A word to the wise: Book your accommodations even before you buy your tickets at www.spoletousa.org - you'll want to be as close to the historic district of old Charleston as possible, so you can walk those cobbled streets to the events.

Louisville, Kentucky
The epicenter of Louisville's cultural modernity may be one of its oldest landmarks: The Seelbach, now a Hilton Hotel, dates to 1905 and has a place in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. So if you can tear yourself away from the marble and mint juleps, take a leisurely stroll through a few blocks of one of the country's nicest efforts at downtown renovation and you'll find yourself at the stately pillars of a former bank, the airy domed ceiling of which now is the grand lobby of Actors Theatre of Louisville.

This fully professional company, now in its 40th season, is onstage most of the year - schedules for its three theaters are at www.actorstheatre.org. But Louisville really starts turning up on cultural tourists' itineraries in March because that's when the theater's annual Humana
Festival of New American Plays produces a springtime blizzard of world premières to audiences, artists, and critics from around the world. First mounted in 1976, the Humana is known for finding new works that then find their way to bigger stages and to Hollywood - The Gin Game, Agnes of God, and Extremities are some of the best-known examples.

This year's Humana Festival runs to April 10 and takes an intriguing turn by commissioning a new play from Los Angeles-based playwright Naomi Iizuka, called At the Vanishing Point, about Louisville's own Butchertown, a preservation district on the edge of the city's downtown area.