Actors Theatre Humana Festival to Feature Works by Dorothy Fortenberry, Lucas Hnath and Kimber Lee

By Carey Purcell
November 12, 2013

The lineup for the 38th Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville, KY, has been announced. 



The festival, which will run Feb. 26–April 6, 2014, will represent the work of 16 writers, including two works commissioned by the Actors Theatre.

Now in its 50th Anniversary Season, the Actors Theatre has fully produced almost 450 plays throughout the Humana Festival's 38-year history, and it continues to provide a launching pad for playwrights and new work.

"Actors Theatre continues to support the art and necessity of storytelling by providing a space for the playwright to create, innovate and thrive," artistic director Les Waters said in a statement. "I am proud that this year's Festival celebrates stories that represent the breadth and diversity of the American experience, and I am honored to champion these wonderful writers as their plays are fully realized in production for the first time."

The plays will premiere in rotating repertory in three theatres located in Actors Theatre's downtown Louisville complex. 

"With the generous support of the Humana Foundation, the Humana Festival has transformed Actors Theatre and the city of Louisville into a premier cultural destination," managing director Jennifer Bielstein added. "Last year we attracted visitors from 44 states and 8 countries, in addition to welcoming more than 33,000 attendees — further evidence that strong investment and visionary community support in the future of American theatre are vital to the economic and social prosperity of a city. As we reach an important milestone in Actors Theatre's history, we look forward to welcoming our extended network of artists, colleagues and friends to celebrate our 50th Season with us."

The festival-at-a-glance follows:

Partners
Feb. 26-April 6
By Dorothy Fortenberry
Directed by Lila Neugebauer

"Clare has big plans with her best friend Ezra — starting a food truck, making him marry his boyfriend — until an unexpected windfall forces them to face how they truly feel about money and commitment. A witty, incisive look at two young couples struggling with personal finance, the meaning of marriage, and the deeply human capacity for self-sabotage — as they decipher the ongoing mystery of how to be an adult."

The Christians
March 4-April 6 
By Lucas Hnath
Directed by Les Waters

"Twenty years ago, Pastor Paul's church was nothing more than a modest storefront. Now he presides over a congregation of thousands, with classrooms for Sunday School, a coffee shop in the lobby, and a baptismal font as big as a swimming pool. Today should be a day of celebration. But Paul is about to preach a sermon that will shake the foundations of his church's belief. A big-little play about faith in America — and the trouble with changing your mind."

The Grown-Up
March 7-April 6 
By Jordan Harrison
Directed by Ken Rus Schmoll

"Kai is a ten-year-old boy sitting at his grandfather's feet, listening to a story. Or else he's a young television writer weathering the humiliations of the Hollywood rat race. Or else he's a salty old man in a wheelchair, receiving an award for 'not being dead yet.' Has Kai run afoul of some powerful magic, or is he just living an ordinary, too-quick human life? A time-bending, sad, funny adventure about how to survive growing up."

brownsville song (b-side for tray)
March 14-April 6
By Kimber Lee
Directed by Meredith McDonough

"Tray is only 18 when an act of senseless violence in his Brooklyn neighborhood brings his young life to a halt, leaving his family to grapple with the weight of his absence. In brownsville song time moves in scattered rhythms, pivoting unpredictably between before and after, as Tray's loved ones stumble through loss, find each other, and fight their way toward hope."

Steel Hammer
March 19-April 6 
Directed by Anne Bogart
Music and lyrics by Julia Wolfe
Original text by Kia Corthron, Will Power, Carl Hancock Rux and Regina Taylor
Recorded music performed by Bang on a Can All-Stars and Trio Mediaeval
Performed and created by SITI Company

"The legend of John Henry, deeply rooted in Appalachian folklore surrounding the construction of the American railroad, has existed in many variations and forms — from illustration to tall tale, political polemic to popular song. With music from Bang on a Can's Julia Wolfe, and incorporating text from four remarkable playwrights, Anne Bogart and SITI Company explore the human impulse to tell stories through the rich tales surrounding this American folk hero."

Remix 38
March 21-April 6 
By Jackie Sibblies Drury, Idris Goodwin, Basil Kreimendahl, Justin Kuritzkes, and Amelia Roper
Directed by Ian Frank
Performed by the 2013-14 Acting Apprentice Company
Commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville

"In honor of Actors Theatre's 50th Anniversary Season, we've commissioned five adventurous writers to craft a fresh and diverse evening of short pieces, inspired by iconic plays from throughout the Humana Festival's 38-year history. Created for the Acting Apprentice Company, this playful experiment pays homage to the groundbreaking work of Festivals past, while celebrating singular voices blazing new trails of their own."

For more information, visit HumanaFestival.org.