April, 2012

Report on The Humana Festival of 2012


There are many Sites of Interest in Louisville--Looville, to some Locals--including Churchill Downs, the Speed Art Museum, & the Louisville Slugger Museum, but the Recycled Bank that’s the Architectural Showpiece of Actors Theatre of Louisville is certainly the Center of Interest during the Industry & Critics Weekends of the Annual Humana Festival of New American Plays.

Nonetheless, there is also a somewhat theatrical Caravansary just up Main Street from the Theatre Complex.

This is the 21c Museum Hotel, a boutique hotel that is also a very special kind of Art Gallery.

Art seems to be everywhere in the Museum. In its cavernous Atrium Space, there are even Performances, occasionally involving the Art on the Walls.

All the Art on view, however, is Art of the 21st Century!

No Renoirs on the Walls of the Boutique Bedrooms

The Hotel’s Signature Image, however, is an Orange Penguin.

Among the American Artists who have been featured in the Hotel are Kara Walker, Bill Viola, Chuck Close, & Kehinde Wiley.

Currently, Cloning is on view, in some of the works of the Cuban American, Anthony Goicolea.

He’s called this show ALTEREGO. In some of his haunting scenes of Naughty Boys, all the Boys are Clones of the Artist.

Some of these scenes suggest Teen Porn



The 36th Annual Humana Festival Moves Ever Forward: More & More New American Plays!

There must be thousands of New American Plays written every year all over America!

If your Ford Factory has closed, or the School Board has fired you for Gross Incompetence, you can Always Write a Play!

In fact, if they are correct about Write What You Know, exposing the Corruption of both the Factory Management & the School Board Members might be good Starting Points

If you are any good at it, your play might even be produced next Spring in Louisville at the Humana Festival.

Or in Denver, at the New Play Summit.

Even the Oldest Town in West Virginia now has its very own Fest: Featuring America’s Newest Plays…

Oddly enough, the actual Name of that Town is not anywhere to be found on the Handsome Business Card given Your Roving Arts Reporter on the Airport Shuttle by a Promoter of the Contemporary American Theatre Festival. But do try CATF.ORG for further info!

If you are fortunate enough to have an Actual Production of your New Play at a Regional Theatre, then you--or, at least, Your Play--are/is eligible for consideration for the Annual Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award.

The Play Reading Committee of the American Theatre Critics Association has to shuffle through some Hundreds of Submissions, finally reading Scores of Scripts.

Bill Hirschman, our resourceful Play Reading Chairman, has often urged Your Arts Reporter to dive into these Scripts, but I hardly have time to Proof what I’m writing right now.

I think it’s enough that I’m a Board Member of the ATCA Foundation, which allocates our share of the Award Money that’s pooled with the generosity of the Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust

This Spring, Yussef el Guindi won the $25,000 Award. His astonishing drama is: Pilgrims Musa & Sheri in the New World.

Two additional Awards of $7,500 went to Ken LaZebnick’s On the Spectrum & to A. Rey Pamatmat’s Edith Can Shoot Things & Hit Them. This oddment was produced last year at the Humana.

My Report on Edith is on line in last Spring’s Humana Screed, to be found on Glenn Loney’s Show Notes

What Do You Do When Your Print Outlet Dies?

In addition to Giving Out Awards, other non play activities included a Panel!

This one was called Critiquing Criticism: (re)imagining the future.

It’s not just a matter of Losing those Two on the Aisle Free Tickets when the Toledo Blade Sentinel Mercury Herald Intelligencer Sun Times Post News Journal World Telegram Examiner Mirror goes under.

It’s also all about finding or creating a New Venue on line…

But you need to think about whom you are writing for: Theatre Publicists, who need some Good Quotes; Box Office Managers, who need some Bums in Seats; or Real People, who might just buy some tickets on the basis of your recommendation.

Or Save Money, if you hated the show…

But how do Potential Ticket Buyers find Your Reviews out there in Ethernet Space?

Good Question!

Dr. Polly Carl, Editor of Howlround, was the incisive Moderator.

A High Point in the General Festivities was the Introduction to Outsiders of Les Waters, who is the new Artistic Director of Actors Theatre of Louisville.

Sorry, Wrong Number! Lisa Kron Has Trouble with Her Phone Bill! Would You Mind Holding…

Lisa Kron has carefully protected herself from Lawsuits by naming her Orchestrated Frustrations with her Telephone & Internet Service Provider: The Veri**zon Play.

This is her Primal Scream about the Screwing Over we’ve all been getting from such Major Corporations as People as Verizon, Delta, & Chase:

Your Call is important to Us! So would you mind waiting half an hour, listening to Salsa Music, until one of our Customer Service Representatives in Bangladesh is able to speak to you in Pidgin English?

