Playwright Jordan Harrison. Photo-Aaron Epstein.

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When then Artistic Director Jon Jory launched a new play initiative at Actors Theatre nearly 40 years ago, it was a new and untried idea. With the generous support of the Louisville-based Humana Foundation, it premiered many plays that would go on to have impact on a national level – The Gin Game by D. L. Coburn, Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley and Dinner with Friends by Donald Margulies, to name a few – and within a few years, the Humana Festival earned one of the first Tony Awards given to a regional theatre for ATL.

The recently announced lineup of the 38th Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville, running February 26–April 6, 2014, brings the return of several faces who have history with the festival, including Lucas Hnath, Jordan Harrison and Anne Bogart’s SITI Company. Now that the American theatre landscape is dotted by other such festivals that foster the work of contemporary writers, including all-important second and third productions of new material, the Humana Festival remains one of the most important venues for fresh, challenging scripts being given fully realized productions, and will once again host the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award and Citations on April 5, 2014.

“Actors Theatre continues to support the art and necessity of storytelling by providing a space for the playwright to create, innovate and thrive,” said Les Waters, Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Artistic Director. This year’s lineup represents the work of sixteen writers and includes two new works commissioned by Actors Theatre, as well as the much-anticipated return of acclaimed director Anne Bogart and SITI Company. Now in its 50th Anniversary Season, Actors Theatre has built an incredible legacy of supporting the long-term vitality of the American theatre.

Weekend packages for the 2014 Humana Festival of New American Plays will go on sale on November 12 and single tickets are available starting November 14. For more information about College Days, New Play Getaway and Industry package options, which include networking opportunities, panel discussions and celebrations, please visit

Besides its primary 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.

This year’s Festival program will feature (in order of opening):

by Dorothy Fortenberry
directed by Lila Neugebauer

February 26 – April 6
in the 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. A witty, incisive look at two young couples struggling with personal finance, the meaning of marriage and the deeply human capacity for self-sabotage – as they decipher the ongoing mystery of how to be an adult.

Partners was written at The MacDowell Colony and developed by Page 73 and LiveWire Theatre.

Dorothy Fortenberry’s work has been produced and developed by Arena Stage, Center REPertory Company, Geva Theatre Center and Oregon Shakespeare Festival, as well as by Ars Nova, Chalk Repertory Theatre and The Management Theater Company. She is currently working on a commission for Yale Repertory Theatre, inspired by the life and work of Madeleine L’Engle. She lives in Los Angeles, where she writes for the CW television show The 100 and is developing a one-hour drama series with Ry Russo-Young at Bravo. Fortenberry is a winner of the 2011 Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights and a two-time finalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, and holds an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama.


The Christians
by Lucas Hnath
directed by Les Waters
commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville

March 4 – April 6
in the Pamela Brown Auditorium
part of the Brown-Forman Series

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.

The Christians was commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville and was developed through a Creativity Fund at New Dramatists as well as through a workshop at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Lucas Hnath’s plays include Red Speedo (Studio Theatre, Washington, D.C.), A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney (Soho Rep.), nightnight as part of Sleep Rock Thy Brain (2013 Humana Festival), Isaac’s Eye (Ensemble Studio Theatre), Death Tax (2012 Humana Festival, Royal Court Theatre) and The Courtship of Anna Nicole Smith (Actors Theatre of Louisville). He has been awarded the 2012 Whitfield Cook Award for Isaac’s Eye and a 2013 Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award Citation for Death Tax. Hnath has been a resident playwright at New Dramatists since 2011 and is also a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre. He received both his B.F.A. and M.F.A. from New York University’s Department of Dramatic Writing and is a lecturer in NYU’s Expository Writing Program.


The Grown-Up
by Jordan Harrison
directed by Ken Rus Schmoll

March 7 – April 6
in the Bingham Theatre

Kai is a ten-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?  A time-bending, sad, funny adventure about how to survive growing up.

The Grown-Up was developed with the support of Clubbed Thumb.

Jordan Harrison’s previous Humana Festival productions include Kid-Simple, Act a Lady, Fit for Feet and Maple and Vine, which went on to be produced at Playwrights Horizons in New York and A.C.T. in San Francisco. Harrison’s other plays include Doris to Darlene (Playwrights Horizons), Amazons and their Men (Clubbed Thumb), Finn in the Underworld (Berkeley Repertory), Futura (Portland Center Stage) and a children’s musical, The Flea and the Professor (Arden Theatre). His new play Marjorie Prime will premiere in fall 2014 at the Mark Taper Forum. 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. A graduate of the Brown University M.F.A. program, Harrison is an alumnus of New Dramatists.


brownsville song (b-side for tray)
by Kimber Lee
directed by Meredith McDonough

March 14 – April 6
in the Pamela Brown Auditorium
part of the Brown-Forman Series

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.

brownsville song (b-side for tray) was developed with support from the Lark Play Development Center, the 2013 Seven Devils Playwrights Conference and the 2013 Bay Area Playwrights Festival (a program of the Playwrights Foundation, Amy L. Mueller, Artistic Director).

Kimber Lee’s plays include fight, different words for the same thing, tokyo fish story and brownsville song (b-side for tray). In 2014, Center Theatre Group will present the world premiere of different words for the same thing in Los Angeles. Lee’s work has also been presented by the Lark Play Development Center, Page 73, Hedgebrook, Seven Devils, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, REPRESENT! Playwrights Festival ACT/Seattle, Great Plains Theatre Conference, Southern Rep and Mo`olelo. 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. Lee is currently a member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab and the recipient of the 2013 PoNY Fellowship.  She holds an M.F.A. from the University of Texas at Austin.


Steel Hammer
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
performed and created by SITI Company

March 19 – April 6
in the 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.

The original musical score of Steel Hammer was commissioned by Bang on a Can with generous support from Maria and Robert A. Skirnick and Carnegie Hall.

Anne Bogart is the Artistic Director of SITI Company, which she founded with Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki in 1992. She is a Professor at Columbia University, where she runs the Graduate Directing Program. Works with SITI include A Rite; Café Variations; Trojan Women (After Euripides); American Document; Antigone; Under Construction; Freshwater; Who Do You Think You Are; Radio Macbeth; Hotel Cassiopeia; Death and the Ploughman; La Dispute; Score; bobrauschenbergamerica; Room; War of the Worlds–the Radio Play; Cabin Pressure; Alice’s Adventures; Culture of Desire; Bob; Going, Going, Gone; Small Lives/Big Dreams; The Medium; Noel Coward’s Hay Fever and Private Lives; August Strindberg’s Miss Julie; and Charles Mee’s Orestes. She is the author of five books: A Director Prepares; The Viewpoints Book; And Then, You Act; Conversations with Anne; and upcoming, What’s the Story. 


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
commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville

March 21 – April 6
in the 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.

Remix 38 was commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville. This show is the culmination of the Laboratory Series – a season comprised entirely of new work developed with the Apprentice/Intern Company.


The Ten-Minute Plays
April 5 & 6
in the Pamela Brown Auditorium

A bill of three ten-minute plays to be announced in January.