I'm on the subway home tonight and I see these ads for a new NOVA series, Becoming Human. "How to Become Human in 6 Million Simple Steps," the signs say, above witty little cave drawings of man at various stages of development. I am intrigued. When I was deciding on my tagline ("performance to promote the human spirit"), it took me awhile to choose between the various terms and elements of the phrase. Spirit, performance, the many meanings of the word promote. But "human" was integral.
At its core, I believe that theater exists to teach us how to be human. The earliest theater was probably a show-and-tell of sorts after the hunt: here's what happened; aren't we awesome; watch and learn, boys.
I use the phrase "human being" fairly often in my daily life (ie, "Whew! Feel like a human being again after that shower" or "Could you chill out and just be a human being for a second?") and I even toyed for awhile with some sort of "human being/being human" spin for the tagline. All my time spent offstage is obviously part of life (the majority of it, in fact). I learn from experience how to be a daughter, a sister, a friend, an aunt, a girlfriend, a coworker, a subordinate, a leader. I learn what those stories are so that I can tell them later. I desire, I risk, I falter, I triumph. But more than that, I just am.
I am a vessel for the most poignant, the most true parts of the human experience, so that audiences can recognize that in themselves and their lives and be led to a deeper recognition of it in others. Is it too much to ask or hope for? Perhaps. But we are all here, going through this human experience together. It may have taken us six million steps to get here... what are we going to do with it?