Playwrights Horizons Presents Lucas Hnath's THE THIN PLACE Directed By Les Waters
Playwrights Horizons continues its 2019/20 season with Lucas Hnath's The Thin Place, directed by Les Waters. Since The Christians made its New York premiere at Playwrights Horizons in 2015, Hnath has received acclaim for two major Broadway productions (A Doll's House, Part 2 and Hillary and Clinton). He now returns to Playwrights with his most arrestingly intimate work to date. In the burgeoning friendship between two women-one who's recently experienced a strange loss, and another who communicates with the dead-Hnath crafts an unnerving testament to the power of the mind, and one mind's power to influence others. The Thin Place makes its New York premiere at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Playwrights Horizons (416 W 42nd St), running November 22, 2019, through January 5, 2020.
The Thin Place is the story of two women, Hilda and Linda. Linda communicates, professionally, with the dead, who are still here, just in a different part of here, in the thin place. She can make those who believe hear them, offering them peace and closure and meaning. Originally from rural England, she's reestablished herself in the U.S.-birthplace of spiritualism-where she has continued to build a career out of her gift. Hilda, a keen listener and observer who's grappling with loss, takes a great interest in Linda's abilities. She befriends the veteran medium, seeking answers that lie across the fragile boundary between our world and the other one.
Hnath's play bristles with disquieting suggestion, probing the most timeless questions about reality, the impressionability of the mind, and the omnipresence of death as we float through life. Ever gifted at taking the pulse of the world around him, Hnath matches these universals with a timely resonance, distilling collective feelings of national chaos-and our political and spiritual vulnerabilities therein-to a chillingly personal scale.
The Thin Place began only as a name-brought up in a conversation between Lucas Hnath and Les Waters (former Artistic Director of The Actors Theatre of Louisville; Playwrights: The Christians; Broadway: In the Next Room (or the vibrator play)), when Waters and Hnath were workshopping another of Hnath's plays. Waters referred to a moment of that play as existing in a "thin place," and when Hnath asked him to explain, he said, "The place where the line between this world and some other world is very thin." In the town where Waters grew up, he recalled, there were several thin places. Hnath wrote it down as a title for a play that did not yet exist, with the intention-for when whatever it was came into being-of having Waters direct it.
"While Les is able to more easily make room for mystery, I'm more obsessively analytical," says Hnath. "So very intentionally I tried to make this material come from the unconscious mind. I wanted to write something that would scare me-but I don't know that I can do that while I'm fully in my analytical mode. A monster does not scare me, but psychology, mind control, possession stories-those uncanny spaces that tie the most obviously into spiritualism-do. I had to work myself into a state of fear and deep anxiety to find my way into this play."
Waters adds, "Lucas and I both have a real interest in minimalism-in, say, using as little as theatrically possible to create an emotional effect, whether that's uncertainty or fear. How do audience members participate in conjuring that environment?"
Commissioned by The Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Thin Place made its world premiere at the Humana Festival, where Insider Louisville called it "a marvel" and Broadway World praised the play for the questions it asks, saying they "will perhaps never be answered, but the best horror allows us, tricks us, into thinking about them, and forces us into at least beginning to find some answers for ourselves."
The Thin Place runs November 22, 2019 through January 5, 2020, and officially opens on Thursday, December 12, 2019. For a full schedule, visit phnyc.org.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Broski