Sirens, a quirky romantic comedy by Deborah Zoe Laufer, has its first preview on Feb. 21, launching the 34th annual festival, which will offer five full-length works on three stages at ATL in downtown Louisville, KY. Sirens opens Feb. 24 and continues in rep to March 28.
The influential festival has launched a number of new plays that have gone on to wider, award-winning life, including The Gin Game, Keely and Du, Dinner With Friends, Crimes of the Heart, Omnium Gatherum and more. Since its founding, the festival has introduced more than 400 plays to the world. The festival is underwritten by the Humana Foundation.
The additional five full-length plays in the Humana Festival are Fissures (lost and found) by Steve Epp, Cory Hinkle, Dominic Orlando, Dominique Serrand, Deborah Stein and Victoria Stewart (Feb. 26-March 28), Ground by Lisa Dillman (March 2-28), Phoenix by Scott Organ (March 5-27), The Method Gun by Kirk Lynn (March 16-28), and The Cherry Sisters Revisited by Dan O'Brien (March 18-April 11).
Sirens follows Sam and Rose, a middle-aged couple who take a 25th anniversary cruise to Greece in hopes of finding their relationship's old spark again. According to Actors Theatre notes, "Enchanting music, memories of passionate youth, and Facebook Scrabble conspire against [the] drifting empty-nesters." Sirens is directed by Casey Stengl and features Brian Russell (The Farnsworth Invention, The Caine-Mutiny Court-Martial) as Sam and Mimi Lieber (Distracted, Brooklyn Boy) as Rose, with Lindsey Wochley (The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's The Little Foxes) and Ben Hollandsworth (From Up Here).
The creative team includes set designer Michael Raiford, costume designer Sonya Berlovitz, lighting designer Jeff Nellis, sound designer Matt Callahan, properties designer Mark Walston and hair and make-up designer Heather Fleming.
Laufer was a collaborator on Brink! at the 2008 Humana Festival. A 2009 recipient of the Helen Merrill Playwriting Award, her other credits include End Days, The Last Schwartz, The Gulf of Westchester and Out of Sterno.
Actors Theatre of Louisville is run by artistic director Marc Masterson and managing director Jennifer Bielstein.
Actors Theatre is located at 316 W. Main St., Louisville. For tickets, call (502) 584-1265 or visit actorstheatre.org.
Here's a breakdown of the 2010 Humana Festival plays and authors:
Sirens by Deborah Zoe Laufer
Directed by Casey Stangl
Feb. 21-March 28
"Enchanting music, memories of passionate youth, and Facebook Scrabble conspire against drifting empty-nesters Sam and Rose in this captivating comedy. Will a 25th anniversary cruise to the magical and mythical Greek Isles rekindle their relationship? Rose hopes so, but Sam has other ideas."
Laufer is the author of End Days, which was awarded the America Theatre Critics Association Steinberg Citation in March 2008. Her plays include The Last Schwartz and The Gulf of Westchester.
Fissures (lost and found) by Steve Epp, Cory Hinkle, Dominic Orlando, Dominique Serrand, Deborah Stein and Victoria Stewart
Directed by Dominique Serrand
Commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville and The Playwrights' Center
Feb. 26-March 28
"Why is it that each time you remember the past, you forget and invent a little more of it? How does a place or a song conjure an experience that you didn't even know you had lost? Artists from the acclaimed groups Theatre de la Jeune Lune and the Workhaus Collective have teamed up to roam through the fanciful, mysterious territories between recollection and imagination, loss and rediscovery, creating a piece that playfully embodies the ever-shifting landscape of memory."
Ground by Lisa Dillman
Directed by Marc Masterson
Pamela Brown Auditorium
"When Zelda inherits her father's pecan farm, she discovers that the world at the border between the United States and Mexico has changed. As she faces hard choices about keeping or letting go of the farm, Zelda's beliefs about family, home, community and civil rights are tested in the face of a shifting political and social landscape."
