Actors Theatre Kicks Off 33rd Humana Festival

by ekramer on March 2, 2009

Actors Theatre of Louisville kicks off the 33rd Humana Festival of New American Plays this week amid concerns about the weak economy. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

This year’s Humana Festival will premiere eight new works over the next five weeks. While many arts groups are starting to scale back activities, Actors Theatre managing director Jennifer Bielstein says the theater places a priority on staging new work, even during hard economic times.
¼br /> Beilstein says it’s not clear yet how much the economy will affect ticket sales and attendance by regular out-of-town attendees from the theatre, film and journalism industries duirng specially scheduled weekends.

“We are anticipating that it will be more difficult for people to travel here for those weekends,” Beilsten says. “We’ll know more closer to those weeks, but we are starting to hear from a few people that they don’t’ have the travel budget to make it hear this year.”

Still, she says the theater’s weekend for college students has sold out.

“We’ve had more people who are coming for College Days then we’ve ever had,” she says. “And it’s anywhere from a professor bringing a group of students from a college to students from a university piling in a car and driving overnight to get here.”

The theater’s leadership and most of the playwrights spoke Monday about the importance of continuing to invest in the production of new art even in the midst of an ever weakening economy. One was Ellen Lauren. She’s the associate artistic director of SITI Company, the acclaimed innovative theater ensemble that has had work in the festival since 1992.

“Choosing to move forward rather than react and pull back, it’s an enormous beacon for other arts institutions and for artists all over the world, let alone this country,” Lauren says.

The festival has produced more than 350 new plays. Many have gone on to be performed across the nation and internationally and adapted for film. The theatre will hold an opening party Thursday for this year’s festival.

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