Actors Theatre of Louisville announced today that Lucas Hnath will premiere his new play “The Christians” in the 2014 Humana Festival of New American Plays. The play was commissioned by Actors Theatre and will be directed by artistic director Les Waters.
“The Christians” is about an American megachurch pastor as he prepares to deliver a sermon that will challenge the foundations of his congregation’s beliefs. Hnath, who told the Washington Post last month that he grew up in Orlando attending an evangelical megachurch, says in a statement released by Actors Theatre that he’s “been avoiding writing this play for about ten years.”
“When Les Waters commissioned me to write a new play, it seemed that I ought to write my most ambitious play, totally go for broke,” he says in the statement. “And so I’ve written ‘The Christians’ in an attempt to take on the subject of faith without irony and without preaching to any choir.”
Hnath is no stranger to Actors Theatre — his short play “The Courtship of Anna Nicole Smith” was produced by the acting apprentice company in 2010, and in 2012 he made his full-length professional debut in the Humana Festival with “Death Tax,” which won a Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award Citation. Last year, his tense astronaut one-act “nightnight” was part of “Sleep Rock Thy Brain,” the innovative, high-flying apprentice showcase about the brain science of sleep.
Hnath’s had a great year so far. His career took off after his Humana Festival debut, and many productions came to the stage in 2013 as a result. His athletic doping play “Red Speedo” just premiered at Washington, D.C.’s Studio Theatre, and Manhattan’s Soho Rep produced “A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney” in May. Earlier in the year, New York’s Ensemble Studio Theatre opened “Isaac’s Eye,” a play about young Isaac Newton.