About the Humana Festival of New American Plays
Now celebrating its 40th season, the Humana Festival is an internationally acclaimed event that has introduced nearly 450 plays into the American and international theatre’s general repertoire, including full-lengths, one-acts, monologues, T(ext) shirt, phone plays and car plays, representing the work of more than 370 playwrights. Plays premiered at the Festival include three Pulitzer Prize winners—The Gin Game by D. L. Coburn, Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley and Dinner with Friends by Donald Margulies—as well as Marsha Norman’s Getting Out, John Pielmeier’s Agnes of God, Charles Mee’s Big Love, Naomi Iizuka’s Polaroid Stories and At the Vanishing Point, Jane Martin’s Anton in Show Business, Rinne Groff’s The Ruby Sunrise, Theresa Rebeck’s The Scene, Gina Gionfriddo’s After Ashley and Becky Shaw, UNIVERSES’ Ameriville, Rude Mechs’ The Method Gun, Jordan Harrison’s Maple and Vine, Will Eno’s Gnit, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Appropriate, and Lucas Hnath’s Death Tax and The Christians. In addition, more than 380 Humana Festival plays have been published in anthologies and individual acting editions, making Actors Theatre a visible and vital force in the development of new plays.
The first ever new play Festival was created by Actors Theatre’s former Producing Director Jon Jory in 1976. Actors Theatre hosted its first Festival of New American Plays, named PLAY FAIRE, March 2-22, 1977. The Festival featured two plays: Indulgences in the Louisville Harem by John Orlock and The Gin Game by D.L. Coburn. The Gin Game would later open on Broadway the following year with Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn and directed by Mike Nichols, and won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1978.
Six Humana Festival plays have won the OBIE Award: Appropriate by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Big Love by Charles Mee, Slavs! by Tony Kushner, My Left Breast by Susan Miller, Marisol by José Rivera and One Flea Spare by Naomi Wallace.
Three Humana Festival plays have won the Pulitzer Prize: D. L. Coburn’s The Gin Game, Beth Henley’s Crimes of the Heart and Donald Margulies’ Dinner With Friends.
Keely and Du by Jane Martin and Omnium-Gatherum by Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros and Theresa Rebeck, and Becky Shaw by Gina Gionfriddo were Pulizer Prize finalists.
Five Humana Festival plays have won the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize: How to Say Goodbye by Mary Gallagher, My Sister in this House by Wendy Kesselman, A Narrow Bed by Ellen McLaughlin, My Left Breast by Susan Miller and One Flea Spare by Naomi Wallace. Nine others have been finalists.
Naomi Iizuka’s Polaroid Stories won the Pen Center USA West Award and Bridget Carpenter’s The Faculty Room won the Kesselring Prize for playwriting.
Eight Humana Festival plays have won the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award: 2 by Romulus Linney, Dinner With Friends by Donald Margulies, Talking With by Jane Martin, Keely and Du by Jane Martin, Jack and Jill by Jane Martin, Getting Out by Marsha Norman, Anton in Show Business by Jane Martin, and Great Falls by Lee Blessing.
The Humana Festival is the premier event of its kind in the nation, drawing theatre lovers, journalists, and film and stage producers from around the world. About 36,000 patrons attend the five weeks of plays and associated events, including students from 40 colleges and universities. The Festival culminates in two industry weekends which bring together a collection of amazing new plays with one-of-a-kind panels, cocktail parties, discussions and networking events. It is the perfect opportunity to see new work, make new connections, and support the creation of new American theatre.
The Humana Festival of New American Plays is made possible by the generosity of the Humana Foundation. The Humana Foundation’s support of the Festival began in 1979 and represents the longest continuous partnership between a theatre and a corporation in the country today. In 1982, the festival was renamed the Humana Festival of New American Plays in honor of the Louisville-based company’s ongoing and generous support.
Since its inception, the Humana Foundation has placed an emphasis on civic and cultural development in communities where Humana has a meaningful presence. In a long-standing and thriving partnership, the Humana Foundation supports Actors Theatre of Louisville and its remarkable Humana Festival of New American Plays, demonstrating a joint commitment to artistic exploration and appreciation at home, across the region and around the globe.