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Actors Theatre of Louisville. (Photo by Justin Philalack)

No Humana Fest This Year, as ATL Reimagines New-Work Model

Actors Theatre of Louisville has cancelled this year’s new-play fest to pivot to other means of supporting and lifting playwrights’ work.

LOUISVILLE, KY.: The Actors Theatre of Louisville has announced that there will be no Humana Festival of New American Plays in 2022. After 45 years of showcasing new theatrical works with an annual month-long spring festival of new plays, the theatre has opted to pursue a new model for sharing new work and cultivating emerging artists.

“Though there will not be a Festival of New American Plays in 2022,” said ATL executive artistic director Robert Barry Fleming in a statement, “we are unwavering in our commitment to broadening, deepening, and diversifying the American theatre canon in form and content. The transformation of how we support and share new work is part of the larger evolution in our strategic vision…In order to uplift, celebrate, and expand the tremendous legacy of the festival, it is necessary to reimagine a 21st-century model that is sustainable, equitable, and radically accessible, in alignment with our mission and values as an arts and culture organization as social enterprise.”

The festival’s namesake funder, the Humana Foundation, has in recent years strengthened its focus on health equity through strategic community investments, and its most recent three-year commitment to support ATL’s work was scheduled to expire this year. Though some have speculated that the cancellation of this year’s festival indicates a change in the foundation’s priorities away from support of the arts, ATL’s statement emphasizes that the company’s “pivot is independent from our long-term partner.”

The festival’s last in-person iteration was in 2019; its 2020 festival was cancelled due to the COVID-19 lockdown, and the 2021’s installment was called a Humana Virtual Exhibition of New Work and Emergent Technologies. One of those new works, Still Ready, originally conceived as a streaming docuseries, will premiere in person at ATL’s Bingham Theater in May 2022. Written and performed by Christina Acosta Robinson and Ken Robinson, Still Ready blends original music, poetry, and visual art.

The Actors Theatre also plans to present Threads of Our History: Where We Intertwine, a series of vignettes written by students in the Justice Now program of Jefferson County Public Schools, addressing the social justice of Louisville past and present, March 25-27. The theatre has recently collaborated with nurse and dancer Tara Rynders on The Clinic and with the University of Kentucky College of Nursing to produce youth suicide prevention training materials for school nurses in the Kentucky region.

The Actors Theatre of Louisville is an arts and culture organization committed to artistic practice that centers community service through a transmedia multiplatform approach.

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