The Humana Festival is to the theatre world what Fashion week is to...fashion.
Perhaps you take it for granted. Perhaps you don’t know what all the hubbub is about. Perhaps you’ve never even heard of it.
But while most Louisvillians are keeping up with the ‘Cats and the ‘Cards, the Louisville theatre community is preparing for the biggest month of the year.
The fact is, the Humana Festival is to the theatre world what Fashion Week is to well, fashion.
The Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre is the “look-to” for up and coming plays, playwrights and designers. It was at Humana that Beth Henley’s Crimes of the Heart and Donald Margulies’ Dinner with Friends both got their starts…before going on to win Pulitzer Prizes.
And there have been other notable notables too. Humana alumni include Joyce Carol Oates (Tone Clusters), Lanford Wilson (Eukiah), Susan Miller (My Left Breast), Jane Martin (Keely and Du), Naomi Wallace (One Flea Spare), Wendy Kesselman (My Sister in this House) and Lee Blessing (Great Falls).
Humana Festival plays have been published, turned into films, won slews of awards, and have gone on to be produced numerous times across the country.
In fact, a play (or playwright) that is successful at Humana is likely to enjoy a respected, and sometimes even lucrative, career.
The Festival is not just for locals. Last year alone, nearly 40,000 people attended a Humana Festival performance, representing more than 32 states and several countries.
Want to be a part of history in the making? Actors Theatre sells tickets to individual performances, starting at $20. But this year, they’ve made the Festival more accessible for local folks.
The Humana Festival Locals Pass includes access to 5 of the main productions, 50% off tickets to additional productions, priority placement in the Extra Seat Pass Line, and two vouchers good for any of the public panel discussions. Locals passes are $75.
All tickets can be purchased online
or by calling the Actors Theatre box office at (502) 584-1205
Free Events Scheduled
Without a doubt, the biggest parts of the Humana Festival are the new plays. But also important to Actors Theatre are the conversations that go along with them. To this end, Actors sponsors several free events that are open to the public, including:
- Saturday, March 2, 6pm: Humana Festival Open House
- Saturday, March 2, 7pm: Behind the Scenes Tech Event for Appropriate (free, but ticketed)
- Saturday, March 5, 11:30am: “Play with your Food” luncheon: a conversation on The Delling Shore (free; box lunch $10)
- Tuesday, March 12, 7pm: Behind the Scenes Tech Event for Gnit (free, but ticketed)
- Saturday, March 23, 10:30am: Festival Conversation: Aim High with Artistic Director Les Waters and Associate Artistic Director Meredith McDonough (free, but ticketed)
- Saturday, March 30, 10am: Festival Conversation: The Playwright as Teacher and Student with Paula Vogel (playwright and professor at Yale University) and other distinguished playwrights (free, but ticketed)
- Saturday, March 30, 10pm: Humana Festival Soiree at Hillbilly Tea (120 S. 1st St.): a casual opportunity to mingle with members of the theatre industry
- Friday, April 5, 1pm: Festival Conversation: In Dialogue: Sarah Ruhl and Will Eno, internationally produced playwrights (free, but ticketed)
Complimentary tickets can be reserved by calling the box office at (502) 584-1205.
Performances for this year’s Humana Festival of New American Plays run at various dates and times from February 27-April 7. Descriptions courtesy of Actors Theatre.
The Delling Shore by Sam Marks, opening February 27
“Over the course of one fraught evening at a country lake house, two feuding novelists confront their professional jealousies—and their personal failures—as their daughters are caught in the fray.”
Appropriate by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, opening March 5
“When three siblings descend upon a former plantation to liquidate their dead father’s estate, a disturbing discovery among his possessions brings a heated family reunion to an outright boil. A play about family secrets, memory loss, and the art of repression.”
Cry Old Kingdom by Jeff Augustin, opening March 8
“Haiti, 1964. When an artist in hiding persuades a young man to pose for a painting, he feels alive for the first time in years. But under a repressive regime, with revolution brewing, no one’s life is safe.”
Gnit by Will Eno, opening March 15
“Watch as Peter Gnit, a funny-enough, but so-so specimen of humanity, makes a lifetime of bad decisions in the search for his True Self.”
O Guru Guru Guru, or why I don’t want to go to yoga class with you by Mallery Avidon, opening March 20
“Lila grew up in an Ashram, but she does not want to go to yoga class with you. A disarming look at the precarious process of becoming yourself.”
Sleep Rock Thy Brain
by three Actors Theatre alumni; Rinne Groff, Lucas Hnath (2012 Humana Festival playwright of Death Tax
) and Anne Washburn (2011 Humana Festival) opening March 22
This production is performed by the Acting Apprentice Company at the Lincoln Performing Arts School. It was commissioned and developed by Actors Theatre, and conceived by Amy Attaway and Sara Lunnie. It will include aerial performances as the production explores the science of the sleeping brain.
The Humana Festival of New American Plays is made possible by a long-standing relationship with the Humana Foundation, which first sponsored the festival in 1980, and has supported it continuously since then, with contributions nearing $20 million.
This year, Actors Theatre also received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for $50,000 to support the 37th Humana Festival.
The 37th annual Humana Festival of New American Plays runs February 27-April 7. More information, including information on discounted parking rates, can be found on the Actors Theatre website
or by calling (502) 584-1205.