CHICAGO — New full-length plays from Arthur Kopit, Naomi Iizuka, David Rambo, Frank Manley and Anne Bogart will headline the Actors Theater of Louisville’s 23rd annual Humana Festival of New American Plays.
Officially announced next week, the schedule of the high-profile confab will also include such new gimmicks as “T-Shirt Plays,” in which an entire dramatic work is wearable; “Phone Plays,” three-minute shows dialed up by audiences; and “A Car Play,” in which two or three viewers share an automobile with actors. The event runs from Feb. 23 through March 28.
Big names have been nabbed for the shorter fare. Tony Kushner, Wendy Wasserstein, the pseudonymous Jane Martin, Mac Wellman and David Henry Hwang will all be writing shirts. There’s also the usual slate of new 10-minute plays, a form popularized in Louisville and representative of the festival’s long tradition of exploring nontraditional running times, locales and venues for theater.
“Next year we’re thinking about inscribing plays on the backs of people’s glasses,” said ATL artistic director Jon Jory.
But it’s the major works, performed in repertory, that always attract the most attention. Aside from Rambo, all of this year’s authors have previously appeared at the Humana Festival.
Bogart’s “Cabin-Pressure” (developed with the Siti Co.) will apparently probe the troubled waters of actor-audience relationships. Kopit’s “Y2K” is a drama that will apparently probe the pervasive fallout from l’affaire Lewinsky.
“Arthur called up and said he was steamed up about the effects of the (independent counsel Kenneth) Starr case on issues of personal privacy,” Jory said. “And he decided to write a play about it.”
The typically elliptical Iizuka has penned “Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls,” a look at the human search for tribes.
In “The Cockfighter,” Manley (the author of “Two Masters”) uses the bloodsport as a metaphor and background for father-son conflicts.
Lastly, the lesser-known Rambo (who previously penned “There’s No Place Like Home” and sections of Howard Crabtree’s “Whoop De Doo”) probes the politics of the Baptist Church in “God’s Man in Texas.”
“This year’s plays all seem to pursue some definition of maturity,” Jory said, searching for a way to unify a typically disparate set of dramatic offerings. “They’re all exploring the endless problems of an age of relativism.”