Zoe Kazan, Charles L. Mee, Naomi Wallace Are Among 2009 Humana Fest Writers

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13 Nov 2008

Zoe Kazan
Zoe Kazan
Photo by Aubrey Reuben
Plays by Marc Masterson and Adrien-Alice Hansel, Zoe Kazan, Charles L. Mee, Allison Moore, Naomi Wallace and the group UNIVERSES will fill the stages of Actors Theatre of Louisville for the 33rd Annual Humana Festival of New American Plays March 1-April 11, 2009.

In addition to the six full-length world premieres by these writers, a special "anthology" play called BRINK!, with contributions by many writers, and three one-act plays (to be announced later) will be presented. Expect special weekend packages, panels and discussions throughout the rotating-repertory festival.

The Humana Fest is internationally recognized as a major breeding ground for new American plays. The Gin Game, Keely and Du, Omnium Gatherum and more started here.

In total, 18 playwrights are to be represented at 2009 Humana, in Louisville, KY.

"The Humana Festival is a celebration of the diversity and strength of new American theatre," Masterson, the ATL artistic director, said in a statement. "The artists in this year's festival represent a cross-section of our culture and include new voices as well as some of the most established and respected writers and directors working in the theatre today."



"Over the past 33 years, the Humana Festival of New American Plays has introduced more than 350 plays into the world," added Jennifer Bielstein, the theatre's managing director. "In this time of economic challenges, the arts provide a vital way for us to examine our changing world. The Humana Festival continues to be a place for us to unite in our support of the American theatre. We look forward to hosting our colleagues and theatre lovers in Louisville in 2009."

BRINK!, performed by the ATL apprentice company, is written by Lydia Diamond, Kristoffer Diaz, Greg Kotis, Deborah Zoe Laufer, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb and Deborah Stein.

Here's the 2009 Humana Festival of New American Plays at a glance:

FULL-LENGTH PLAYS

  • Wild Blessings: A Celebration of Wendell Berry, adapted for the stage by Marc Masterson and Adrien-Alice Hansel from the writing of Wendell Berry, directed by Masterson: "An exploration of the earth, its citizens and the impact of each on the other. This world premiere brings the work of nationally acclaimed poet, novelist and ecological visionary Wendell Berry to the stage in a celebration of words, music and a life well lived."

    Wendell Berry was born in Henry County, KY. He has taught at Georgetown College, Stanford University, New York University and University of Kentucky, his alma mater. The author of over 40 books of poetry, essays and fiction, Berry has received numerous fellowships and awards. He lives and works with his wife, Tanya Berry, on their farm in Port Royal, KY."

  • Absalom by Zoe Kazan, directed by Giovanna Sardelli: "At a Berkshires country house, the children of an aging literary giant gather for a party celebrating the release of their patriarch's tell-all autobiography. When an unexpected guest appears, this family — writers or editors all — must reckon with their stories and who owns them, and with the secrets, betrayals and deep bonds that define what they'll do for love."

    Kazan is an actor/writer currently residing in Brooklyn. As an actor, she has worked in film and both on and Off-Broadway. She is currently appearing on Broadway in The Seagull. This play, her first, was workshopped at Lincoln Center Theater LAB and had readings at The Vineyard Playhouse, The Ensemble Studio Theatre and Yale University.

  • Under Construction by Charles L. Mee, directed by Anne Bogart, created and performed by SITI Company: "A collage of America today, inspired by Norman Rockwell and contemporary installation artist Jason Rhoades, Mee's play juxtaposes the '50s and the present, red states and blue, where we grew up and where we live now — a piece that is, like America, permanently under construction."

    Mee has written Big Love, True Love, First Love, bobrauschenbergamerica, Summertime and Wintertime, among other plays. All of his works are available online and are made possible by the support of Richard B. Fisher and Jeanne Donovan Fisher.

  • Slasher by Allison Moore, directed by Josh Hecht: "When she's cast as the 'last girl' in a low-budget slasher flick, Sheena thinks it's the big break she's been waiting for. But news of the movie unleashes her malingering mother's thwarted feminist rage, and Mom is prepared to do anything to stop filming…even if it kills her."

    Moore is a displaced Texan living in Minneapolis, where she is a 2007-2009 Bush Artists Fellow and a 2008-2009 McKnight Fellow. Her plays include End Times (Kitchen Dog Theater), American Klepto (Illusion Theater), Hazard County (2005 Humana Festival), Urgent Fury (2003 Cherry Lane Mentor Project) and Eighteen (2001 O'Neill Playwrights' Conference).

