'The Humans' will make its local debut at the Ormond Beach Performing Arts Center on Nov. 14.
Meet the Blakes.
Two parents, two daughters, a boyfriend and a grandmother with dementia. The three generations of Blakes laugh together and they cry together.
This fictional family make up the characters at the heart of "The Humans," a 2016 Tony Award-winning play written by Stephen Karam. "The Humans" tells the story of the Blakes' Thanksgiving at the New York apartment belonging to their youngest daughters, but the play departs from the typical narrative of families unravelling over dinner. In contrast, the Blakes pull tighter together.
“These are people who have worked to build something that they see as very worthwhile and they would defend that with their lives," said Bethany Stillion, of Ormond Beach, who plays mom Deirdre Blake in the show.
The family is about love, devotion, commitment and "bouncing back," she said. It's a premise she believes many in the audience will be able to relate to.
“It’s interesting that it’s called ‘The Humans,’ and I think it’s really show that any human being is going to find themselves reflected in," Stillion said. "It is truly an exploration of the human.”
The show is directed by Beau Wade of Flagler Beach, and is produced by Positively Florida Theater Co., a local live theater group. With Positively Florida doing all pop-up theater, the set needed for "The Humans" has posed a challenge. The show needs a two-story set; Positively Florida will be building it just a few days before opening at the Ormond Beach performing Arts Center.
“it’s been really exhilarating to take this story and bring it to life, especially because we’re working with a two-story set, which you don’t often get to do," Wade said.
This will be his second full-length show acting as director. The first, "Hand of God" at the City Repertory Theatre in Palm Coast aided in him landing the directing role in "The Humans." CPT is a much smaller theater compared to the Performing Arts Center, Wade said, “but it’s been a fun challenge.”
Stillion said she and the whole cast have been impressed with Wade's vision and clarity for the show.
And when it comes to the six-person cast, they're onstage for the full play. Terence Van Auken, Port Orange resident and president of The Stage at Thank You Five, plays father Eric Blake in "The Humans." He called the show "an amalgam of American values."
“I knew I wanted to do the play the minute I read it," Van Auken said.
The cast has been rehearsing for about five weeks, but won't get to actually run through the show on the actual set until it's built. That's a little daunting, Van Auken said.
The cast is up to the challenge, however, and Wade has high hopes for the audience.
“I think that everyone that gets a chance to come see the show will leave the theater with a newfound appreciation for their own family and for life in general," he said.