Jump to content

The Humans (play)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Humans
Written byStephen Karam
  • Erik
  • Deirdre
  • Richard
  • Fiona "Momo" Blake
  • Aimee
  • Brigid
Date premieredSeptember 30, 2015 (2015-09-30)
Place premieredRoundabout Theatre Company – Laura Pels Theatre
Original languageEnglish
SettingAn apartment in lower Manhattan
Official site

The Humans is a one-act play written by Stephen Karam. The play opened on Broadway in 2016 after an engagement Off-Broadway in 2015. The Humans was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Play.


At Thanksgiving, the Blake family gathers at the run-down Manhattan apartment in Chinatown of Brigid Blake and her boyfriend Richard. Brigid's parents, Erik Blake and Deirdre Blake, arrive from their home in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to have dinner with Brigid, Richard and Aimee, their other adult daughter. Brigid is a musician and Aimee is a lawyer living in Philadelphia. Aimee has recently broken up with her girlfriend and has developed an intestinal ailment. Also present is Erik's mother, Fiona ("Momo"), who has Alzheimer's disease. The parents are unhappy that their daughters have left home and have abandoned their religion. The family members must deal with "aging, illness, and a changing economy".[1]


The play had its world premiere at the American Theater Company in Chicago, Illinois, in November 2014, directed by PJ Paparelli. Chris Jones, in his review for the Chicago Tribune, wrote: "kind, warm, beautifully observed and deeply moving new play, a celebration of working-class familial imperfection and affection and a game-changing work for this gifted young playwright."[2]

The Humans opened Off-Broadway at the Laura Pels Theatre on September 30, 2015, in previews, and officially on October 25, 2015, in a limited run produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company, with positive reviews, and ran until January 3, 2016.[3] It transferred to Broadway at the Helen Hayes Theatre, opening on February 18, 2016, and closing on July 24, 2016. The play then transferred to the Schoenfeld Theatre, re-opening on August 9, 2016. (The Helen Hayes had major renovations starting in August 2016.)[4][5] The play closed its Broadway engagement on January 15, 2017.[6]

Directed by Joe Mantello, the Off-Broadway cast featured Cassie Beck (Aimee), Reed Birney (Erik), Jayne Houdyshell (Deirdre), Lauren Klein (Fiona "Momo" Blake), Arian Moayed (Richard), and Sarah Steele (Brigid). While off-Broadway, the script won the 2016 Obie Awards for Karam's playwriting and Houdyshell's performance.[7] The Off-Broadway cast moved to Broadway.[8][9][10]

The Pittsburgh Public Theater staged The Humans from November 9 to December 10, 2017, directed by Pamela Berlin; it was admiringly reviewed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.[11] Artists Repertory Theatre, located in Portland, Oregon, staged it from November 19 to December 17.[12]

The play embarked on a limited US national tour, starting in November 2017 at the Seattle Repertory Theatre.[13] The tour cast featured Richard Thomas as Erik, Pamela Reed as Deirdre, Daisy Eagan as Brigid, Lauren Klein as Momo, Therese Plaehn as Aimee and Luis Vega as Richard.[14] The tour concluded on July 29, 2018, at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.[15]

The play opened in London at the Hampstead Theatre in September 2018 and closed on October 13, 2018. The Broadway cast reprise their roles, as does the director Mantello.[16]

Off the Dock Players produced the play in Sandwich, New Hampshire. It opened on February 14, 2020, and closed on February 23. The production was directed by Nancy Blaine and starred Hank Offinger, Rebecca Cole, Ashley Bullard, Abe Garon, Marena Harris, and Lisa Thompson.[17]

Critical response[edit]

In his review of the Broadway production in The New York Times, Charles Isherwood called it the "finest new play of the Broadway season so far" and praised the cast, direction, and the set "... that perfectly captures the unsettled atmosphere the writing so deftly establishes."[18]

Jesse Green, reviewing the Broadway production for Vulture, wrote: "With its irrational layout and strange, sickening noises, the apartment, as the stage directions put it, is 'effortlessly uncanny,' as is the play itself ... It is still the most, well, human play I’ve ever seen about fear and disappointment and the attachments that transcend them."[19]

The Pulitzer Prize committee called the play a “profoundly affecting drama that sketches the psychological and emotional contours of an average American family."[20]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original Off-Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2016 Lucille Lortel Awards[3][21] Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play Reed Birney Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play Jayne Houdyshell Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play Lauren Klein Nominated
Outstanding Scenic Design David Zinn Nominated
Outstanding Lighting Design Justin Townsend Nominated
Outstanding Sound Design Fitz Patton Nominated
Drama Desk Awards[22][23] Outstanding Play Won
Drama Desk Special Award for Outstanding Ensemble Won
Director of a Play Joe Mantello Nominated
Lighting Design for a Play Justin Townsend Won
Sound Design in a Play Fitz Patton Won
Obie Awards[24] Playwriting Stephen Karam Won
Distinguished Performance by an Actress Jayne Houdyshell Won

Original Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2016 Tony Awards[25][26] Best Play Won
Best Featured Actor in a Play Reed Birney Won
Best Featured Actress in a Play Jayne Houdyshell Won
Best Scenic Design in a Play David Zinn Won
Best Lighting Design in a Play Justin Townsend Nominated
Best Direction of a Play Joe Mantello Nominated
Pulitzer Prize[20] Drama Nominated
Drama League Awards[27][28] Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play Won
Distinguished Performance Reed Birney Nominated
Jayne Houdyshell Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Awards[29][30]
Outstanding New Broadway Play Won
Outstanding Actor in a Play Reed Birney Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Play Jayne Houdyshell Nominated
Outstanding Director of a Play Joe Mantello Nominated
New York Drama Critics Circle[31][32] Best Play Won

Film adaptation[edit]

A film adaptation of the play, written and directed by Karam, began production in September 2019. It was released in November 2021.


