to make partner keeps bumping her head; her architect husband can't close a deal or keep his hands off the help; their young daughter is desperate for attention and the nanny has a secret. In this fantastical satire about the road to success, Greenidge maps the false promise of education and the reality of the glass ceiling in America, especially within this upper middle-class, African American family." Kirsten Greenidge is currently Writer-in-Residence with P.73 Productions. Her plays have appeared at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Madison Repertory, Cherry Lane, Playwrights Horizons, the Taper, Hourglass, Sundance Retreat/UCross, A.S.K. and the O'Neill. She has been commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville and South Coast Repertory, respectively. Other work includes Familiar, The Gibson Girl and Rust.
The Ruby Sunrise by Rinne Groff, directed by Oskar Eustis. "This comedy tells the story of an industrious teenage runaway with a knack for dismantling and reassembling every electronic device she can get her hands on. Determined to realize her dream of inventing something like no one's ever seen — television — Ruby is convinced that her vision will change the way people look at the world. Starting on an Indiana farm in 1927 and jumping to a McCarthy-era New York TV studio, The Ruby Sunrise charts the course of a phenomenon — from early idealism to anti communist censorship and commercial compromises." Rinne Groff is a playwright, performer, professor and founding member of Elevator Repair Service Theater Company. Her plays include Orange Lemon Egg Canary (a Humana Festival premiere), Jimmy Carter was a Democrat, Inky and The Five Hysterical Girls Theorem. Groff is a member of the Dramatists Guild, a Usual Suspect at NYTW and an artistic associate of Target Margin Theater. She is a graduate of Yale (1991) and NYU (1999).
Kid-Simple, a Radio Play in the Flesh by Jordan Harrison, directed by Darron West. "Moll, a girl who invents things, creates The Third Ear, a miraculous machine for hearing sounds that can't be heard. But a master of disguises, The Mercenary, steals the machine (and Moll's heart) at the bidding of two dark-dwellers. Will the crafty Moll and her reluctant guide, the boy virgin Oliver, be able to raft the river, cross the chasm and mount the mountain in time to reclaim the device? Will the Third Ear destroy noise and narrative as we know it?" Jordan Harrison's plays have been developed at Playwrights Horizons, Perishable Theatre, Clubbed Thumb and the Empty Space Theatre. His 10-minute play, Fit for Feet, was produced in last year's Humana Festival. He is the recipient of a Jerome Fellowship and a commission from Children's Theatre Company and Guthrie Theater. Harrison has an MFA from Brown University.
At the Vanishing Point by Naomi Iizuka, directed by Les Waters. "In this portrait of a community, Iizuka weaves together historical fact, myth and memory to give voice to people who would otherwise exist only as faded images in an old photo album. Developed through extensive interviews and archival research, At the Vanishing Point conjures the rich history of Butchertown, a storied neighborhood minutes from downtown Louisville, once home to the stockyards and meatpacking plants that used to thrive on the banks of Beargrass Creek. How do we remember a part of our history at the moment that it's slipping away? How do we give voice to the ghosts that haunt us as individuals and as a community? Bringing together the stories of residents past and present, this unique theatrical event will be performed site-specifically in an industrial warehouse in the heart of Butchertown located at 151 Cabel St." At the Vanishing Point was developed at Actors Theatre with support from the NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights and the Seagram/Universal Residency Award. The development and production were made possible by a generous gift from Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson.
Naomi Iizuka's other plays include 36 Views, Language of Angels, Polaroid Stories, Tattoo Girl and Skin. Her plays have been produced at Actors Theatre, the Public, Berkeley Rep, Geva, Campo Santo, Dallas Theatre Center and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. lizuka has received a Whiting Award and a PEN Center/USA West Award for Drama.
Tallgrass Gothic by Melanie Marnich, directed by Marc Masterson. "Set amid the stark beauty of the Great Plains, this tale of love and its consequences reveals the dark side of small town America, exposing a claustrophobic and unforgiving landscape of secret longings, silent hatred and unleashed fury that festers beneath the deceptive calm of the heartland." Melanie Marnich is the author of Blur, Quake, Beautiful Again and The Sparrow Project. Her work has been seen at theaters including Manhattan Theatre Club, Royal Court Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Guthrie Theater and Dallas Theatre Center. She's the recipient of two Jerome Fellowships, a McKnight Advancement Grant and two Samuel Goldwyn awards.
The 2003 fest also includes the unique collaboration knows as the "Anthology Project. " This season's project is Fast and Loose, an ethical collaboration, by José Cruz González, Kirsten Greenidge, Julie Marie Myatt and John Walch, directed by Wendy McClellan.
"Should you share a secret if it might hurt the one you tell? What's more important, the end or the means? How do you behave when another's standards are not your own? And is there any compelling reason to think about the interests of others at all? In this dramatic anthology, four playwrights work alongside each other and in conversation to attack classic dilemmas of right and wrong from every angle-through stories both personal and communal, from inside our homes to our ethically challenged world and beyond."
All but one of the festival plays will be presented in rotating repertory in Actors Theatre's 637-seat Pamela Brown Auditorium, the 318-seat Bingham Theatre and the 159 seat Victor Jory Theatre.
For information or reservations call (502) 584-1205 or (800) 4-ATL-TIX, or visit Actors Theatre's website at www.actorstheatre.org.
For the 25th consecutive year, the festival is underwritten by The Humana Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Humana Inc.