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Huge Broadway Hit THE HUMANS up Close and Personal Right Here in Portland

Artists Rep scooped up rare regional production of the 2016 Tony Award winner by Stephen Karam

Presented by Artists Repertory Theatre November 8, 2017

It’s the small dinner party that made big waves on Broadway.

The gathering of the Blakes on Thanksgiving Day will be recognizable to anyone whose family celebrates holidays together: full of teasing and laughter, tender support, unwanted advice, hurt feelings, oddball traditions, and the complicated bonds of family, it could be any American home movie.

Humans quinlan fitzgerald  robert pescovitz  luisa sermol  val landrum at the first rehearsal and read through of the humans osoxey

(L-R) Quinlan Fitzgerald, Robert Pescovitz, Luisa Sermol, Val Landrum at the first rehearsal and read through of THE HUMANS.

Image: Jeff Hayes

The Blakes gather in youngest daughter Brigid’s and her boyfriend Richard’s as-yet unfurnished new apartment. Brigid’s parents Erik and Deirdre, along with her sister Aimee, and their dementia-ridden grandmother Momo, have come to celebrate the holiday on folding chairs and paper plates. Not yet a home, the apartment isn’t really comfortable for anyone – there aren’t many places to sit, necessities and comforts are still in packing boxes, light bulbs seem to have a mind of their own. Just outside the apartment walls, unseen things thud and creak, and strange shadows flicker past the windows. It’s probably just the neighbors, and yet…

Set design by megan wilkerson ta3uar

Scenic design by Megan Wilkerson. Set model by Colin Moore.

Image: Jeff Hayes

“I had the opportunity to experience THE HUMANS in its Broadway run and marveled at how Karam had made a living document, a time capsule, of our early 21st Century American experience,” said Director Dámaso Rodríguez. “I immediately wanted to share the experience with our Portland audiences in Artists Rep’s intimate venue.”

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Taking place in a NYC basement duplex apartment with the play’s action happening on two floors, THE HUMANS required a major reconfiguration of Artists Rep’s Morrison Theatre.

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The Morrison Theatre went from a thrust stage , where the audience sits in a semi-circle around the stage to a proscenium layout, where the audience sits in front of the stage that frames the action of the play.

Rodríguez continues: “Running 90 minutes, real-time, The Humans is a hyper-realistic imitation of life. With humor and compassion, Karam masterfully evokes the ubiquitous anxieties of the U.S. middle class – from health stresses to class tensions to an uncertain financial future – within the three generations of the Blake family. That we’re opening our production on Thanksgiving weekend just as families begin to gather for seasonal celebrations is perfect timing.”

Receiving the rights to premiere a new production so closely on the heels of a New York run is uncommon.  In fact, the Broadway production is touring other cities while Artists Rep’s local team takes on the Portland premiere.

WHEN:  November 19 – December 17, 2017

Regular run Nov. 19 through Dec. 17: Wed-Sun @ 7:30pm, Sun @ 2pm

Additional performances:

Tuesdays: Nov. 21 & 28 and Dec. 5 & 12 @ 7:30pm

Wednesday: Dec. 6 @ noon

Saturday: Dec. 16 @ 2pm

Sunday: Dec. 17 @ 2pm & 7:30pm

WHERE:  Artists Repertory Theatre, Morrison Stage, 1515 SW Morrison Street


TICKETS: $50 regular price; $25 preview/student/under 25

Use code POMO35 for $35 tickets

Buy Tickets:  503.241.1278 or www.artistsrep.org 

 Smashing a peppermint pig and singing an Irish ballad are part of The Blake family’s Thanksgiving traditions in THE HUMANS. What are some of your holiday traditions?

From Resident Artist Michael Mendelson:

I have a cousin who would only eat the turkey skin. Only. For years.

From Luisa Sermol, actor who plays Deirdre Blake in THE HUMANS:

We write on a Fall leaf what we are thankful for. The leaves are passed out before dessert and are read randomly and we guess who wrote it.

From Production Assistant Karen Hill:

My mom, my sister, and I used to go Black Friday shopping every year.  Now, with our own families and work, we don't anymore, but we still look through ALL the store ads in the newspaper.  It's still our time together even if we don't go anywhere. 

From Managing Director Sarah Horton:

Our tradition began about 40 years ago. Someone at the table makes the solemn suggestion that we bless the feast before we eat. The family then screams at top volume: RUB-A-DUB-DUB, THANKS FOR THE GRUB, YAAAAAAAY, GOD! Then one year, my mother observed “I didn’t see God sweating it out in that kitchen all day!” The prayer’s ending was revised to “YAAAAAAAY, MOM!” The tradition stands today. 

What are your family traditions?