Louisville playwright Diana Grisanti


By Rachel White

Entire contents are copyright © 2014 Rachel White. All rights reserved.

The Humana Festival is a huge event not only for the American Theater as a whole but for the thousands America’s playwrights, known and unknown, who aspire to take part in it, and seek inspiration from its works.   The festival has launched the careers of hundreds of playwrights and given life to many more plays include The Gin Game by D.L. Coburn, Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley, and more recently Branden Jacobs Jenkin’s Appropriate and Lucas Hnath’s The Christians.  It is with this rich tradition behind them that artistic director Les Waters and Managing Director Jennifer Bielstein announce the 2015 lineup.  “New work is in Actors Theatre’s DNA,” says Waters “we champion writers by providing the resources, space and support necessary for them to fully realize their visions.” The festival will run March 4-April 12 2015.

Among the returning writers is Louisville’s own Diana Grisanti, whose short play Post Wave Spectacular appeared in the 2010 Humana Festival.  Grisanti is a graduate of UT-Austin, and a playwright in residence with Louisville’s Theatre-502 for whom she co-wrote the serialized play, The Stranger and Ludlow Quinn.  For this year’s festival, Grisanti has collaborated with playwrights Corey Hinkle, Jeff Augustin, and Charise Castro Smith to produce That High Lonesome Sound, an exploration of bluegrass music.

Other notables include Obie Award Winner Charles Mee’s The Glory of the World, Pig Iron Theatre Company’s I Promised Myself to Live Faster, and Jen Silverman’s The Roommate.  There will also be a bill of ten-minute plays which will be announced in January.  From the experimental, to the more traditional fair, there seems to be a little something for everyone in this year’s festival.

The Humana Festival receives support from its underwriter the Humana Foundation, a partnership that represents the longest running active partnership between a corporation and a theater in the country.  They are also supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.  The festival is vital to Louisville, bringing in artists and theater goers from all around, and introducing them to our thriving culinary, musical, artistic scene. “With the generous support of the Humana Foundation, Actors Theatre is proud to bolster the economic and social prosperity of our city” says Bielstein.

Weekend packages and single tickets go on sale November 12, and season ticket holders can purchase single tickets during a special pre-sale November 11.  For more information on College Days, New Play Gettaway, and Industry Nights visit Humanafestival.org or call 502-584-1205.

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

The Roommate

by Jen Silverman
directed by Mike Donahue

March 4 – April 12, 2015

in the Bingham Theatre

Recently divorced and living in an old house in Iowa, Sharon finds a sensible roommate like herself—a woman in her fifties—to make ends meet. But she quickly learns that Robyn, a vegan from the Bronx, couldn’t be further from the ladies in her book club. Hell-bent on getting to know Robyn despite their differences, Sharon deploys her friendly Midwestern charm at full force. Their sensibilities are humorously mismatched, but turning over a new leaf can have unintended consequences.

Jen Silverman’s work includes The Dangerous House Of Pretty Mbane at InterAct Theatre Company; Crane Story, produced Off-Broadway by The Playwrights Realm; Phoebe in Winter, produced Off-Off Broadway by Clubbed Thumb; and That Poor Girl and How He Killed Her, commissioned and produced by Playwrights Horizons Theatre School. Silverman is an affiliated artist with New Georges, Ars Nova, and the Lark Play Development Center, and has developed work with Playwrights Horizons, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Williamstown Theatre Festival, PlayPenn, The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, New York Theatre Workshop, and The New Harmony Project. The Hunters was selected for the Cherry Lane Mentor Project (mentor: Lynn Nottage), and Still won the Yale Drama Series Award and was published by Yale University Press. Silverman holds a B.A. from Brown University, an M.F.A. from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop, and attends The Juilliard School. For more information, visit www.jensilverman.com.

The Roommate was developed in part with assistance from SPACE on Ryder Farm, www.spaceonryderfarm.com. 


by Colman Domingo
directed by Meredith McDonough

March 10 – April 12, 2015

in the Pamela Brown Auditorium

part of the Brown-Forman Series

In the Shealy family home just a few days before Christmas, Dotty and her three middle-aged children gather with so much more than the holidays on their minds. Their anxieties go far beyond finding a suitable blue spruce for the living room: this wild and moving dark comedy, served with a large helping of the crackling humor that only families can incite, grapples with aging parents, midlife crises, and the heart of an inner city neighborhood.

Colman Domingo is the author of Wild with Happy, which has garnered productions at The Public Theater, Center Stage and TheatreWorks, and A Boy and His Soul, which played at The Tricycle Theatre (London), Brisbane Powerhouse (Australia), Vineyard Theatre (New York), and Thick Description (San Francisco), among others.  Domingo has been honored with Olivier, Tony, Drama Desk and Drama League nominations. His work has won him Obie, Lucille Lortel, GLAAD, Connecticut Critics Circle, Bay Area Theater Critics Circle and Internet Theater Bloggers Awards. Domingo has received fellowships and/or residencies from The Sundance  Institute Theatre Lab, People’s Light and Theatre Company, and the Banff Playwrights Colony. His play The Brother(s) will premiere at American Conservatory Theater.

