Are you a Frosty Twinklelights? Or a Giggle Cookielove? Or maybe just in need of a cocktail? Find out your elf name, and then pour a drink. Get your tickets to The Santaland Diaries today!
Actors Theatre of Louisville Artistic Director Les Waters and Managing Director Kevin E. Moore are delighted to announce the lineup for the 42nd Humana Festival of New American Plays. A cultural highlight for theatre lovers, artists and producers across the country, the Humana Festival runs February 28 through April 8, 2018.
This year’s Festival program will feature six world premieres, including (in order of opening; for more information on individual plays, see below):
“The Humana Festival of New American Plays is a leading force in today’s theatre. Our writers explore and define the world that we all share,” said Les Waters. “I am very proud that Actors Theatre’s passion and dedication to artistic risk and courage creates a space for these voices to be heard.”
Kevin E. Moore added, “The Humana Festival has long been a vital part of the American theatre landscape. Our partnership with the Humana Foundation is unparalleled, and their nearly four-decade-long commitment ensures that theatre continues to thrive in this country and around the globe. The 2017 Festival was attended by more than 36,000 people, with visitors from 39 states and 57 colleges and universities represented in the audience. By investing in the future of American theatre, Actors Theatre makes a significant impact not only on the national theatre canon, but also on the local economic prosperity and cultural vibrancy of Louisville.”
For over four decades, Actors Theatre of Louisville has been a driving force in new play development, introducing more than 450 plays into the American theatre repertoire and representing the work of more than 400 playwrights and ensembles. The internationally acclaimed Humana Festival is recognized as a crucial incubator for new work and a launching pad for myriad subsequent productions around the country and the world. Plays recently commissioned and/or produced by Actors Theatre—such as Lucas Hnath’s The Christians, Jen Silverman’s The Roommate and Colman Domingo’s Dot—have been seen by audiences far and wide.
This year’s lineup of plays will be performed in rotating repertory in three theatres located in Actors Theatre’s downtown Louisville complex: the 633-seat Pamela Brown Auditorium, 318-seat Bingham Theatre and 159-seat Victor Jory Theatre. The 2018 Humana Festival schedule also offers a weekend of enrichment events for college students, and features special weekend packages for theatre lovers and practitioners alike. These weekends are packed with discussions, networking opportunities and parties, making Louisville a vibrant destination for American theatre this spring. A full list of the weekend package offerings is included in the listings section below.
Actors Theatre celebrates the 42nd Humana Festival with underwriter the Humana Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Humana, Inc. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.
Detailed information about each of the plays in the 42nd Humana Festival of New American Plays follows:
God Said This
by Leah Nanako Winkler
directed by Morgan Gould
February 28 – April 8
in the Bingham Theatre
With her mom undergoing chemotherapy, New York transplant Hiro returns home to Lexington, Kentucky after years away. Sophie, her born-again Christian sister, fights to maintain her faith amid adversity. James, their recovering alcoholic father, wants to repair his fractured relationship with his daughters, but redemption isn’t easy. And John, an old classmate and single dad, worries about his legacy. Wry and bittersweet, God Said This is a portrait of five people confronting mortality in very different ways—and unexpectedly finding that their struggles bring them together.
Leah Nanako Winkler is from Kamakura, Japan and Lexington, Kentucky. Her plays include Kentucky (2015 Kilroys List; world premiere: Ensemble Studio Theatre/Page 73/Radio Drama Network; West Coast premiere: East West Players), Two Mile Hollow (2017 Kilroys List; simultaneous world premiere: Artists at Play, Mixed Blood Theatre/Mu Performing Arts, First Floor Theater and Ferocious Lotus Theatre Company), and more. Publications: Samuel French and Dramatists Play Service. Winkler received the first annual Mark O’Donnell Prize from The Actors Fund and Playwrights Horizons, and a 2017 Audible commission for emerging playwrights. She is currently a Time Warner Fellow at WP Theater, a member of the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group at Primary Stages and Ma-Yi Theater Company’s Writers Lab, and is an alumna of Youngblood at Ensemble Studio Theatre.
by Deborah Stein
directed by Meredith McDonough
March 6 – April 8
in the Pamela Brown Auditorium
part of the Brown-Forman Series
Days after 9/11, the few surviving employees of an investment firm based near the top of the Twin Towers gather in a New Jersey warehouse. Shell-shocked and grief-stricken, they work around the clock to reconstruct what’s left of their company with determination, pen and paper, and a temp who just wants to help. But as they struggle to recoup their losses, they wonder: what does getting “back to normal” really mean?
