There’s only one problem with the bounty that is the Humana Festival: It’s hard to find time to see any of the other worthwhile theater happening in town.
I’m not suggesting that all the other theater companies in Louisville take a break during Humana, but whew — my calendar is looking pretty crowded. (I know, embarrassment of riches.)
There’s a new play by Pulitzer-prize-nominated writer Sarah Ruhl in this year’s Humana Festival (see Ashlie Stevens’ review here), and you also can see one of her very first works this weekend and next. “Melancholy Play: A Contemporary Farce” (premiered in 2002) is running at the Henry Clay Theatre in a production by the Liminal Playhouse. (Disclosure: WFPL news producer Laura Ellis is part of the cast.) This is the inaugural season for the company, and they’re making interesting choices so far.
A young scientist goes home to Appalachia to visit his parents and ask for their help — then discovers they’ve both become meth addicts. This is the premise of “Qualities of Starlight,” which is getting its Louisville premiere this weekend by Theatre  at the Parkside Studio at Iroquois Amphitheater. The play’s author, Gabriel Jason Dean, is on the faculty at Spalding University’s MFA in Creative Writing program. I had the opportunity to read the script a couple years back, and I’m looking forward to seeing what this company does with it onstage.
A favorite book of both my young children is “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” in which a pajama-clad kid creates imaginary worlds with his purple crayon. StageOne Family Theatre is presenting a brand-new adaptation that heavily features technology: each audience member will get their own tablet computer that they can draw on during the show, and their drawings will be projected onstage as part of the scenery. There’s original music by Kentucky-based composer and cellist Ben Sollee, too. (Public performances are March 26 and April 2.)
There’s also another opportunity to see “Harold” this weekend, as part of Louisville’s first-ever Cultural Accessibility Summit, taking place at the Kentucky Center on Saturday. Marking the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, participants will discuss ways to make the arts more available to those with disabilities. A sensory-friendly performance of “Harold,” demonstrating caption theater and audio description, rounds out the day.
We have such a wealth of arts opportunities in this town — this weekend being a perfect example — but it’s good to remember that some people need a little extra help to take full advantage of them.