Dot received support from the New York Theatre Workshop Annual Usual Suspects Summer Residency at Dartmouth College. 

I Will Be Gone

by Erin Courtney
directed by Kip Fagan

March 13 – April 12, 2015

in the Bingham Theatre

Seventeen-year-old Penelope goes to live with her Aunt Josephine in a small town in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains after her mom dies.  Everyone in this small town—built right next door to a ghost town—is haunted by something or someone, and no one knows how to behave. Filled with apparitions, earthquakes, and strange attempts to mourn, this play explores the beauty and awkwardness of living with the knowledge that everything ends.

Erin Courtney’s A Map of Virtue was produced by 13P in New York City in 2012. Directed by Ken Rus Schmoll, the play won an Obie Award. She has co-written two musicals with Elizabeth Swados, Kaspar Hauser and The Nomad, both commissioned and produced by The Flea Theater. Ms. Courtney’s other plays include Honey Drop, Black Cat Lost, Alice the Magnet, Quiver and Twitch, and Demon Baby. Her work has been produced and developed by Clubbed Thumb, New York Stage and Film, Playwrights Horizons, Soho Rep., The Vineyard, and The Flea. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.  Courtney is a member of New Dramatists and is an affiliated artist with Clubbed Thumb. She teaches playwriting at Brooklyn College.

I Will Be Gone was workshopped as part of the Creativity Fund, a program of New Dramatists, and was developed with Clubbed Thumb through the Clubbed Thumb Writers’ Group. 

The Glory of the World

by Charles Mee
directed by Les Waters

commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville

March 20 – April 12, 2015

in the Pamela Brown Auditorium

part of the Brown-Forman Series

A series of toasts to Thomas Merton on the occasion of his 100th birthday erupts into a raucous party. Inspired by myriad points of view on the Kentucky-based Trappist monk, writer and social activist—or pacifist, Buddhist, Catholic, Communist, and more, depending on who you ask—Mee’s exuberant play considers how we can live fully in all our contradictions, and leap into the unknown. A wildly theatrical meditation on happiness, love, the values of solitude and of engagement with the world, and seeking heaven on earth.

Charles Mee has written five plays—now six—that have premiered at the Humana

Festival: Big Love, Limonade Tous les Jours, bobrauschenbergamerica, Hotel Cassiopeia, Under Construction, and The Glory of the World. Mee’s plays have been performed at the Signature Theatre, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York Theatre Workshop, The Public Theater, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, American Repertory Theater, and other theatres around the country as well as in Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Vienna, Istanbul and elsewhere. All his plays are available on the Internet at www.charlesmee.org. Among other awards, Mee is the recipient of an Obie and the Lifetime Achievement Award in drama from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Commission supported by the 50th Anniversary NCTF/Ford Foundation Fund for New Work.

The Glory of the World received a workshop at the 2014 Perry-Mansfield New Works Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Actors Theatre of Louisville presents in association with Pig Iron Theatre Company

I Promised Myself to Live Faster

directed by Dan Rothenberg
text by Gregory S Moss and Pig Iron Theatre Company
conceived and created by Pig Iron Theatre Company

March 27 – April 12, 2015

Victor Jory Theatre

Tim’s out trolling for a good time when an order of intergalactic nuns charge him with a quest: retrieve the Holy Gay Flame from the clutches of the evil emperor to save the race of Homosexuals and restore the balance of power in the universe. But when he’s captured by the fabulously androgynous Ah-Ni, Tim’s chances look bleak. Infused with a Charles Ludlam-esque theatricality and a delirious sci-fi sensibility, Live Faster paints a 21st-century allegory of epic proportions. (For mature audiences.)

Pig Iron Theatre Company has been creating original performance works in Philadelphia since 1995, making plays about live music, dead people, neuroscience and thwarted love affairs.  A unique method of performance research and collaborative creation, plus a signature physical approach to character, has led to 29 plays, cabaret-ballets, hoaxes and installations over two decades.  Past collaborations include work with the legendary director Joseph Chaikin, playwright Toshiki Okada, choreographer David Brick, and composer Cynthia Hopkins.  Pig Iron’s work has been presented by FringeArts in Philadelphia, and by theatres and festivals around the world.  The company has won two Obie Awards, a Total Theatre Award, and eight Barrymore Awards.  For more information, visit www.pigiron.org.

