Arts and Culture Local News

Actors Theatre of Louisville has announced the lineup for next year’s Humana Festival of New American Plays. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

The 2009 festival has plays that have local appeal, including works based on Louisville’s Rubbertown and the writing of Kentucky author Wendell Berry.

But Actors Theatre artistic director Marc Masterson says the festival includes plays with a range of topics and theatrical styles. For example, poetry is woven into the structures of two different plays: “Wild Blessings,” the play showcasing Berry’s writing, and “Ameriville.”

“It’s poetry-based performance,” Masterson says of “Ameriville.” “It comes from an African-American esthetic, but Wendell Berry’s going to be a poetry-based performance including music based on the words and the voice of a particular writer. And you wouldn’t call Wendell Berry hip hop.”

The 2009 festival also features vetran playwrights Naomi Wallace, whose commissioned work is based on Rubbertown, and Charles Mee, whose “Under Construction” will be directed by Anne Bogart. Masterson says these artists are ones who “consider [Actors Theatre] to be their artistic home.”

“And at the same time,” he says, “it’s very important that we continue to introduce new voices into the canon and new works from artists who don’t have relationships with us.”

One newcomer is Zoe Kazan, who has earned her reputation as an actress on Broadway and is also the granddaughter of film and theater director Elia Kazan. Masterson says her play, “Absalom,” draws on some of Zoe Kazan’s own experiences.

“I think one of the subjects of this particular play is the dangers of growing up in a family of writers and what happens when you see your laundry aired for the public,” he says.

The festival opens March 1.