The second opening of the coming week is John Belluso's A Nervous Smile, starting March 4.
The annual festival, which draws international interest from press and producers, was the lunching paid for such works as The Gin Game, Crimes of the Heart, After Ashley, Keely and Du, Talking With, Omnium Gatherum and many other plays that have gone on to wider resident or commercial futures. This year's fest offers six full-length plays in repertory (on three stages) Feb. 27-April 9.
Hazard County is presented in association with the National New Play Network. It plays ATL's 318-seat Bingham Theatre. Press opening is March 2.
Under the direction of Chris Coleman, the play "explores issues of race and perceptions of the South," according to production notes. "With a unique structure of intermittent monologues from the 1970s television series 'The Dukes of Hazzard,' Moore tells a slyly subversive story that examines cultural stereotypes that pervade the media. Set in the small-town South, the interactions of a young widowed mother and a visiting television producer highlight modern society's struggle to understand the true meaning of certain symbols and the impact they have on daily lives."
Paul Owen is scenic designer. The cast includes Chelsey Rives, Jesse Hooker, Mary Bacon, Elizabeth Meadows Rouse and Sean Dougherty. Moore returns to Actors Theatre having written a monologue for Snapshot: A Dramatic Anthology during the 2002 Humana Festival. A native of Texas, Moore aims to write Southerners as real people, according to ATL. She holds an M.F.A. from Iowa Playwrights' Workshop and is the recipient of two Jerome Fellowships and a McKnight Advancement Grant.
Belluso's A Nervous Smile was commissioned by Actors Theatre and the New York-based Studio Ensemble Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technical Project.
Performances play ATL's Bingham Theatre toward a press opening of March 5.
Directed by David Esbjornson, the newly appointed artistic director of Seattle Repertory Theatre, A Nervous Smile "is the compassionate and ultimately redemptive story of three people looking to escape their daily lives as caregivers for their disabled children," according to production notes. "This difficult decision compels the story through the complex and contemporary issue of 'caregiver burnout.' Belluso's provocative play explores the ethical complications of raising a child who does not fulfill the normal expectations of a parent.
Paul Owen is scenic designer. The cast includes an Sean Haberle, Maureen Mueller, Mhari Sandoval and Dale Soules.
Belluso returns to ATL having written Voice Properties (On A First Date After a Full Year of Februarys), which was a part of the Technology Project during the 2002 Humana Festival.
Belluso (Pyretown) is committed to writing about the disabled experience. His works have been featured at the Mark Taper Forum's Other Voices Project in Los Angeles, the country's largest development program for "theatre professionals with disabilities," where he is now director.
The other four full-length plays included in the festival are The Shaker Chair by Adam Bock (March 8-April 2), Moot the Messenger by Kia Corthron (March 12-April 3), Pure Confidence by Carlyle Brown (March 17-April 9) and Memory House by Kathleen Tolan (March 22-April 3).
The 2005 festival, again underwritten by the Humana Foundation, also offers four 10-minute plays, and Uncle Sam's Satiric Spectacular On Democracy and Other Fictions Featuring Patriotism Acts and Blue Songs From a Red State by Greg Allen, Sheila Callaghan, Bridget Carpenter, Eric Coble, Richard Dresser, Michael Friedman and Hilly Hicks.
The Humana Premiere Pass offers four admissions for $100 for use in any combination to any festival play. For ticket information, call Actors Theatre box office at (502) 584-1205 or visit www.ActorsTheatre.org.