Fresh Eyes on THE HUMANS, 3rd Installment
This was the last week for THE HUMANS in the rehearsal room; next week the action shifts into the theatre and onto the set. On Friday, November 10th, our Fresh Eyes were in the room to watch the ‘designer run through’ – the last chance for designers to see the play in its entirety before we start working in all the technological aspects. Here are Garrett’s and Scott's observations:
Heading into the third week of THE HUMANS, the actors are completely off script and are really digging into the characters. Working in the space with furniture and props has afforded them the opportunity to understand not only their character's needs. but the interpersonal relationships of the "family."
This was the first time I had seen a full run through (not counting the read through) and even though there is still room to grow, the actors carried themselves with gravitas. As an observer, I could begin to pick up subtle character and plot nuances that the actors were choosing to enhance, like family secrets. Seeing THE HUMANS performed as a single entity and on a stage (or technically a rehearsal hall) gave it a new life and vision.
Seeing the evolution the actors have taken the material over the last few weeks, I believe that THE HUMANS is one of the strongest, naturalistic plays of the modern era. Playwright August Strindberg is generally associated with naturalism, having wanted his plays to feel like they are unfolding in real time, or something more "natural." There are also other elements associated with the style, including people doing "real work" on stage.
These elements can be found throughout THE HUMANS. Rich prepares the Thanksgiving meal in real time on stage, mixing ingredients together while other characters welcome each other. When the lights go out, the family goes up stairs to unpack boxes looking for flashlights. There is something to be said about the beauty of watching "work" being done on stage. Far too often in theatre (and almost always in film) we skip over how something happens. The stage goes to black out, and there is a new scene, or maybe the weapon the main character need in assembled off stage by a stagehand. It's almost a privilege to watch something happen on the stage, and realize that being alive is just "performing" by any other name.
THE HUMANS is shaping up to be one of the most exciting and immediate shows of 2017. I will admit I got choked up just watching the rehearsal. I can't wait to watch it with the actual set.
The silence hits you the hardest.
The hum of nothingness.
Its tide rolls into the room as the actors wade through it. Because it is the theatre, because it is an apartment in New York, because it is a family gathering at Thanksgiving, the silence should not be mistook as it bears no trace of peace or tranquility.
Great moments of drama always come from the words of the play. A rejection. A confession. A rebuke. Recrimination. A declaration. Truth. Love. A lie. But let no one tell you otherwise: silence creates incredible moments of drama as well. It is upon silence that we paint a moment with sound. We hear what looms over us, beneath or within. It is within the silence that our greatest fears and vulnerabilities emerge to look around when they think the coast is clear. THE HUMANS creates its moments of silence and adds flourishes of sound where it needs.
Every time you work on a play, you begin to see it emerge during the rehearsal process. The actors make their connections. Bonds form between characters unique to this production. It’s exciting to see a multitude of these moments and connections emerge in the play.
It’s nearly Tech Week and soon we will get to see the set. The costumes will be on their racks. The characters will elegantly navigate the layers and passages of their dialogue. The sounds of this old apartment building in New York will bounce off the walls in the performance space.
But it will be the silence that hits you the hardest.