Actors Theatre of Louisville
Actors Theatre of Louisville

Artistic director Les Waters and managing director Kevin E. Moore of Actors Theatre have announced the lineup for the 41st annual Humana Festival of New American Plays. The festival is sponsored by the Humana Foundation and is the longest running partnership between a corporation and a theater in the country.

As always, the plays are diverse in subject matter and their approach. The Cuban missile crisis, “X-Files,” stay-at-home moms and air guitar competitions are all represented in the seven-play festival, which will run March 1-April 9.

Single-ticket prices start at $25, and tickets, including weekend packages, will be on sale at beginning Wednesday.

“The Humana Festival of New American Plays is a leading force in today’s theater. Our writers explore and define the world we all share,” said Waters in a news release. “I am very proud that Actors Theatre’s passion and dedication to artistic risk and courage provides a space for these voices to be heard.”

“The 2016 festival was attended by more than 34,000, with visitors from 41 states and 65 colleges and universities represented in the audience,” Moore said in the release.

The playwrights also represent diverse voices and experiences, including writers who have been commissioned by Actors Theatre and writers who are familiar voices in the region.

The 2017 Humana Festival lineup (synopses provided by Actors Theatre, bios by IL): 

“I Now Pronounce”
By Tasha Gordon-Solmon
Directed by Stephen Brackett

March 1-April 9, 2017
Bingham Theatre

After Adam and Nicole’s wedding culminates in an awkwardly timed fatality, the reception spins into an increasingly strange evening that leaves the bride and groom questioning just what it is they’re celebrating. But there’s no stopping the festivities: The flower girls are running amuck, the bridal party members are more preoccupied with their own flailing relationships, and everyone needs to stop ordering the blue drinks. Comedies end in marriage. Tragedies end in death. This play begins with both.

Gordon-Solomon’s short work has been seen on the Actors’ stage, but this is the first full-length play of hers for the company.

“We’re Gonna Be Okay”
By Basil Kreimendahl
Directed by Lisa Peterson

March 7-April 9
Pamela Brown Auditorium
Part of the Brown-Forman Series

During the Cuban missile crisis, two average American families build a slapdash bomb shelter on their shared property line. With nuclear warfare looming, they wonder: Is it the end? The end of baseball … and table manners … and macramé? But as they fret about the fall of civilization, they start to worry that something more personal is at stake. A slyly hilarious, compassionate look at anxiety in America, “We’re Gonna Be Okay” is about finding the courage to face who we are — and who we want to be.

Kreimendahl is based in Louisville and was commissioned by Actors for the 2014 Humana Fest to write “Remix 38.”

“Cry it Out”
By Molly Smith Metzler
Directed by Davis McCallum
Commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville

March 10-April 9
Bingham Theatre

Cooped up on maternity leave and starved for conversation, Jessie invites her funny and forthright neighbor Lina, also a new mom, for coffee on the patio between their duplexes. Despite their vastly different finances, they become fast friends during nap times — while someone watches from the mansion on the cliff overlooking Jessie’s yard. This comedy with dark edges takes an honest look at the absurdities of being home with a baby, the dilemma of returning to work, and how class impacts parenthood and friendship.

Metzler’s “Elemeno Pea” premiered at the 2011 Humana Festival. She also has been a TV writer on “Orange Is the New Black” and “Casual.”

“Recent Alien Abductions”
By Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas
Directed by Les Waters

March 17-April 9
Pamela Brown Auditorium
Part of the Brown-Forman Series

Álvaro is searching for a lost episode of “The X-Files” that he swears has been mysteriously altered since its original broadcast, but nobody believes him. Could the missing episode be proof of a larger conspiracy? Years later, when a friend arrives in Puerto Rico hoping to preserve Álvaro’s stories, she must face the family from whom he vanished long ago. A darkly compelling tale about the danger of having no one to trust — and how families, and nations, keep circling the places that haunt them.

Cortiñas is playwright-in-residence at Bard College.

By Chelsea Marcantel
Directed by Meredith McDonough

March 24-April 9
Victor Jory Theatre

When Nina enters her first air guitar competition, she thinks winning will be easy. But as she befriends a group of charismatic nerds all committed to becoming the next champion, she discovers there’s more to this art form than playing pretend; it’s about finding yourself in your favorite songs and performing with raw joy. Will Nina be able to let go and set herself free on stage? Following her mission to shred or be shredded, “Airness” is an exuberant reminder that everything we need to rock is already inside us.

According to the news release, Marcantel “is extremely interested in humans as small-group primates, and what happens when the value systems of our chosen groups cease to serve us.”

“The Many Deaths of Nathan Stubblefield”
By Jeff Augustin, Sarah DeLappe, Claire Kiechel, and Ramiz Monsef
Directed by Eric Hoff
Performed by the actors of the 2016-17 Professional Training Company
Commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville

March 24-April 9
Bingham Theatre

The mysterious demise of a Kentucky inventor — and other stories of visionaries from the bluegrass state — inspire a play that explores the nature of innovation and the myths we tell about it. Writing for the 20 actors in this season’s Professional Training Company, four playwrights boldly celebrate unsung dreamers, unlikely breakthroughs and the beauty (and occasional hilarity) of failure. 



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