Larry Bull & Jordan Baker in the Humana Festival production of “Appropriate.” Woolly Mammoth’s production of the play will open in November.
When it was founded in 1976, The Humana Festival of New American Plays was unique: It was a centralized showcase of new work from playwrights around the country. Decades later, new play development is no longer consolidated in a single spot, but the festival continues to a enjoy a reputation as a major platform for plays their authors hope will ripple out to stages of every size in the years to come.
I’d never been to Humana, so I was excited by an invitation to Louisville to cover the festival’s closing “industry weekend” with 11 other journalists from around the country, including my pal Michael Phillips, as part of a “pop-up newsroom” called Engine 31. This year’s six-play lineup was the first curated by Obie Award-winning British director Les Waters, who has earned a reputation as a midwife for important new plays by directing premieres from heavy hitters like Sarah Ruhl, Caryl Churchill, and Anne Washburn. The slate Waters programmed featured six new plays. Of the four that I saw, three were sufficiently intriguing to make me want to revisit them. Continue reading
Tomorrow morning I will fly to Louisville, Kentucky to help cover the final, three-day “industry weekend” of the Humana Festival for New American Plays as part of Engine 31, a pop-up newsroom. (Sasha Anawalt, the “motherfucker who found[ed] this place — Sir”*, answers your eminently reasonable questions about what that is and who pays for it here; thank you for asking.) I’m excited to be a part of it, and to see and work with my old friends Sasha, Michael Phillips, Rebecca Haithcoat and Doug McLennan. And nearly as excited to meet the other seven journalists who’re part of this thing. Follow along at Engine 31, and/or via Twitter @enginethirtyone.
I am reliably informed there will also be some basketball thing happening.
*Sasha is not actually an actual motherfucker; she is in fact delightful. I am merely quoting Jessica Chastain’s character from the movie Zero Dark Thirty here, as is only sensible and appropriate when discussing a theater festival. Engine 31 contributor Michael Phillips, whose name I used as a substitute for “motherfucker” on the radio once but who is also not one, usually, called ZDT the best film of 2012, so context.