Playwright Hansol Jung, author of Cardboard Piano, which will premiere at the 4oth Humana Festival.

Actors Theatre of Louisville Announces the Line-up for the 40th Humana Festival

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One of the under-appreciated aspects of the beginning of the year-end holiday period is that it brings the announcement of the line-up for the coming year’s Humana Festival of New American Plays. For the Louisville community, it is certainly a reason to give thanks, and a highlight of the cultural calendar for theatergoers, artists and industry professionals across the country, the Humana Festival runs March 2 through April 10, 2016.

The 40th Humana Festival of New American Plays will feature six world premieres, including (in order of opening):

  • Residence by Laura Jacqmin
  • For Peter Pan on her 70thbirthday by Sarah Ruhl
  • This Random Worldby Steven Dietz
  • Wellesley Girl by Brendan Pelsue
  • Wondrous Strange by Martyna Majok, Meg Miroshnik, Jiehae Park and Jen Silverman
  • Cardboard Piano by Hansol Jung

In addition, a bill of three ten-minute plays will also premiere as part of the scheduled lineup. Ten-minute plays and playwrights will be announced in February 2016. For more information on individual plays, see below.

“Actors Theatre is delighted to be producing these exciting new plays and showcasing some of the country’s brightest playwrights,” said Les Waters, Actors Theatre’s Artistic Director. “I believe that the Humana Festival represents the future of theatre, and I think that our writers define the world we live in now.”

For four decades, Actors Theatre of Louisville has been a driving force in new play development, introducing nearly 450 plays into the American and international theatre’s general repertoire and representing the work of more than 370 playwrights. 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. In the 2014 Humana Festival, Actors Theatre commissioned and premiered Lucas Hnath’s The Christians, which recently closed an acclaimed run at Playwrights Horizons in New York and opens in Los Angeles at the Mark Taper Forum in December. In addition, The Glory of the World by Charles Mee—another Actors Theatre commission, which premiered during the 2015 Humana Festival—will transfer to BAM in New York in January, 2016.

Managing Director Jennifer Bielstein underscores the importance of Humana’s role: “We are  grateful for our longstanding partnership with the Humana Foundation, whose commitment to supporting artistic innovation ensures that theatre continues to play a vital role in a thriving society here in Louisville, across the region and around the globe.” 

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 2016 Humana Festival schedule also offers weekend packages for out-of-town guests, a weekend of enrichment events for college students, and features special weekends for industry professionals, which include networking opportunities, discussions, and parties—making Louisville the place to be in American theatre this spring.

Weekend packages and single tickets for the 2016 Humana Festival of New American Plays will go on sale to the public beginning Wednesday, November 18. Actors Theatre’s Season Ticket Holders can access single tickets and package add-ons during a special pre-sale on Tuesday, November 17.  For more information, please visit or call 502.584.1205. For Festival Ticket Package reservations, please call 502.561.3344.

Detailed information about each of the plays in the 40th Humana Festival of New American Plays follows:

by Laura Jacqmin
directed by Hal Brooks

March 2 – April 10, 2016
in the Bingham Theatre

New mom Maggie returns to her medical sales job, checking into an extended-stay hotel in Arizona as she pursues the commission that will get her out of debt and back on track. When she befriends two hotel employees intent on making her visit a five-star experience, they discover that their lives are all on similarly shaky ground. A funny and sharply observed play about hanging on when you’re at the end of your rope, and the times when letting go might be the most responsible thing to do.

Laura Jacqmin is a Chicago-based playwright, TV writer, and video game writer, originally from Cleveland. At Actors Theatre: Hero Dad. Regional: January Joiner (Long Wharf Theatre); Ski Dubai (Steppenwolf Theatre); Dental Society Midwinter Meeting(Williamstown Theatre Festival, 16th Street Theater, Chicago Dramatists/At Play). Other theatre: A Third (Finborough Theatre, London); LookWe Are Breathing (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Sundance Institute Theatre Lab); Do-Gooder (16th Street Theater); Ghost Bike(Buzz22 Chicago), and more. Jacqmin is the recipient of the Wasserstein Prize, two National Endowment for the Arts Art Works grants, The Kennedy Center’s David Mark Cohen Playwriting Award, two MacDowell Fellowships, and an Illinois Arts Council Individual Artist Grant. Television: Grace and Frankie (Netflix); Lucky 7 (ABC). Video games:Minecraft: Story Mode (Telltale Games). Jacqmin is a founding member of The Kilroys and holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.F.A. from Ohio University.

Residence was developed by the Cape Cod Theatre Project.

For Peter Pan on her 70th birthday

by Sarah Ruhl
directed by Les Waters

commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville

March 8 – April 10, 2016
in the Pamela Brown Auditorium

When she was a girl, Ann played Peter Pan at the children’s theatre in Iowa, and her father paused his doctor’s rounds to bring her flowers. Now, she and her four siblings gather to say goodbye to their dying father, stirring up childhood memories. They argue about politics, tell jokes, and wonder what it might mean to grow up. Ruhl’s play is a love letter to a large family contending with the inexorable march of time and the allure of Neverland.

