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From the Artistic Director: The Humans

From the Artistic Director: The Humans

The New York premiere of Stephen Karam's The Humans, a new play directed by Joe Mantello begins previews September 30 as the first production at the Laura Pels Theatre in this 50th Anniversary season.

It feels wonderfully appropriate to be doing new work from Stephen Karam as part of this celebratory year. He is, after all, probably the living playwright who's had the greatest impact on this theatre. It was reading Stephen's first play, Speech & Debate, that prompted me to launch the Roundabout Underground program to produce and support emerging playwrights. The success of that play meant that the Underground would continue, and here we are years later with 9 more young writers having their careers launched through that program.

Stephen's next work, Sons of the Prophet, was commissioned and developed by Roundabout, and it's a play that I feel so proud to have produced. Stephen was deservedly named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for that work, and I immediately commissioned him once again to write a new play for this theatre. The result of that commission: The Humans.

What you'll see on stage in The Humans is a fairly average family, in a fairly average apartment, celebrating a fairly average Thanksgiving holiday. They have the kinds of everyday exchanges we all have with our loved ones, the kinds that pass on by without leaving a particular memory behind. But what Stephen does so beautifully in this play, and in all of his work, is to find subtle ways to make us acutely aware of what lurks beneath these seemingly normal events. He's getting at something that, like it or not, drives us all in one way or another: fear.

Touching on class, health, love, religion, loneliness, aging, and so much more, Stephen has created a world in which we see deeply complicated people at both their best and their worst, sharing an immense capacity for humor and the immense tolerance for pain required to keep moving forward in any ordinary life. These characters feel like people I know incredibly well, and yet they are written with such loving nuance that they simultaneously feel completely unique.

Stephen has created a truly stunning piece of theatre with this new play, and to have the gifted Joe Mantello directing it makes for a perfect match. A Tony-winner of endless range in his work, Joe has given us his iconic production of Assassins, his wildly popular Wicked, and his heart-wrenching onstage turn in The Normal Heart, among countless others. He is one of the best theatre artists working today, and I couldn't be happier to have him returning to Roundabout to bring The Humansto life.

New work from brilliant young voices like Stephen Karam has become an essential part of what we do at Roundabout, and I am so glad that this playwright is being featured in our 50th Anniversary season. I hope that you will share your thoughts on this play by emailing me I truly value all of your feedback.

I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!


Todd Haimes
Artistic Director

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