Dillman makes her Humana Festival debut. Selected Chicago credits include Detail of a Larger Work at Steppenwolf Theatre Company; Flung and Half of Plenty at American Theater Company; and The Walls at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble.
Phoenix by Scott Organ
Directed by Aaron Posner
"An out-of-character one-night stand spills into seven weeks, 4,000 miles and six cups of coffee as two strangers question the calculated lives they lead and contemplate the uncertain world that might be. A sly comedy about how getting off course can put you on the right track."
Scott Organ makes his Actors Theatre debut here. He's the author of the full-length plays The Faithful, Fixed and The Remainder.
The Method Gun created by Rude Mechs
Written by Kirk Lynn
Directed by Shawn Sides
Victor Jory Theatre
"The Method Gun explores the life and techniques of Stella Burden, actor-training guru of the '60s and '70s, whose sudden emigration to South America still haunts her most fervent followers. Ms. Burden's training technique, The Approach (often referred to as 'the most dangerous acting technique in the world'), fused Western acting methods with risk-based rituals in order to give even the smallest role a touch of sex, death and violence. A play about the ecstasy and excesses of performing, the dangers of public intimacy, and the incompatibility of truth on stage and sanity in real life."
Kirk Lynn is a founder and one of six co-producing artistic directors of Rude Mechs. With Rude Mechs, Lynn has written and adapted more than a dozen plays including Lipstick Traces, Requiem for Tesla and I've Never Been So Happy, winner of a National Endowment for the Arts New Play Development Award. Lynn also adapted The Wrestling Patient, a finalist for a NEA New Play Production Award, for 40 Magnolias in Boston.
The Cherry Sisters Revisited by Dan O'Brien
Original music by Michael Friedman
Directed by Andrew Leynse
Part of the Brown-Forman Mainstage Series
March 18-April 11
Pamela Brown Auditorium
"How far can you go with ambition, gumption, a good heart — and no talent? The Cherry Sisters' dreams of Vaudeville took them from their Iowa barn to Broadway, where their inept acrobatics and tone-deaf caterwauling continually sold out, bringing them fame — and a barrage of rotten cabbages. With music by Michael Friedman (This Beautiful City, Gone Missing) and based on a true story, Dan O'Brien's thought-provoking comedy takes a look at the insatiable urge to perform, and the audience's inability to look away."
Dan O'Brien's most recent production was The House in Hydesville at Geva Theatre Center. His plays include Moving Picture, Key West, Lamarck, The Dear Boy, The Voyage of the Carcass and more.
Heist! conceived and created by Sean Daniels and Deborah Stein
Written by Deborah Stein
Directed by Sean Daniels
Animation by Adam Pinney and Rene Dellefont
Performances at 21c Museum Hotel, 700 West Main Street
"A priceless masterpiece by a reclusive genius is set to be unveiled at 21c Museum, North America's one-of-a-kind venue for 21st century art...and you're invited! But the opening night party is about to be turned upside-down, thanks to a wily team of infamous art thieves. As you move through the galleries in and around 21c, you'll meet penguin-obsessed mobsters and intrepid heisters, eccentric locals and lawmen in this amusingly audacious caper performed by the 2009-2010 Acting Apprentice Company."
Deborah Stein's work has been produced and developed at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Theatre @ Boston Court, The Public Theater, Guthrie Theater, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Stages Repertory Theatre, Women's Project & Productions, the Wilma Theater and beyond.
The Humana "Professionals Weekend" (March 19-21) is geared toward artistic directors, literary managers and playwrights. The "Special Visitors Weekend" (March 25-28) is a marathon of theatre geared toward press, producers, directors and casting agents from stage, film and television."
For Theatre Professionals and Special Visitors Weekends package information, call Festival Manager Stephanie Spalding at (502) 584-1265 ext. 3003 or email her at SSpalding@ActorsTheatre.org.