  • Ameriville by UNIVERSES (Gamal Abdel Chasten, Mildred Ruiz, William Ruiz aka Ninja and Steven Sapp), directed by Chay Yew: "UNIVERSES puts the state of the Union under a microscope — race, poverty, politics, history and government — examining our country through the lens of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans. Ameriville combines an innovative mix of poetry, music, movement and drama to get to the heart of this American tragedy.

    Gamal Abdel Chasten, a founding member of UNIVERSES, is a songwriter/poet/screenwriter. His work has toured more than 25 U.S. cities and five countries. Writing credits include The Last Word, God Took Away His Poem and the UNIVERSES shows The Ride and Slanguage. Chasten is working on the screen projects Red Moon, Joe Bloe and North Borough.

    Mildred Ruiz, a founding member of UNIVERSES, is a playwright/actor/vocalist. Acting credits include The Denver Project (Curious Theatre), One Shot in Lotus Position (The War Anthology, Curious Theatre), Blue Suite, Rhythmicity (2003 Humana Festival), Slanguage (New York Theatre Workshop), The Ride and Alfred Jarry's UBU:Enchained (Teatre Polski in Poland).

    William Ruiz (aka Ninja), a founding member of UNIVERSES, has been seen in Slanguage, Ti Jean Blues, Tree Tails, Salome, Latin Howel and Run Baby Run (Houston Astrodome, Texas). He was playwright/director of Waiting for Gordo (an adaptation of Samuel Beckett's play) and Ambassador of Music for the 2008 Jazz at Lincoln Center: Rhythm Road.

    Steven Sapp is a founding member of UNIVERSES. Credits include The Denver Project (Curious Theatre), One Shot in Lotus Position (The War Anthology, Curious Theatre), Blue Suite, and the UNIVERSES shows Rhythmicity (2003 Humana Festival) and Slanguage (New York Theatre Workshop). As a director he has staged The Ride (playwright/actor/director), The Architecture of Loss (assistant director to Chay Yew), Will Powers' The Seven (University of Iowa) and Alfred Jarry's UBU:Enchained (Teatre Polski in Poland).

  • The Hard Weather Boating Party by Naomi Wallace, directed by Jo Bonney, commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville: "Three men, almost strangers, meet in a hotel room to plan an ugly crime against a powerful adversary. Inspired by research on Louisville's Rubbertown neighborhood, Wallace's play explores the struggle between industrial greed and growth, and the health of the community."

    Wallace's work has been produced in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States. She received the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, Kesselring Prize, Fellowship of Southern Writers Drama Award and an Obie Award. Wallace was also a recipient of the MacArthur Fellows Program Award.

    COMIC ANTHOLOGY

  • BRINK! by Lydia Diamond, Kristoffer Diaz, Greg Kotis, Deborah Zoe Laufer, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb and Deborah Stein, directed by Sean Daniels, commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville: "From first date to marriage, birth to death, and hiring to firing, six fabulous and funny playwrights join forces with our 22 Acting Apprentices to explore rites of passage."

    The festival plays will be presented in rotating repertory in Actors Theatre's 637-seat Pamela Brown Auditorium, 318-seat Bingham Theatre and 159-seat Victor Jory Theatre.

    Theatre Professionals Weekend (March 27–29) is for artistic directors, literary managers and playwrights.

    Special Visitors Weekend (April 3-5) is for press, producers, directors and casting agents from stage, film and television.

    New Play Getaway ticket packages (available for weekends in March and April) are offered for theatre lovers and include discounts to multiple plays with guaranteed seating, hotel discounts and a festival guide.

    The College Days Package (March 20-22) is an educational and professional development experience that includes a package of plays, seminars, post-show discussions and an insider's look behind the scenes.

    For New Play Getaway or College Days package information, call group sales manager Sarah Peters at (502) 585-1210 or GroupSales@ActorsTheatre.org.

    Humana Festival single ticket prices range from $24 to $55 and will be available beginning Nov. 25. For more information or reservations call (502) 584-1205 or 1-800-4-ATL-TIX, or visit Actors Theatre's website at www.ActorsTheatre.org.

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    The festival is sponsored by Humana Foundation. The festival represents the largest and longest current partnership between a corporation and a theatre in the United States.