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Welles bio highlights Humana play fest slate

Emerging playwrights topline sked

CHICAGO — Director Anne Bogart, the Siti Co. and playwright Naomi Iizuka are joining forces for an unconventional biography of Orson Welles to premiere at the 24th Humana Festival of New Plays in the spring. Titled “War of the Worlds,” the new play premieres in March at the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, where the new play fest runs from Feb. 29 to April 2.

Other plays on the Louisville slate, to be officially announced next week, are “Big Love” by Charles Mee; “Anton in Show Business” by Jane Martin; “No. 11 (Blue and White)” by Alexandra Cunningham; “Touch” by Toni Press-Coffman; and “Tape” by Stephen Belber.

There are more emerging playwrights and fewer big names than in previous years, although the plays promise to be typically diverse in style. This year’s annual visitors weekend for industry professionals will be March 31-April 2.

Mee is providing a 21st century take on Aeschylus’ “Suppliants,” in which 50 brides vow to murder 50 grooms on their wedding night. The pseudonymous Martin, meanwhile, has penned a backstage comedy that focuses on a Texas production of “The Three Sisters” with a Hollywood star in the lead.

Belber’s “Tape” is also concerned with film — it takes place in Lansing, Mich., during the homecoming of a young filmmaker. Press-Coffman’s “Touch” deals with astronomy and soul-mates, while Cunningham’s play dissects the psyche of a young preppie.

In recent years, ATL has usually included some experimentations in form. This year’s endeavor is called “Back Story.” Some 17 playwrights (including Craig Lucas, Donald Margulies and Edwin Sanchez) are each contributing monologues and short scenes to a collectively written play based on Joan Ackermann’s specially penned back story about two American siblings in their 20s. Incest is expressly forbidden as a plot twist, but the scribes are otherwise free to take the play wherever they wish.

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