Actors Theatre artistic director Marc Masterson says there are a variety of styles among the seven full-length plays. Most are by individual playwrights, including Ground by Lisa Dillman who’s worked at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. The list also includes plays by individuals making their Actors Theatre debut — including Deborah Zoe Laufer’s comedy Sirens and Phoenix by Scott Organ.
Others are by ensembles including the Austin-based Rude Mechs, which brings its production The Method Gun to the festival, and some former members of the Tony Award-winning company, Theatre De La Jeune Lune, which closed last year for financial reasons.
Masterson says Actors Theatre likes to nurture the work of ensemble companies.
“The advantages of people who have been working together for 15, 20 years are really significant and tangible,” he says. “You can feel that when you see the work. I think that’s an important part of the conversation of how plays get developed now.”
Masterson says Actors Theatre commissioned the former members of Theatre De La Jeune Lune to write Fissures.
“This group of playwrights started with an idea to create something about memory,” Masterson says. “And then it became a conversation about — Well, what is memory and how does memory work? Do we fictionalize our own memories? That has led is to what I think is just a fascinating piece about the way we remember.”
Also on schedule is a musical called The Cherry Sisters Revisited by Dan O’Brien. Masterson says when he saw the play in development, he knew the composer who could write music for it.
“This is about the worst act in vaudeville, and it’s a true story,” he says. “So when I thought about what the musical needs were for that — you know, someone who can write music that has a sense of humor — Michael Friedman was top of the list.”
Audiences at Actors Theatre have heard Friedman’s music in The Civilians‘ productions of This Beautiful City and Gone Missing.
The play Heist! by Deborah Stein, who contributed to the last Humana Festival’s comic anthology called BRINK!. The play was conceived by Stein and Sean Daniels, Actors Theatre’s associate artistic director, and performances of it will take place at the 21C Museum Hotel.
The Humana Festival runs from February 21st and through April 18.