Deborah Stein is a playwright, director and collaborative theatre maker. Previous work at Actors Theatre includes Fissures (lost and found) and HEIST! (both 2010 Humana Festival) and Brink! (2009 Humana Festival). With Suli Holum, she is co-artistic director of Stein | Holum Projects, where she wrote and co-directed The Wholehearted (ArtsEmerson commission; world premiere at Center Theatre Group and La Jolla Playhouse) and Chimera (HARP commission; Under the Radar 2012; UK Premiere at The Gate in London, 2014). Other collaborations include six plays with Pig Iron Theatre Company, and most recently directing Keith Wallace’s The Bitter Game for La Jolla Playhouse and Under the Radar 2017. Her work has also been produced and developed by Z Space, Playwrights Horizons, Clubbed Thumb, The Theatre @ Boston Court, Live Girls! Theater and Workhaus Collective. Awards include a Bush Artist Fellowship, two Jerome Fellowships and a McKnight Advancement Grant. An alumna of New Dramatists, she received her M.F.A. from Brown, where she studied with Paula Vogel. Originally from Queens, New York, she currently lives in Los Angeles and teaches at the University of California San Diego.
Do You Feel Anger?
by Mara Nelson-Greenberg
directed by Margot Bordelon
March 9 – April 8
in the Bingham Theatre
Sofia was recently hired as an empathy coach at a debt collection agency—and clearly, she has her work cut out for her. These employees can barely identify what an emotion is, much less practice deep, radical compassion for others. And while they painstakingly stumble towards enlightenment, someone keeps mugging Eva in the kitchen. An outrageous comedy about the absurdity—and the danger—of a world where some people’s feelings matter more than others’.
Mara Nelson-Greenberg’s work has been developed at Playwrights Horizons, Clubbed Thumb, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Dixon Place, Theatre Intime and WildWind Performance Lab, among others. She is a member of Youngblood at Ensemble Studio Theatre, a New Georges Affiliated Artist and an alumna of Clubbed Thumb’s Early Career Writers’ Group. She co-wrote the web series End Times Girls Club, which was produced by Broadway Video and Above Average and released in March of 2016. She received her B.A. from Princeton University and is currently pursuing an M.F.A. at the University of California San Diego under Naomi Iizuka.
Evocation to Visible Appearance
by Mark Schultz
directed by Les Waters
commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville
March 16 – April 8
in the Pamela Brown Auditorium
part of the Brown-Forman Series
You wanna know what the future looks like? Samantha, 17 and possibly pregnant, longs for solid ground—but she’s haunted by the sense that nothing will last. Her college-bound boyfriend wants to go sing on The Voice, her dad’s asleep on the couch, and her older sister’s in treatment. When Sam befriends a tattooed musician, has she found someone who understands this fallen world? With black humor and black metal, this gripping new play gives form to a gathering darkness.
Mark Schultz is a resident playwright at New Dramatists and a member of Rising Phoenix Repertory. His plays include The Blackest Shore, The Gingerbread House, Ceremony, Deathbed, Gift and Everything Will Be Different: A Brief History of Helen of Troy. His work has been performed or developed by Soho Rep, Playwrights Horizons, Rising Phoenix Repertory, MCC Theater, The Catastrophic Theatre, Birmingham Repertory Theatre (UK), Actors Touring Company (UK) and Tiyatro Yan Etki (Turkey). He has received the Oppenheimer Award and the Kesselring Prize, commissions from MTC/Sloan, Playwrights Horizons, Actors Theatre of Louisville and The Exchange, and was selected for a Royal Court Residency. Schultz holds an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, a diploma from Berkeley Divinity School, a certificate from the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and an M.F.A. in playwriting from Columbia University.
we, the invisibles
by Susan Soon He Stanton
directed by Dámaso Rodríguez
March 23 – April 8
in the Victor Jory Theatre
Stirred by a controversial case in which a West African maid’s accusation against a powerful man is dismissed, Susan, a playwright working a survival job at a luxury hotel, starts interviewing fellow employees from around the world. She feels compelled to give voice to other hotel workers’ rarely heard stories—but as her investigation deepens, this documentary project becomes an unexpectedly personal journey. Funny, poignant, and brutally honest, we, the invisibles explores the complicated relationship between the movers and shakers and the people who change their sheets.