Beginning with a Paid Bill that kept showing up each Month--for months on end--Kron got so furious that she decided to Write a Playl

But she’s been careful not to make it Crazy Lady Ranting, so it’s both Funny & Noirish.

Slyly staged by Nicholas Martin, it stars Kron as the much abused Jenni, who seeks Revenge on Verizon™©. But she finds the Rot goes much deeper than any of us has imagined.

Put down your Receivers! Kron’s hilarious play hasn’t yet moved to Manhattan.

But it is sure to be on stage soon, not only in New York, but Across the Nation!

Who has not been left hanging on the line by a Customer Service Rep who learned English in Delhi or Bangkok?

Your Roving Arts Reporter is still trying to get rid of Bill Collectors, seeking payment for an Air Berlin Flight that was never made.

American Express settled this long ago, even sending a Refund Check.

Should We Keep Very Old, Rich, Selfish, & Cantankerous People Alive When Their Shelf Life is Up?

Ben Franklin once said that there are only Two Certainties: Death & Taxes.

Playwright Lucas Hnath tackles them both in his aptly named Death Tax.

Judith Roberts could be the Wrath of God, as she desperately Clings to Life, not so much To Be Alive, as to frustrate her Hated Daughter & deny her a Huge Inheritance.

Her Angry Malevolence destroys some who have tried to help her, but also To Help Themselves

This Play almost makes a case for those Death Panels with which the Tea Partiers were threatening us.

Confined to a Hospital Bed, she is a Shrew, a Scold, & Terminally Selfish.

Unfortunately, she does not die of Meanness, but lives on & on & on.

Hospital Beds seem all the rage now: The Lyons & Wit both have them Center Stage.

The Multi Millionaire--or is it Multi Billionaire?--Pete Peterson has insisted that Old People who are no longer Productive & who cannot care for themselves should be Eased Out.

This, of course, does not apply to Rich Old Millionaires

Ken Rus Schmoll staged, but he is in No Danger of becoming another Pete Peterson or Mitt Romney on a Stage Director’s Fee.


From Rap to Hip Hop: Two Tyros Try It On in How We Got On

Were it not for Idris Goodwin’s Insights into aspects of the Popular Culture that are seldom known to those who listen to The Good Music Station: WQXR, the Crazy Rhymers would still be a Mystery to some.

Colleagues who are Connoisseurs of Street Music--especially Rap & Hip Hop--loved this show.

I admired the almost compulsive Rap Rhyming of Hank [Terrell Donnell Sledge] & Julian [Brian Quijada].

Wendy C. Goldberg staged.


Don’t Be a Messy Eater, Please! Leave Those Bananas Alone! Oh! Gastronomy! Oh! Interns!

The Talented Interns of Actors Theatre put on a show every year.

For this Fest, the emphasis was on Food, its Preparation, & Eating.

If you want the Complete List of Songs & Skits presented in Oh, Gastronomy!, log on to the ActorsTheatre.Org Website:

Looking for Love, Looking for a Kid To Call Your Own, Looking for Security: Eat Your Heart Out

Courtney Brown’s Eat Your Heart Out comes close to being a Heartbreaker with its Desperate People Looking for Love…

Gabe [Mike DiSalvo] & Alice [Kate Arrington], a smart, successful Couple are desperate to Adopt.

But they have to undergo an Invasive Interrogation to be judged Fit for Parenting.

This is being conducted by the Lovelorn Nance [Kate Eastwood Norris], who has Real Problems with her unlovable Overweight Daughter Evie [Sarah Grodsky].

Thanks to the Internet, Nance has just met a Lovable Man [Alex Moggridge] who might just be Mr. Right

There is enough Anger, Rage, Disappointment, Despair, Longing, & even Love to go round for all.

This is a drama that is sure to find eager & understanding Audiences in New York & across the country.

But, because it has a series of Rapid Fire Scenes that almost Overlap, a conventional Proscenium Staging won’t work to the play’s advantage.

But, in Louisville, in the Bingham Theatre--with its Theatre in the Square Conformation--Scene Changes can be swifter than swift. Furniture & Props rise up out of the floor…

Circle in the Square is the only Manhattan Theatre that can function as does the Bingham. But it’s, at the moment, cursed with Godspell.

Tom Tutino designed the animated settings, with Adam Greenfield sensitively staging.


After Urinetown, the Crusade to Free Constantinople from the Infidel Ottoman Turks!

After the roaring Off off Broadway Success of Urinetown--with a subsequent Transfer from what looked like an Abandoned Court House or Jail--Greg Kotis & his collaborator told a Drama Desk Panel that they had Quit Their Daytime Jobs.

As things have turned out, this may not have been a Wise Decision, if Kotis’ Humana Offering is any indication.

