Playwright Jeffrey Hatcher (phone play Show Business, and winner of an ATCA/Steinberg citation plus $5,000 check for Compleat Female Stage Beauty/Pittsburgh's City Theatre) refers to the oft-repeated, always denied rumor that Jory is actually the reclusive prize winning, playwright, Jane Martin (Talking With), by saying, "All deep dark secrets aside, there are very few theaters run by directors who write and that gives him a writer's sensibility. He's one of that rare breed of directors who really give writers their due. And ATL has the nicest literary office. I can be rejected by Michael and feel just fine." (Michael Bigelow Dixon has been literary manager for 12 years and is on the search committee for Jory's replacement.)
During Jory's tenure, two Humana Festival plays have won the Pulitzer Prize, D.L. Coburn's The Gin Game and Beth Henley's Crimes of the Heart, while the pseudonymous Martin's Keely and Du was a finalist. More than two dozen have gone on to Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, most recently this season, Arthur Kopit's Y2K at the Manhattan Theatre Club and the current Off-Broadway hit, Dinner With Friends, by Donald Margulies. As with film festivals, there is a market place aspect to the Humana Fest, reflecting what Jory describes as a "plantation mentality towards the American writer." Still there's talk of a New York future for actor/writer Stephen ("The Laramie Project") Belber's Tape from the current Fest. And over the Weekend, New York producer Stanley Tulchin (Dinner with Friends) optioned Allen Knee's Syncopation, a Long Wharf Theatre and George Street Playhouse co-production that won the other ATCA/Steinberg citation and $5,000 check. (Knee's play wasn't even part of the Humana Fest!)
Of his three-decade tenure, Jory recalls, "I usually directed at least three plays a year here, although one year (probably during my divorce), I directed five. His choice for this Festival was Jane Martin's latest, an aptly satirical work hoisting the theater by its own petard. "'Thirty-one years' in Louisville sounds like a play title," he concludes, "but now, I'd like to watch my ten year old grow up, eat in a new restaurant and really have some time to direct elsewhere. Of course I'll be in touch with Michael [Dixon], but I have a lot of practical knowledge of acting and directing to impart. And I've paid my dues. There are a hundred plays I'd like to direct, which you can't do when you're running a theater. From now on, I don't want to head anything."