2014 Humana Festival of New American Plays

Playwright Charles L. Mee and director Anne Bogart at work with members of the SITI company on "bobrauschenbergamerica" in 2001 at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Bogart and the SITI Company return to the 2014 Humana Festival for "Steel Hammer." © Herald-Leader file photo by David Perry.

Playwright Charles L. Mee and director Anne Bogart at work with members of the SITI company on “bobrauschenbergamerica” in 2001 at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Bogart and the SITI Company return to the 2014 Humana Festival for “Steel Hammer.” © Herald-Leader file photo by David Perry.

Actors Theatre of Louisville has announced the lineup for the 38th annual Humana Festival of New American Plays, the event that put Louisville on the international theatrical map.

The festival comes in the midst of Actors Theatre’s 50th anniversary season and looks like a classic mix of familiar and new writers, timeless and timely  topics.

Here’s the lineup. Descriptions are quoted from the Actors Theatre press release.

Partners by Dorothy Fortenberry, directed by Lila Neugebauer. Feb. 26–April 6, Bingham Theatre. “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.” Fortenberry’s work has been produced by prominent theaters around the country, and she is the winner of the 2011 Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights and a two-time finalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. Based in Los Angeles, she writes for The CW’s The 100 and is developing a one-hour drama series for Bravo with Ry Russo-Young.

The Christians by Lucas Hnath, directed by Les Waters. March 4 – April 6, Pamela Brown Auditorium. “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.” Hnath’s previous Actors Theatre work has included nightnight as part of Sleep Rock Thy Brain at the 2013 Humana Festival, Death Tax at 2012 Humana Festival and the Royal Court Theatre, and The Courtship of Anna Nicole Smith in 2010. He has been a resident playwright at New York’s New Dramatists since 2011 and is a lecturer in New York University’s Expository Writing Program.

The Grown-Up by Jordan Harrison, directed by Ken Rus Schmoll. March 7–April 6, Bingham Theatre “Kai is a 10-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?” Jordan Harrison is exceedingly familiar to Humana audiences for shows such as Kid-Simple, Act a Lady, Fit for Feet and Maple and Vine. His new play Marjorie Prime will premiere next fall at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Harrison is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Hodder Fellowship, the Kesselring Prize, the Roe Green Award from Cleveland Play House, the Heideman Award, the Loewe Award for Musical Theater and a NEA/TCG grant.

brownsville song (b-side for tray) by Kimber Lee, directed by Meredith McDonough. March 14–April 6, Pamela Brown Auditorium. “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.” Lee’s play fight received the 2010 Holland New Voices Award, and she has been a Lark Playwrights’ Workshop Fellow, Dramatists Guild Fellow, and a Core Apprentice at The Playwrights’ Center.

Steel Hammer, performed and created by SITI Company and 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. March 19–April 6, Victor Jory Theatre. “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.” Bogart and the SITI Company have brought numerous high-profile plays to the Humana Festival including bobrauschenbergamerica, War of the Worlds–the Radio Play and Cabin Pressure. Corthron’s name will be familiar to Lexington-area theater fans as the judge for the Kentucky Women Writer’s Conference’s second playwrighting competition, and her Humana scripts include Moot the Messenger, Slide Glide the Slippery Slope and The Open Road Anthology.

Remix 38 by Jackie Sibblies Drury, Idris Goodwin, Basil Kreimendahl, Justin Kuritzkes, and Amelia Roper. Directed by Ian Frank, performed by the 2013-2014 Acting Apprentice Company. March 21–April 6, Bingham Theatre. “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.”

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