Sarah Ruhl’s plays include The Oldest Boy; In the Next Room, or the vibrator play; The Clean House; Passion Play; Dead Man’s Cell Phone; Melancholy PlayEurydiceOrlandoLate: a cowboy songDear Elizabeth; and Stage Kiss. Select regional credits: Yale Repertory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and the Goodman Theatre. Broadway: Lyceum Theatre by Lincoln Center Theater (In the Next Room, or the vibrator play). Off-Broadway: Women’s Project, Playwrights Horizons, Second Stage, and Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater. Awards: the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the Whiting Award, the Lilly Award, a PEN Award, and the MacArthur Foundation “genius” award. She has been a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and a Tony Award nominee. Her book of essays, 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write, was published by Faber and Faber last fall.

Development of For Peter Pan on her 70th birthday is supported by a generous gift from Emily Bingham and Stephen Reily. The play is a recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award.

This Random World

by Steven Dietz
directed by Meredith McDonough

March 11 – April 10, 2016
in the Bingham Theatre

We want to believe that serendipity brings us together, but is that just a myth? Mining the comedy of missed connections, This Random World asks the serious question of how often we travel parallel paths through the world without noticing. From an ailing woman who plans one final trip, to her daughter planning one great escape and her son falling prey to a prank gone wrong, this funny, intimate, and heartbreaking play explores the lives that may be happening just out of reach of our own.

Steven Dietz’s credits at Actors Theatre include: Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure; The Spot (2004 Humana Festival); Private Eyes (1997 Humana Festival, also as director);Home and Away (director); God’s Country (1989 Humana Festival, also as director) and T Bone N Weasel (1987 Humana Festival, as director). Regional credits: Over 100 productions of 30+ plays, including BloomsdayBecky’s New CarOn Clover Road, Rancho Mirage,Yankee TavernLast of the BoysJackie & MeShooting StarInventing van GoghLonely PlanetThe Nina Variations, and Still Life with Iris. Off-Broadway: Fiction at Roundabout Theatre Company; Lonely Planet at Circle Repertory Company. Other: International productions in 20+ countries. Awards: Pen USA West Award, Lonely Planet; Edgar Award for Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure; Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award for Fiction and Still Life with Iris.

This Random World received developmental support from The New Harmony Project (New Harmony, IN); Riverside Theatre (Iowa City, IA); and the Florida Atlantic Theatre Lab (Boca Raton, FL).

Wellesley Girl

by Brendan Pelsue
directed by Lee Sunday Evans

March 18 – April 10, 2016
in the Pamela Brown Auditorium

It’s 2465. American politics haven’t changed much. Except that “America” is now only a handful of New England towns in a walled-in citadel. When an unidentified army encamps at the border, Congress struggles to move beyond personal agendas and petty bickering over procedure to decide the nation’s fate. With canny humor and wicked intelligence, Wellesley Girl exposes an unsettling truth: sometimes all you can do is flip a coin and hope that history proves you right.

Brendan Pelsue’s Actors Theatre credits include Edge Play and Cabin Fever (Apprentice/Intern Tens). Other theatre: Hagoromo, Brooklyn Academy of Music; Parking Lot, Riverbank, and Varieties of Religious Experience (upcoming) at Yale School of Drama; Read to Me (workshop), Bay Area Playwrights Festival; Ecology of a Visit, Corkscrew Theater Company; Petra and the Saints, Telephonic Literary Union; Diagram of a Kidnapping, Brown University New Plays Festival; and Millyard, MA, Firehouse Center for the Arts. Pelsue holds a B.A. from Brown University and is an M.F.A. student at Yale School of Drama.

Cardboard Piano

by Hansol Jung
directed by Leigh Silverman

March 25 – April 10, 2016
in the Victor Jory Theatre

On the eve of the millennium in Northern Uganda, the daughter of an American missionary and a local teenage girl steal into a candlelit church to exchange vows in a secret wedding ceremony. But when an escalating civil war encroaches on their fragile union, they cannot escape its reach. Confronting the cost of intolerance, this powerful drama examines violence and the struggle to rebuild in its wake, as well as the human capacity for love and forgiveness.

Hansol Jung is a playwright and director from South Korea. Regional theatre credits include No More Sad Things (co-world premiere at Sideshow Theatre, Chicago and Boise Contemporary Theater). Commissions include a translation of Romeo and Juliet for the Play On! project at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Fellowships and residencies: 2050 Fellowship at New York Theatre Workshop, Sundance Institute Playwrights Retreat at Ucross, MacDowell Colony Artist Residency, International Playwrights Residency at the Royal Court (London), Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Ground Floor, O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Rita Goldberg Fellow at the Lark, Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, and OD Musical Theater Company (Seoul). Jung holds an M.F.A. in playwriting from Yale School of Drama, and is a proud member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab.

Cardboard Piano was developed during a residency at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference in 2015.

