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November 13th, 2011 By Rick Pender | Arts & Culture | Posted In: Theater

Actors Theatre Is Ready for Humana Festival No. 36

Here comes the big annual dose of new American plays

humana 36 posterThe poster for the 2012 Humana Festival

The 36th annual Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville is set for Feb. 26 through April 1, 2012. The theater today announced the line-up of full-length works. (A bill of three ten-minute plays will be announced at a later date.) Here’s what’s in store for the festival that the theater world looks to every year for the hottest new plays and playwrights. (Maple and Vine by Jordan Harrison from the 2011 festival is getting rave reviews at Chicago’s Next Theatre Company and is about to open at Playwrights Horizons in New York City.)

There will be, as usual, six full-length productions (listed here with the blurbs about them provided by Actors Theatre):

The Ver**on Play by Lisa Kron: When Jenni called customer service, all she wanted was to fix a minor problem with her cell phone bill. Instead she was sucked into a vortex of unimaginable horror. Now she wants revenge — or to get her cell phone service turned back on. Part thriller, part screwball comedy, part inspired by events that have undoubtedly happened to you. Kron’s play Well received two Tony Award nominations in 2006.

How We Got On by Idris Goodwin: Hank, Julian and Luann are the flip side to the A story of hip hop’s rise in the late 1980s — kids who forge a cultural identity in the white suburbs by dueling with poetry in parking lots and dubbing beats on a boom box. In this coming-of-age tale remixed, A DJ loops us through the lives of three Midwestern teen rappers who discover the power of harmony over discord. Goodwin, a playwright, poet, essayist and Hip Hop performer, developed this play at the 2011 National Playwrights Conference and the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.

The Hour of Feeling by Mona Mansour: It’s 1967 and the map of the Middle East is about to change drastically. Fueled by a love of English Romantic poetry, Adham journeys from Palestine to London with his new wife, Abir, to deliver a career-defining lecture. As the young couple’s marriage is tested, Adham struggles to reconcile his ambitions with the pull of family and home. But what if seizing the moment means letting go of everything he knows? Mansour’s works have been presented at the Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop NYC Fringe Festival and others; this is her first production at the Humana Festival.

Eat Your Heart Out by Courtney Baron: Alice and Gabe are desperate to adopt a child. Nance, a single mom just starting to date, struggles to connect with her teenage daughter Evie. And Evie wishes her best friend Colin could fall for her rather than just trying to fix things. With both humor and aching insight, these lives are woven together in a tale of parental hopes and fears, and of hearts consumed by longing. Baron’s short play, The Blue Room received the Heideman Award from Actors Theatre in 1999 and was produced as part of Life Under 30 in the 1999 Humana Festival.

Death Tax by Lucas Hnath: Maxine is rich. Maxine is dying. Maxine thinks Nurse Tina is trying to kill her. When the patient confronts her caretaker, her accusations have unforeseen — and irrevocable — consequences, in this tightly-wound thriller about money, power and the value of a human life. Hnath is a two-time winner of Sloan Foundation grants for several feature-length screenplays; this is his first Humana Festival production.

Michael von Siebenburg Melts Through the Floorboards by Greg Kotis: Meet Baron Michael von Siebenburg: a 500-year-old Austrian bachelor living in an American city, whose secret of eternal youth involves endless first dates and a special meat tenderizer. But when his landlady gets suspicious and the ghost of a medieval comrade commands him to take Constantinople back from the Turks, Michael finds himself haunted by past and present. A hilariously dark comedy about the rigors of vampiric immortality. Kotis won two 2002 Tony Awards and an Obie for his book and lyrics for Urinetown: The Musical.

The festival has a 11-year tradition of commissioning a set of writers to create a set of short scenes that are focused on a theme and performed by the 22 young actors comprising the theater’s Acting Apprentice Company. This year’s title is Oh, Gastronomy! About the pleasures and paradoxes of food, that most delicious human unifier. Rife with contradiction, food can imply nourishment and deprivation, make your mouth water and your stomach turn. This year’s writers are Michael Golamco, Steve Moulds, Tanya Saracho, Matt Schatz and Carson Kreitzer, whose Behind the Eye was a memorable production at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park back in April.

For more information about the 36th Annual Humana Festival of New American Plays: ActorsTheatre.org

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