Artistic Director Les Waters and Managing Director Jennifer Bielstein have announced the commission of Sleep Rock Thy Brain, a suite of three one-act plays by Rinne Groff, Lucas Hnath and Anne Washburn that will utilize aerial performance to explore the brain science of sleep. The project, conceived by Actors Artistic staff members Amy Attaway and Sarah Lunnie, is being developed in partnership with University of Louisville, the University of Louisville Department of Theatre Arts, University of Louisville School of Medicine, ZFX Flying Effects, and Jefferson County Public Schools. Sleep Rock Thy Brain will premiere during the 37th annual Humana Festival of New American Plays in March 2013. The premiere production will be directed by Amy Attaway and will feature Actors Theatre’s 22-member Acting Apprentice Company. It will play in the Owsley Brown II Black Box Theatre at Lincoln Performing Arts School.
Though sleep takes up fully one third of our lives, its purpose has long been shrouded in mystery. Why do we sleep? What’s it for? What’s happening inside our brains when we dream, and how should we understand our nightmares? Researchers are only now beginning to unlock the secrets behind one of life’s most universal experiences, and with Sleep Rock Thy Brain,playwrights Groff, Hnath and Washburn will harness the rich movement vocabulary of flight to explore the mysteries and complexities of the sleeping brain.
Actors Theatre’s Artistic Director Les Waters said,“It is a unique occasion to collaborate with these organizations, and their enthusiasm, along with the collective imagining of three renowned playwrights will result in the staging of two vital productions in the spring of 2013."
Dr. James R. Ramsey, University of Louisville said, “This is a great opportunity for UofL students to learn and collaborate with wonderful partners. It’s inspiring to see this kind of community engagement and partnership surrounding the arts.”
Terri Kirsch, C.E.O., ZFX Flying Effects said,"We couldn’t be happier working with this team of artists and professionals. This project not only bodes well with what we do on a daily basis but allows our flying team the opportunity to spread their artistic wings. We have considered Actors Theatre of Louisville a theatrical community ally for many years collaborating together on productions, workshops and training sessions. It has really been exciting watchingSleep Rock Thy Braindevelop over the months. I can’t wait to see the final product. To my knowledge, nothing like this has ever been done.”
Mr. Mike Ice, Assistant Principal, Lincoln Performing Arts School said, “On behalf of the students, staff and community, we are honored to represent Lincoln Performing Arts School and Jefferson County Public Schools as partners in this exciting and unique experience. Our state of the arts facility will provide the backdrop for this nationally recognized event. The Owsley Brown II theater proves to be a showcase for not only our school system but our entire city."
The play’s aerial effects are being developed by ZFX Flying Effects, an industry leader in the field of theatrical flying. Senior Flying Director Brian Owens will work in close collaboration with the playwrights to create original choreography, and the Acting Apprentices will train in aerial performance at ZFX throughout the season to prepare for the production. University of Louisville School of Medicine and the University Sleep Center also made a vital contribution to the development of the play by offering the playwrights research support and access to sleep lab staff and facilities.
Following its Humana Festival premiere, Sleep Rock Thy Brain will receive a second production in the University of Louisville Department of Theatre Arts’ Studio Theatre season. This production will feature students in the Department of Theatre Arts and will be directed by Department Chair Dr. Rinda Frye.
Thanks to a partnership with Jefferson County Public Schools, both productions of Sleep Rock Thy Brain will appear at the Owsley Brown II Theatre at Lincoln Performing Arts School, located on Main Street about a mile east of Actors Theatre’s downtown complex. Lincoln’s status as a groundbreaking performing arts magnet for elementary school students make it an ideal partner in this innovative project, and Sleep Rock Thy Brain will introduce Lincoln’s brand-new performing arts facilities to the community.