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The Humans (history of this famous broadway show)
The Humans opened in Chicago in2014 at the American Theater Company. Written by a young playright by the name of Stephen Karam, the play received excellent reviews and in September 2015 opened Off-Broadway at the Laura Pells Theater, remaining there until 2016 when it moved to Broadway and began a short stint at the Helen Hayes Theater. In July of the same year, The Humans moved to the Schoenfeld Theater, also on Broadway, because of major renovations that had begun at the Helen Hayes Theater.
Throughout The Humans stretch on Broadway it continued to receive rave reviews. Since its beginning in 2014 it has won awards for Outstanding Play for 2016, as well as Drama Desk Special Award for Outstanding Ensemble, also in 2016, for its outstanding contribution to theater among Off-Broadway and Broadway shows. It has also won awards for Best Lighting Design in a Play and Best Sound in a Play. Also on the list of awards are Tony Awards for Best Play, Best Actor in a Play, Best Actress in a Play, and Best Scenic Design in a Play. Not to mention Obie Awards for Distinguished Performance by an Actress, and an Obie Award for Playwriting. It was also a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for drama.
As a brief rundown and history of the show, The Humans the story of a typical American family from Pennsylvania getting together for Thanksgiving dinner at the New York City apartment of their daughter and her boyfriend. The apartment has been written as one that leaves much to be desired in the eyes of the visiting family, but much coveted by its occupants. A typical New York apartment, it begins in a basement, but, with the help of a spiral staircase, adds a whole other floor to an already dreary situation.
The actors of this play have been dubbed as “flawless”, and the play has made its transition from Off-Broadway to Broadway with its entire team intact. The reviews for the play reflect its ability to capture real life situations while bringing a little humor into light here and there. Stephen Karam’s family of characters can easily be viewed as dysfunctional, but, in watching the play, and allowing yourself to be completely enveloped into their lives, you will recognize the familiarity and maybe be able to see some of yourself in them. How many Thanksgiving dinners have we all spent with much loved but often dysfunctional family members of our own?
The writer of the play, Stephen Karam, wrote the play inspired by his own life in New York City. The sights and sounds the audience hears in the show are sounds that he himself hears in his own home, on most typical days. The show’s sound designer, Fitz Patton, has recorded sounds in different sections of the city; for example, garbage trucks and sirens, and other every day sounds such as a ringing cellphone or doorbell. He even recorded the monstrous sound like someone stomping across a floor overhead. All these sounds are used throughout the play to add to its drama.
Everything about this play puts the spotlight on the tones of the New York City where Stephen Karam lives. For instance, he has a neighbor who lives in the apartment above him who he says seems to be dropping things on the floor from time to time that he swears must be marbles. This he incorporates into his play as the loud thumping heard every so often as the family listens to what they think must be a giant running across the roof. Karam’s play brings together all probable and possible facets of American life, including responsibility of a sick family member, loss of a job, disillusionment with home, job, and finances, and feeling as though you are losing control of your life. Everything a family would experience given enough time. These Pennylvanian parents are dealing with a citified daughter who is a talented musician, but, unable to support herself as such, and is working as at two jobs bartending. Her live in partner is a career student who wants to be a social worker, but, at the same time, is expecting a trust fund to open up on his 40th birthday. His mother has come to visit as well, having a bad day with her dementia, her wheelchair in tow. The Pennsylvania’s other daughter, a lawyer, has developed ulcerative colitis which has cost her a job with a law firm. As if that weren’t enough cause for concern, she has recently experienced a breakup with her girlfriend.
All of these situations have been gleaned from the life of the writer, in one way or another. He has successfully combined his experiences and interest in what makes city life what it is, and honed them into one happy, sad, funny, tragedy. Audiences have been, and continue to be, enamored by this play, as they see the ultimate of family life unfolding on the stage before them. What Stephen Karam has woven together from his own experiences also reflect the day to day experiences of a typical family. The title of the play, The Humans, couldn’t be more fitting for a play that comes right up out of the homes and experiences of just what they are; people. Simple, but complicated.
The writer reached into the history of his own life and wrote down for all to see everything he has seen, experienced, and imagined. He has incorporated the very people he knows as well as himself along with every other family in America to weave this real life story of fractured love. Just like this fictional family, we all go through our times of elation that are pierced by times of tragedy, we make our plans for the future, but we don’t really know what the future will bring. We keep a certain part of ourselves tucked away and braced for disappointment, but we nevertheless consistently put one foot in front of the other in hopes of success. The American family.