I have just returned from Louisville, where I attended the 41st Humana Festival of New American Plays. Every year, Actors Theatre of Louisville presents fully staged productions of six previously unseen plays. Recent plays that went on to a New York production include Lucas Hnaths' The Christians, Charles Mee’s The Glory of the World and Colman Domingo’s Dot. Another Humana play, Sarah Ruhl’s For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday, will kick off Playwrights Horizons next season.
Over the years, three plays that originated at the Festival — D.L. Coburn’s The Gin Game, Beth Henley’s Crimes of the Heart and Donald Margulies’s Dinner with Friends — won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. While none of this year’s six plays is likely to be up for a Pulitzer, two of them could well make it to New York.
|Andrea Syglowski and Jessica Dickey (photo by Bill Brymer)|
|The Cast of Airness (photo by Bill Brymer)|
|Scott Drummond and Sam Breslin Wright|
(photo by Bill Brymer)
|Alex Trow and Ben Graney (photo by Bill Brymer)|
|Jon Norman Schneider|
(photo by Bill Brymer)
|The Cast (photo by Bill Brymer)|
An enjoyable Festival extra was a lecture by Taylor Mac on his philosophy of theater.
While this year’s Festival offered no blockbuster hits, it provided many enjoyable moments in a variety of works, at least a couple of which seem to me good candidates for further exposure. The bottom line is that I was glad that I attended.
NOTE: I attended the Festival as a participant in a Road Scholar program that included a variety of activities that greatly enhanced the experience. We toured the three venues and costume shop, had sessions with dramaturgs of five of the plays, learned how new plays are marketed, met with the company’s media technologist, and even wrote our own 12-line plays under the guidance of the education director. We were housed in a nearby first-class hotel, provided with most meals, given a wine and cheese party at the theater, invited to a post-performance soiree, taken on a sightseeing tour of Louisville and a visit to the excellent Speed Art Museum. In addition, our fellow travelers were all devoted theater buffs, which made for good conversation. If you decide to go to next year’s festival, I strongly recommend making your arrangements through Road Scholar.