Gregory S Moss is a playwright from Newburyport, Massachusetts. His work has been seen at South Coast Repertory, the Guthrie Theater, Ensemble Studio Theatre/Los Angeles, Soho Rep. and Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Moss is a 2012 MacDowell Fellow, a Core Writer with The Playwrights’ Center, a 2010-2011 Jerome Fellow and a 2011-2012 McKnight Fellow. His work is published by Play: A Journal of Playsn+1, Playscripts, and Overlook Press. He’s currently working on a new musical based on the life and work of Hunter S. Thompson for La Jolla Playhouse. He is the Head of the M.F.A. Dramatic Writing program at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Recent productions: Reunion at South Coast Repertory (winner, “Best New Play,” OC Weekly), punkplay at Capital T Theatre (Austin, Texas), and La Brea with Clubbed Thumb (New York City). More information can be found at www.gregorysmoss.com.

Major support for I Promised Myself to Live Faster has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. 

That High Lonesome Sound

by Jeff Augustin, Diana Grisanti, Cory Hinkle, and Charise Castro Smith
directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh
performed by the 2014-2015 Acting Apprentice Company
commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville

March 27 – April 12, 2015

in the Bingham Theatre

Bluegrass has a long and winding history, from Scottish ballads to African-American work songs, from Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys to the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. In a lively theatrical album of scenes created for the Acting Apprentice Company, four writers respond with playfulness and poignancy to the signature sounds, inherited stories, and cultural impact of this very American—and very Kentucky—music tradition.

Jeff Augustin’s play Cry Old Kingdom premiered at the 2013 Humana Festival.  His play Little Children Dream of God will have its world premiere at the Roundabout Theatre Company, where he’s a Playwright-in-Residence. His work has been produced or developed at the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference (Little Children Dream of God), The Ground Floor at Berkeley Repertory Theatre (The Last Tiger in Haiti), American Conservatory Theater (in the crowding darkness), and Western Washington University (Corktown). Augustin is a New York Theatre Workshop 2050 Fellow, a recipient of the Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwriting Award, and a two-time recipient of the Lorraine Hansberry Award. He is under commission from Manhattan Theatre Club and Roundabout. Augustin holds a B.A. from Boston College and an M.F.A. from the University of California, San Diego.

Diana Grisanti’s short play Post Wave Spectacular was produced in the 2010 Humana Festival. Her play River City is midway through a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere at Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte, the Phoenix Theatre (Indianapolis), and Borderlands (Tucson). Her play The Guilt and Anxiety Workshop (formerly INC.) was workshopped during Playwrights’ Week at The Lark and the nuVoices Festival at Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte. She was a Core Apprentice at The Playwrights’ Center, the inaugural recipient of the Marsha Norman Spirit of Achievement Lilly Award, and a runner-up for the Leah Ryan Prize. Her serialized play The Stranger and Ludlow Quinn (co-written with Steve Moulds) was commissioned and produced—in 15-minute installments—by Theatre [502] in Louisville, where she is a Playwright in Residence. Grisanti is an Al Smith Fellow through the Kentucky Arts Council, and a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers at The University of Texas at Austin.

Cory Hinkle co-wrote Fissures (lost and found), which premiered in the 2010 Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville.  His play Little Eyes was produced at the Guthrie Theater in a Workhaus Collective production.  His other plays have been produced or developed at the American Repertory Theater, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Summer Play Festival, New York Theatre Workshop, Ars Nova, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, and The Southern Theater in Minneapolis, among others.  Hinkle is the recipient of a McKnight Advancement Grant, two Jerome Fellowships, and a Jerome Travel and Study Grant, and he is a former MacDowell Colony Fellow.  He is an affiliated writer at The Playwrights’ Center and a member of the Playwrights Union, and he earned his M.F.A. in Playwriting from Brown University.

Charise Castro Smith is a playwright and actor from Miami. Playwriting credits include Feathers and Teeth (The Goodman Theatre’s New Stages), Boomcracklefly (Miracle Theatre Group), The Hunchback of Seville (Brown Trinity Playwrights Rep/Washington Ensemble Theatre), and Estrella Cruz [The Junkyard Queen] (Ars Nova’s ANT Fest/Yale Cabaret). Smith is currently working on commissions from Trinity Repertory Company and Soho Rep. Acting credits include Antony and Cleopatra (Royal Shakespeare Company/Gablestage/The Public Theater), Tartuffe (Westport Country Playhouse), An Enemy of the People (Baltimore Center Stage), The Good Wife, and Unforgettable (CBS).  Smith is an alumna of Ars Nova’s Play Group and a 2012-1013 Van Lier Fellow at New Dramatists. She holds an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama and a B.A. from Brown University.


Rachel WhiteRachel White received her MFA in playwriting from the New School for Drama, and her BA in English and Dramatic from Centre College. Her plays have been produced in New York at The New School, the Midtown International Theatre Festival and the American Globe Theater, in Los Angeles at Moving Arts Productions and the Ensemble Studio Theatre-LA. In Louisville, she has had productions at the Slant Culture Theatre Festival, the Tim Faulkner Gallery, and Finnigan Productions. She is a recipient of the Litwin Foundation

Fellowship in Playwriting, and was recently a semi-finalist in the Labute New Theater Festival. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, and the Playwrights Gallery in New York.