  1. ^ Sommer, Elyse (March 2, 2016). "The Humans". A CurtainUp Review. curtainup.com.
  2. ^ Jones, Chris (November 18, 2014). "'The Humans' at American Theater Company". Chicago review. Chicago Tribune.
  3. ^ a b "The Humans". Internet Off-Broadway Database. Retrieved June 27, 2022.
  4. ^ Hetrick, Adam; Clement, Olivia (June 23, 2016). "The Humans will transfer to Broadway's Schoenfeld Theatre". Playbill. Archived from the original on June 24, 2016.
  5. ^ Hetrick, Adam; Clement, Olivia (9 August 2016). "The Humans reopens at Broadway's Schoenfeld Theatre". Playbill. Archived from the original on 10 August 2016.
  6. ^ Gans, Andrew (January 15, 2017). "Tony-Winning Humans Ends Broadway Run". Playbill.
  7. ^ "2016 Winners". Obie Awards. Retrieved June 27, 2022.
  8. ^ Clement, Olivia (November 24, 2015). "The Humans Finds Its Broadway Home and Sets Dates". Playbill. Retrieved June 27, 2022.
  9. ^ Clement, Olivia (3 January 2016). "Stephen Karam's family drama The Humans readies for Broadway". Playbill. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  10. ^ Viagas, Robert (February 18, 2016). "The Verdict: See What the Critics Had to Say About The Humans on Broadway". Playbill. Archived from the original on February 20, 2016.
  11. ^ Rawson, Christopher (November 19, 2017). "'The Humans' dishes out comedy with familial discord at Pittsburgh Public Theater". Stage review. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  12. ^ "The Humans". Artists Repertory Theatre. Retrieved June 27, 2022.
  13. ^ Paulson, Michael (December 1, 2016). "Tony-winning play 'The Humans' will close on Broadway Jan. 15". The New York Times.
  14. ^ Gans, Andrew (October 24, 2017). "Richard Thomas, Daisy Eagan, and more set for national tour of 'The Humans'". Playbill. Archived from the original on October 25, 2017.
  15. ^ "The Humans Tour Schedule & Production Info". broadwayworld.com. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  16. ^ Billington, Michael (September 7, 2018). "'The Humans' review – family dinner turns to schlock in uneasy drama". The Guardian.
  17. ^ "'Off the Dock Players Brings 'The Humans' to the Lakes Region". The Laconia Daily Sun. February 12, 2020.
  18. ^ "Stephen Karam's The Humans opens on Broadway – all the Reviews!". Review Roundup. broadwayworld.com. February 18, 2016.
  19. ^ Green, Jesse (February 18, 2016). "The Humans and Old Hats, polar opposites of excellence". Theater Reviews. Vulture.
  20. ^ a b "The Humans, by Stephen Karam". Pulitzer.org. Retrieved June 27, 2022.
  21. ^ "2016 Lucille Lortel Award Nominations Announced". Playbill. March 30, 2016. Retrieved June 27, 2022.
  22. ^ Viagas, Robert (April 28, 2016). "She Loves Me Leads Drama Desk Nominations". Playbill. Archived from the original on April 29, 2016.
  23. ^ Cox, Gordon. "2016 Drama Desk Awards: ‘Shuffle Along,’ ‘The Humans’ Come Out on Top (Full List)" Variety, June 5, 2016
  24. ^ Gans, Andrew (May 23, 2016). "Winners Announced for 61st Annual Obie Awards". Playbill.
  25. ^ Viagas, Robert (June 12, 2016). "Hamilton Tops Tony Awards With 11 Wins". Playbill. Archived from the original on June 13, 2016.
  26. ^ "See Full List of 2016 Tony Award Nominations". Playbill. May 3, 2016. Archived from the original on May 4, 2016.
  27. ^ Gans, Andrew (April 20, 2016). "2016 Drama League Awards Nominations Announced". Playbill. Archived from the original on April 20, 2016.
  28. ^ Gans, Andrew (May 20, 2016). "Winners of Drama League Awards Announced". Playbill.
  29. ^ Viagas, Robert (April 19, 2016). "2016 Outer Critics Circle Nominees Announced". Playbill.
  30. ^ Viagas, Robert (May 9, 2016). "Bright Star and The Humans Win Top 2016 NY Outer Critics Circle Awards". Playbill.
  31. ^ "Shuffle Along and The Humans Win NY Drama Critics' Circle Awards". Playbill. May 5, 2016.
  32. ^ "Past Awards: 2015-2016". DramaCritics.org. Retrieved June 27, 2022.

External links[edit]