At the Drama Desk, someone asked Kotis what would be next, after Urinetown.

No forthcoming Projects were noted, so I suggested that there was really nowhere to go, after Urinetown, unless one marched onward to Shit City

With his new play, Michael von Siebenburg Melts Through the Floorboards, Kotis seems to have reached that Destination, identified in the Humana Program as "An American City."

But there’s also Another City in this odd drama: Constantinople, circa 1453, when the Ottoman Turks invaded & conquered this Ancient Christian City, a formerly a center of Mediterranean Civilization.

Michael’s Problem--aside from the painfully fake German Accent he has to use--is that he dates back to the Crusades, from which a Chief Crusader keeps coming back to Now, to urge him to return to the Walls of what is now Istanbul, to free it from the Muslim Infidel.

So, both Michael [Rufus Collins] & his Seducer/Sidekick Sammy [Micah Stock] are really Undead.

But they are not Simple Vampires or Werewolves.

No! They are Fresh Flesh Eaters!

Sammy seduces likely Young Ladies, bringing them to the elegant Austrian Baron, who may bed them but who prefers to murder them & reduce their bodies to something like Big Mac Hamburger Meat.

This he shares with the always hungry Sammy, who chomps down on several packages of Raw Meat.

It may be Kotis’ Idea to cash in on the Current Vampire Lover Rage, with something Stronger than Human Blood. [In Louisville, is there such a thing for Local Vampires as Humana Blood?]

Or Kotis may be going all the way in spoofing Vampire Lover Novels & Films?

If so, he may have miscalculated.

Several Colleagues left at the Intermission: The Sight of Sammy munching on a huge block of Red Meat really upset them…

Kip Fagan directed.

Next Door Neighbors Can Be Crazy, a Drag, or Even Friends: Try Apartments 423 & 424!

The Ballad of 423 & 424 was the Best of the Ten Minute Plays.

Nicholas C. Pappas imagines the perky Ellen [the hilarious Kate Eastwood Norris] moving in next door to an eccentric but famous Author [David Barlow].

This is a Curtain Raiser that may well prove to be very popular with both College & Community Theatres!

Sarah Rasmussen staged.


Looking for Love, Looking for a Father: Where’s Our Hero Dad…

Here’s another Heartbreaker, related to Eat Your Heart Out.

Laura Jacqmin imagines three Dads, with only Partial Custody of their Kids.

There are also Three Women [all played by Kate Arrington] in this short take on Fathers, Flirting, & Failure

Once again, Sarah Rasmussen staged.


Playing Video Games in 3 D On Stage: Dragons, Dungeons, & Stuff!

Cell Phones are beyond my limited Technical Abilities, so I have never been Tempted to Text. Or to play Video Games like Dungeons & Dragons.

So, I have to imagine what it must feel like to play this game Live in 3 D

In Kyle John Schmidt’s The Dungeons & The Dragons, we actually have a Boy Player sprawled in a kind of Throne, making Jean Verlaine, Marlin Bricks, & Felicity Hydrangea Karmikal do His Bidding.

Well, you really had to be there

KJ Sanchez directed.


The Hour of Feeling Feels Painful & Strange: Uprooted from Damascus Gate To Lecture in London!

Guess What!

Not all Palestinian Arab Natives of Old Jerusalem have welcomed the State of Israel on their Doorsteps

In Mona Monsour’s troubling drama, The Hour of Feeling, there is no Right of Return.

Adham’s Mother, Beder [an inflexible Judith Delgado] has sacrificed & sacrificed so that Adham [Haddi

Tabbal] could study in Cairo, at Al Hazar University.

But he has Bigger Horizons in view: he’s off to London, to lecture on Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey at University College.

This is a long way off from Old Jerusalem, the Damascus Gate, & the nearby Palestinian Village which the Israelis have virtually pillaged.

When the 1967 War--also known as the Six Days War or "The Setback"--breaks out, his Mother begs him to return. His new wife, Abir [Rasha Zamamiri], a forward looking Arab, demands that he return home with her.

Is Tintern Abbey more real to him than their old Village of Beit Hanina

The admirable Mark Wing Davey directed.


This Month’s Rational Ratings--

Lisa Kron’s THE VERI**ON PLAY [★★★★]

Lucas Hnath’s DEATH TAX [★★★]

Idris Goodwin’s HOW WE GOT ON [★★★]

Courtney Baron’s EAT YOUR HEART OUT [★★★★★]


Nicholas C. Pappas’ THE BALLAD OF 423 & 434 [★★★★]

Laura Jacqmin’s HERO DAD [★★★★]

Kyle John Schmidt’s THE DUNGEONS & THE DRAGONS [★★★]


Caricature of Glenn Loney in header is by Sam Norkin.

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