Susan Soon He Stanton’s plays include Today Is My Birthday (Page 73), Takarazuka!!! (Clubbed Thumb and East West Players), Cygnus (WP Theater Lab), Solstice Party! (Live Source Theatre Group), and The Things Are Against Us (Washington Ensemble Theatre). She is a two-time Sundance Theatre Lab Resident Playwright, and she was recently awarded the inaugural Venturous Playwright Fellowship at The Lark, as well as the Leah Ryan Prize. Her work has been included on The Kilroys List from 2015-2017, and she is currently under commission at Yale Repertory Theatre, South Coast Repertory and Ensemble Studio Theatre. Writing groups past and present include Page 73’s Interstate 73, The Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group, and the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, among others. She writes for Succession (HBO). She received an M.F.A. in playwriting from Yale School of Drama and a B.F.A. from New York University.
You Across from Me
by Jaclyn Backhaus, Dipika Guha, Brian Otaño and Jason Gray Platt
directed by Jessica Fisch
performed by the actors of the 2017-2018 Professional Training Company
commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville
March 23 – April 8
in the Bingham Theatre
We gather at tables on good days and bad, for ordinary rituals and once-in-a-lifetime encounters. But in polarizing times, what does it really mean to come to the table? Does it bring us together, or reveal just how far apart we truly are? With electric wit and fierce imagination, four writers explore this surprisingly complicated act, and the many ways we connect, confront and compromise.
Jaclyn Backhaus is a playwright and co-founder of Fresh Ground Pepper. Her play Men on Boats (Clubbed Thumb’s Summerworks, Playwrights Horizons) was a New York Times Critic’s Pick and is published by Dramatists Play Service. Other works include Folk Wandering (Pipeline Theatre Company, upcoming), People Doing Math Live! (Under the Radar Festival’s INCOMING! series at The Public Theater), The Incredible Fox Sisters (Live Source Theatre Group) and You on the Moors Now (Theater Reconstruction Ensemble, The Hypocrites). Backhaus has received commissions from Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan Theatre Club, Ensemble Studio Theatre and Ars Nova, and was the 2016 Tow Foundation Playwright-in-Residence at Clubbed Thumb. She is currently in residence at Lincoln Center Theater. She received her B.F.A. from New York University and hails from Phoenix, Arizona.
Dipika Guha was raised in India, England and Russia. Her plays include Yoga Play (South Coast Repertory, The Kilroys List 2017), The Art of Gaman (The Ground Floor at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, The Kilroys List 2016, Relentless Award semifinalist) and Mechanics of Love (Crowded Fire Theater). She is under commission at South Coast Repertory, the McCarter Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, Barrington Stage Company, American Conservatory Theater/Z Space and Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Play On! project (The Merry Wives of Windsor). Her play Azaan premiered at Oregon Symphony this fall. Guha received her M.F.A. from Yale School of Drama, studying under Paula Vogel, and is a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University. She currently writes for the series American Gods on Starz.
Brian Otaño grew up in New York City, where he worked as a playwright and a scenic artist at the Metropolitan Opera before moving to Los Angeles. His plays include Tara, Zero Feet Away, The Ocean at Your Door, What We Told the Neighbors and Between the Sandbar and the Shore. His work has been performed, developed and workshopped with New York Theatre Workshop, Roundabout Theatre Company, Page 73, Ars Nova, Atlantic Theater Company, New Dramatists, INTAR, The Amoralists, The Parsnip Ship, Lark Play Development Center, IAMA Theatre Company (L.A.) and Celebration Theatre (L.A.). Residencies & Fellowships: New Dramatists Van Lier Playwriting Fellowship, Interstate 73, New York Theatre Workshop 2050 Fellowship, Ars Nova’s Play Group and SPACE on Ryder Farm. Education: Otaño received his B.F.A. in dramatic writing from SUNY Purchase.
Jason Gray Platt’s work has been produced and developed around the country by American Repertory Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Denver Center Theatre Company, The Flea Theater, Round House Theatre, TheatreWorks, The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, The Playwrights Realm, Prelude NYC, Page 73 Productions and Red Bull Theater, and through residencies at The MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. He received a Helen Hayes Nomination for The Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play in 2013 and was the runner-up for the 2007 Princess Grace Award in Playwriting. Originally from Arizona, Platt now lives in Los Angeles. He is a Core Writer at the Playwrights’ Center and a member of Woodshed Collective. He received his B.A. from Vassar College and his M.F.A. from Columbia University.
You Across from Me is supported in part by The Roy Cockrum Foundation.
About the Professional Training Company
Now in its 46th year, the Professional Training Company (PTC) is the cornerstone of Actors Theatre of Louisville’s commitment to education. One of the nation’s oldest pre-professional training programs, the PTC is a one-of-a-kind immersive program designed to transition recent college graduates into careers by teaching the business and the art of being a theatre professional. Members of the Company work directly with Actors Theatre artistic and administrative leaders, as well as visiting guest artists, to receive hands-on training in their respective fields. The PTC is a diverse community comprised of 42 talented individuals who are the next generation of American theatre.
