Arts and Culture

Tuesday morning, Actors Theatre announced the lineup for the 2017 Humana Festival of New American Plays. It’s an annual celebration of new theater that has introduced nearly 450 plays into the American and international theater’s general repertoire (including three Pulitzer Prize winners).

The festival will take place March 1 through April 9, 2017. Tickets go on sale Wednesday, November 16. In the meantime, here’s what you can expect from the upcoming festival:

‘I Now Pronounce’

Playwright Tasha Gordon-Solmon — whose plays have been produced previously at Actors during the 2016 Humana Festival “Ten-Minute Plays” and The Professional Training Company’s “The Tens” — will open the 2017 Humana Festival with her latest work, “I Now Pronounce.”

The tagline itself is enough to hook any theater-lover: “Comedies end in marriage. Tragedies end in death. This play begins with both.” As such, the play opens on a wedding that has coincided with an awkwardly-timed fatality, but the reception festivities just keep going — leaving the bride and groom wondering what exactly they are celebrating.

‘We’re Gonna Be Okay’

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, two average American families build a slapdash bomb shelter on their shared property line. Their big question: Is this the end? The end of baseball? Table manners? Macramé?

Playwright Basil Kreimendahl’s “We’re Gonna Be Okay” is a slyly compassionate look at anxiety in America.

‘Cry It Out’

Molly Smith Metzler’s “Cry It Out” takes a darkly humorous look at the feelings associated with new motherhood, the struggle of returning to work, and how socioeconomic class affects both those realities.

The play opens on new mom Jessie; she’s on maternity leave and starved for conversation. During nap time one day, she decides to invite her neighbor Lina to have coffee with her on the patio situated between their duplexes. Despite their vastly different finances, they become fast friends — all while someone watches from the mansion on the cliff overlooking Jessie’s yard.

‘Recent Alien Abductions’

In Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas’ “Recent Alien Abductions,” we open on Álvaro, who is searching for a lost episode of “The X-Files” that he swears has been mysteriously altered since its original broadcast. Spoiler alert: Nobody believes him, though he wonders if the missing episode is proof of a larger conspiracy.

Years later, when a friend arrives in Puerto Rico hoping to preserve Álvaro’s stories, she must face the family from whom he vanished long ago. It’s a darkly compelling tale about the danger of having no one to trust — and how families, and nations, keep circling the places that haunt them.

‘Airness’

When Nina enters her first air guitar competition, she thinks winning will be easy. But as she befriends a group of charismatic nerds all committed to becoming the next champion, she discovers that there’s more to this art form than playing pretend; it’s about finding yourself in your favorite songs, and performing with raw joy.

Chelsea Marcante’s “Airness” is an exuberant reminder that everything we need to rock is already inside us.

‘The Many Deaths of Nathan Stubblefield’

Written for the 20 actors in this season’s Professional Training Company, four playwrights — Jeff Augustin, Sarah DeLappe, Claire Kiechel and Ramiz Monsef — use “The Many Deaths of Nathan Stubblefield” to boldly celebrate unsung dreamers, unlikely breakthroughs, and the beauty (and occasional hilarity) of failure.

The mysterious demise of a Kentucky inventor — and other stories of visionaries from the Bluegrass State — inspire this play that explores the nature of innovation.

More information about the 2017 Humana Festival can be found here.