Wondrous Strange

by Martyna Majok, Meg Miroshnik, Jiehae Park, and Jen Silverman
directed by Marti Lyons

performed by the 2015-2016 Acting Apprentice Company
commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville

March 25 – April 10, 2016
in the Bingham Theatre

What haunts us? What traces will we in turn leave behind? Writing for this season’s Acting Apprentice Company, four imaginative playwrights use Kentucky’s rich ghost lore as the springboard for a wide-ranging exploration of the supernatural and uncanny, and what our stories about ghosts—chilling, poignant, or unexpectedly funny—reveal about us.

Martyna Majok’s plays have been presented at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater/Women’s Project Theater, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Round House Theatre, among others. Awards include the David Calicchio Emerging American Playwright Prize, New York Theatre Workshop’s 2050 Fellowship, Global Age Project Prize, Jane Chambers Student Feminist Playwriting Prize, and the National New Play Network/Smith Prize for Political Playwriting. Majok has received commissions from Marin Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, The New Yorker website, and The Foundry Theatre. Majok has a B.A. from the University of Chicago and an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama. She is currently a playwriting fellow at The Juilliard School and an alumna of Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Youngblood. Majok is a member of Women’s Project Lab, The Dramatists Guild, Ars Nova’s Uncharted, and New York Theatre Workshop’s Usual Suspects. She is the 2015-2016 PoNY Fellow at the Lark Play Development Center.

Meg Miroshnik’ s plays include The Fairytale Lives of Russian GirlsThe DrollThe Tall GirlsLady Tattoo, and an adaptation of the libretto for Shostakovich’s Moscow, Cheryomushki. Her work has been produced and developed by Yale Repertory Theatre, Alliance Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Cleveland Play House, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Center Theatre Group, South Coast Repertory, McCarter Theatre Center, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Lark Play Development Center, Chicago Opera Theater, Washington Ensemble Theatre, and others. Awards: Whiting Award, Susan Smith Blackburn finalist, Alliance/Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Award. Commissions: South Coast Repertory, Steppenwolf, and Yale Repertory. She is a Core Writer at the Playwrights’ Center. Miroshnik holds an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama, where she studied under Paula Vogel. She grew up in Minneapolis and currently lives in Los Angeles, where she is a founding member of The Kilroys.

Jiehae Park’s playwriting credits include Peerless (Yale Repertory, world premiere; Cherry Lane Mentor Project, workshop production). Awards: Princess Grace, Leah Ryan Award. Development: Playwrights Horizons (currently commissioned), Soho Rep.’s Writer/Director Lab, Berkeley Repertory’s Ground Floor, The Public Theater’s 2015 Emerging Writers Group, New York Theatre Workshop, Dramatists Guild Fellowship, Ojai Playwrights Conference, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, 52nd Street Project, 24 Hour Plays on Broadway, and the Ma-Yi Writers Lab. Residencies include MacDowell, Yaddo, Hedgebrook, and the McCarter Theatre’s Sallie B. Goodman Artists’ Retreat. As a performer, Park’s credits include La Jolla Playhouse, Studio Theatre, REDCAT, A Collection of Shiny Objects, Tiny Little Band, and Ripe Time/The Play Company (upcoming, February 2016). Park holds a B.A. from Amherst College and an M.F.A. from the University of California, San Diego.

Jen Silverman is a New York-based playwright. At Actors Theatre of Louisville, she premiered The Roommate (2015 Humana Festival). Other plays include The Moors (Yale Repertory Theatre), Crane Story (Off-Broadway, The Playwrights Realm), and Phoebe in Winter, produced Off-Broadway by The Playwrights Realm and Off-Off Broadway by Clubbed Thumb. She is a member of New Dramatists, and has developed work at the O’Neill, PlayPenn, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Williamstown Theatre Festival, New York Theatre Workshop, Portland Center Stage, The New Harmony Project, and the Royal Court in London, among other places. The Hunters was selected for the Cherry Lane Mentor Project (mentor: Lynn Nottage), and Still won the Yale Drama Series Award. She is the recipient of the 2015 Helen Merrill Fund Award as an emerging playwright. Silverman attended Brown University, the Iowa Playwrights Workshop and Juilliard.


The Humana Festival of New American Plays
The Humana Festival is an internationally acclaimed event that has introduced nearly 450 plays into the American and international theatre’s general repertoire, including three Pulitzer Prize winners—The Gin Game by D. L. Coburn, Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley, and Dinner with Friends by Donald Margulies—as well as Marsha Norman’s Getting Out, John Pielmeier’s Agnes of God, Charles Mee’s Big Love and The Glory of the World, Naomi Iizuka’s Polaroid Stories and At the Vanishing Point, Jane Martin’s Anton in Show Business, Rinne Groff’s The Ruby Sunrise, Theresa Rebeck’s The Scene, Gina Gionfriddo’sAfter Ashley and Becky Shaw, UNIVERSES’ Ameriville, Rude Mechs’ The Method Gun, Jordan Harrison’s Maple and Vine, Will Eno’s Gnit, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Appropriate, and Lucas Hnath’s Death Tax and The Christians.  More than 380 Humana Festival plays have been published in anthologies and individual acting editions, making Actors Theatre a visible and vital force in the development of new plays.