Humana Festival Kickoff
Thursday, February 22, 2018 from 5:30 – 8 p.m.
Join Actors Theatre for a fun celebration to bring in the Festival with much-deserved fanfare! This event is free, but ticketed.
Saturday, March 31, 2018 at 10 p.m.
Join us at this free, casual gathering, where you’ll meet local theatre enthusiasts and welcome the theatre industry’s finest.
Saturday, April 7, 2018 at 10 p.m.
Come and help us celebrate the closing weekend of the Humana Festival! An evening of food, drink and entertainment throughout Actors Theatre’s lobbies, the Bash is an opportunity for patrons, producers, artists, critics, Actors alumni and more to send off this memorable season in style!
Panel conversations and keynote speakers will be announced at a later date.
Festival Ticket Packages will be on sale beginning November 16, 2017 and are available for the following weekends, enabling you to see a variety of Humana Festival plays and access special events: March 16-18, March 23-25, March 30-April 1, and April 5-8, 2018. Packages are available for theatre lovers and practitioners on all Festival weekends, and for college students and professors the weekend of March 23-25, 2018
Actors Theatre’s Season Ticket Holders can access single tickets and package add-ons during a special pre-sale beginning on Wednesday, November 15, 2017.
Single ticket prices start at $25, and tickets will be on sale beginning January 3, 2018. For more information or to purchase Humana Festival weekend packages, visit ActorsTheatre.org or call 502.584.1205.
Read up on the tips Dominique Morisseau, playwright of Skeleton Crew has before you go see her show!
You are allowed to laugh audibly.
You are allowed to have audible moments of reaction and response.
My work requires a few “um hmms” and “uhn uhnns” should you need to use them. Just maybe in moderation. Only when you really need to vocalize.
This can be church for some of us, and testifying is allowed.
This is also live theatre and the actors need you to engage with them, not distract them or thwart their performance.
Please be an audience member that joins with others and allows a bit of breathing room. Exhale together. Laugh together. Say “amen” should you need to.
This is community. Let’s go.
—Dominique Morisseau, playwright, Skeleton Crew.
Author: Actor’s Theatre, Laura Humble
The Most Frequently Asked Questions About This Chilling Louisville Tradition Every fall, Count Dracula takes the Bingham Theatre by storm, continuing his bloodthirsty reign of terror in a production that’s become a Louisville tradition. From our special recipes for fake blood to our four-legged cast members and talented backstage crew, here we reveal answers to some of the most frequently asked questions from Dracula Fans.
This is the first part of a five-part series.
Actors Theatre of Louisville is delighted to announce the return of their successful Community Ticket Grant program for the 2017-2018 Season, sponsored in part by Brown-Forman. In serving Actors Theatre’s mission to unlock human potential, build community, and enrich quality of life by engaging people in theatre that reflects the wonder and complexities of our time, this city-wide initiative extends the opportunity to experience Actors Theatre’s robust programming to any members of Louisville and Southern Indiana’s community groups and 501(c)(3) charities, who for various reasons, may not have the resources to attend a performance on their own.
In its inaugural season, the Community Ticket Grant program served 61 area charities, which granted the opportunity for a theatrical experience to 1,500 local residents. “We are thrilled to provide this opportunity again for everyone in our community to participate in the power of live theatre,” said Melissa Hines, Marketing Manager. “We had an overwhelmingly positive response this past season, which only solidifies the importance of this program. We want our audience to be reflective of our dynamic and diverse community, and the Community Ticket Grant program is one more way to remove any barriers to accessing artistic programming.”
Qualifying community groups and 501(c)(3) charities serving individuals in the greater Louisville and Southern Indiana area are welcome to apply to receive complimentary tickets to an Opening Night performance from a selection of Actors Theatre’s 2017-2018 Season Brown-Forman Series, holiday shows, and 42nd Humana Festival productions. Each group may apply for up to three productions a year with ticket quantities ranging from a minimum of 10 tickets up to a maximum of 150 tickets. The selected groups will be awarded tickets to one of their three production choices for the 2017-2018 Season. Groups will work with Melissa Hines, Marketing Manager, and members of the Actors Theatre Box Office to coordinate attendance details and seating selection for their group members.
