Marlane Meyer's The Mystery of Attraction is the first world-premiere play opening in the 2002 Humana Festival of New American Plays, in the internationally-known fertile soil at Actors Theatre of Louisville in Kentucky.
The darkly comic new play, about two brothers who cling to the dream of love, opens March 6 at the 318-seat, arena-style Bingham Theatre following previews that began March 3. The fest offers six new full-length world premieres in repertory at ATL's three spaces, March 3-April 13.
The siblings in The Mystery of Attraction are "unlucky in love, in work, in life" and "struggle to attain a sense of security," according to production notes. "In the course of strategizing their dilemma it is discovered that many of their perceptual defects stem from their relationships with women" — and one woman in particular. "One can't forget her, the other can't please her." It's billed as a portrait of men at the mercy of the women they both love and fear.
Meyer's work includes Etta Jenks, Kingfish, The Geography of Luck, Moe's Lucky Seven and The Chemistry of Change. She received the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, The Joseph Kesselring Award and the PEN Center Award for Drama.
Of the Humana work, Meyer said in production notes: "I like to write about people who've essentially lost their way and are putting on a brave front, trying to act like they've got it all handled." Richard Corley directs. The cast includes Steve Juergens, David Van Pelt, Claudia Fielding, Robert MacKenzie, Lee Sellars and Laura Masterson.
Designers are Paul Owen (set), Christal Weatherly (costumes), Tony Penna (lighting), Martin R. Desjardins (sound) and Mark Walston (props).
Tickets range $18-$30. ATL is located at 316 W. Main Street in downtown Louisville. For information, call (800) 4-ATL TIX or (502) 584-1205 or visit actorstheatre.org.
The Tony Award-honored not-for-profit ATL is known throughout the world for its commitment to new works in this annual late-winter festival underwritten by the Humana Foundation, the philanthropic arm of health-care provider Humana, Inc.
Also in the 26th Annual Human Festival:
• Anne Bogart, artistic director of the SITI Company whose works are typically rich with ideas, movement and images that ricochet off each other, conceives and directs Score, which "chronicles the ideas and obsessions of one of America's greatest figures — Leonard Bernstein. Adapted from the writings of this distinguished conductor, teacher and extraordinary composer, it looks at the passionate relationship that exists between a man and his music." His writings were adapted by Jocelyn Clark, of Ireland, who has written three adaptations for the SITI Company.
• Timothy Douglas will direct Jerome Hairston's a.m. Sunday, a family drama that begins on a Sunday morning and follows the next five, intense days. The work is a "tale of an interracial couple who reach a painful turning point in their relationship and that of their two young sons, both of whom are arriving at a time in their lives when everything is in question." Hairston is a recent graduate of Columbia University's MFA playwriting program. He is a 2001 playwriting fellow at Manhattan Theatre Club.
• John Rando (The Dinner Party, Urinetown) directs Tina Howe's Rembrandt's Gift, about "sixtysomething actor-turned-hoarder Walter Paradise and his wife, photographer Polly Shaw," who "are about to get evicted form their Soho loft because of Walter's clutter. Suddenly into their lives come Rembrandt, the great 17th century Dutch painter, with whom they spend the day testing the limits of art, love and old age." Howe's plays include Painting Churches, Pride's Crossing, Coastal Disturbances, Museum and more. This play was commissioned by Actors Theatre.
• ATL artistic director Marc Masterson stages Charles L. Mee's Limonade Tous les Jours, a springtime-in Paris play in which "love is in the air for an older man and a younger woman. As the relationship blossoms, both — each recovering from a broken heart — know they shouldn't be together, yet together is exactly where they find themselves." Mee's Big Love (seen at the 24th Humana Fest) and True Love were on New York stages in fall 2001. His other works include The Berlin Circle, bobrauschenbergamerica (25th Humana Festival) and Time to Burn.
• Michael John Garcés directs Adam Rapp's Finer Noble Gases, about "pill-popping Chase and Staples, members of a band once called Lester's Surprise, now remembered simply as Less," who "sit mesmerized in front of their TV — until the television's demise. When they conjure up a plan to steal their neighbor's TV, the events that follow are comedic and disturbingly existential." Rapp's plays have been produced by American Repertory Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, the Bush Theatre in London, Berkeley Rep, Victory Gardens Theatre and the Juilliard School.
— By Kenneth Jones