As part of their grant applications, groups may request tickets to the following productions in Actors Theatre’s 2017-2018 Season:
Deadline to submit applications for the 2017-2018 Season is August 4, 2017. Additional season information, program rules and restrictions, and the online application form can be found at actorstheatre.org/community-ticket-grant. Specific questions may be directed to Melissa Hines, Marketing Manager, at email@example.com or 502.584.1265 x3140.
In a united effort to promote history and tourism in Jefferson County and beyond, eight National Historic Landmarks representing the most historically significant sites in the area have united to form a new organization, National Historic Landmarks of Louisville.
The group includes Actors Theatre, Belle of Louisville, Churchill Downs’ Twin Spires, Life-Saving Station #10, Locust Grove, Louisville Water Company Pumping Station No.1 and Water Tower, the U.S. Marine Hospital and Zachary Taylor’s Boyhood Home.
“There’s only one Louisville, and Churchill Downs’ Twin Spires, the Water Tower, Actors Theatre and the other national landmarks are synonymous with who we are as a city,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “I’m excited that National Historic Landmarks of Louisville will be promoting these places of culture and history. I encourage every citizen to learn more about the landmarks of Louisville, because their history is our history.”
National Historic Landmarks of Louisville is launching a new program to encourage people to visit six of the eight sites that are currently open to the public. (The U.S. Marine Hospital is closed to the public. Zachary Taylor’s Boyhood Home is a private residence).
“The eight National Historic Landmarks of Louisville will connect you to our nation’s vibrant past in a way that cannot be experienced through images, film or the pages of a book,” says Anna Gibson Holloway, PhD, Maritime Historian, with the Park History Program, National Park Service. “Local preservation efforts are key to keeping these Landmarks accessible to current and future generations of Louisville citizens and to those visitors from around the world who come to experience Louisville’s hospitality and heritage.”
Guests can get a special pass validated at each of the public National Historic Landmark sites when they visit, and then bring the pass to the Louisville Visitor Center at 301 S. Fourth St. to receive a gift. The passes are available at any of the landmarks and the Louisville Visitor Center.
Visitors are encouraged to use the hashtag #LandmarkLover to share their experiences via social media.
Artistic Director Les Waters and Managing Director Kevin E. Moore are thrilled to share that Andrew Hinderaker’s The Magic Play will round out Actors Theatre of Louisville’s 2017 – 2018 Season. Critically acclaimed magician and actor Brett Schneider stars in this one-of-a-kind theatrical experience that combines love, loss and world-class magic into an evening of pure heart-warming spectacle. Chicago Sun-Times states, “True to its title, “The Magic Play,” Andrew Hinderaker’s highly original, altogether remarkable new work, is full of sleight-of-hand astonishments.” Directed by Halena Kays, The Magic Play will run from January 23 – February 11, 2018 in the Pamela Brown Auditorium as part of the Brown-Forman Series.
“The Magic Play is theatrical wonder at its very best,” says Artistic Director Les Waters. “Not only is it world-class magic that everyone will enjoy, but also a moving human drama of loss and love. I am excited to share this play with our community and think Andrew Hinderaker’s brilliance will be a perfect complement to the other wildly entertaining stories in our 2017 – 2018 Season.”
Presenting the finalized 2017 – 2018 Season at Actors Theatre of Louisville:
Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches
Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika
By Tony Kushner
Directed by Meredith McDonough
August 29 – October 14, 2017
Fifth Third Bank’s Dracula
Originally dramatized by John L. Balderston and Hamilton Deane
From Bram Stoker’s world-famous novel, Dracula
As adapted and directed by William McNulty
September 6 – October 31, 2017
By Dominique Morisseau
Directed by Steve H. Broadnax III
November 14 – December 10, 2017
Fifth Third Bank’s A Christmas Carol
By Charles Dickens
Adapted by Barbara Field
Directed by Drew Fracher
November 21 – December 23, 2017
The Santaland Diaries
By David Sedaris
Adapted by Joe Mantello
Directed by Meredith McDonough
December 1 – 23, 2017
Little Bunny Foo Foo
By Anne Washburn
Directed by Les Waters
January 9 – February 4, 2018
The Magic Play
By Andrew Hinderaker
Directed by Halena Kays
Featuring magician Brett Schneider
January 23 – February 11, 2018
42nd Humana Festival of New American Plays
February 28 – April 8, 2018
The 2017-2018 Season is generously supported by Brown-Forman, the official season sponsor, with additional support from Fund for the Arts, the Kentucky Arts Council and Yum! Brands, which supports the student matinee series.
For more information on the 2017-2018 Season, including play descriptions and ticketing availability, please visit ActorsTheatre.org.