"" - Chicago Tribune

"Highly Recommended" - Sun-Times

"deeply honest, intensely connected, lived-in performances" - Time Out Chicago

The Humans

New York City. Today. After a sleepless night, Mr. Blake brings his family from Pennsylvania to celebrate Thanksgiving at his daughter's new apartment. As darkness falls outside the crumbling pre-war duplex, mysterious things start to go bump in the night and family tensions reach a boiling point.



Playwright Stephen Karam (columbinus, Sons of the Prophet, Speech & Debate) takes a fresh look at the hilarity, heart and horrors of the modern American family.

Join us for the world premiere of this new play just in time for the holiday season! Running November 14 - December 21, The Humans is produced here under special arrangement with New York's Roundabout Theatre Company where it will premiere in New York next season.

Wed, Thurs, Sun Evenings: $48/ticket
Sat, Sun Matinees, Fri, Sat Evenings: $60/ticket

design team

Stephen Karam (Playwright) is the author of Sons of the Prophet, a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and the recipient of the 2012 Drama Critics Circle, Outer Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel and Hull-Warriner Awards for Best Play. Other plays include Speech & Debate, the inaugural production of Roundabout Underground; columbinus (New York Theatre Workshop); and the libretto for Dark Sisters, an original chamber opera with composer Nico Muhly. Karam is a MacDowell Colony fellow and the recipient of the inaugural Sam Norkin Off-Broadway Drama Desk Award. He teaches graduate playwriting at The New School. He grew up in Scranton, PA and is a graduate of Brown University.


PJ Paparelli (Director/Artistic Director) is in his eighth season as Artistic Director of American Theater Company. His ATC directing credits include Hair, Sons of the Prophet, columbinus (Five Jeff Nominations), The Catholic Rep: Doubt & Agnes of God, The Original Grease (Jeff Award for Best Musical), Escape, The Amish Project, Distracted, Yeast Nation (the new musical from the writers of Urinetown), Hedwig and the Angry Inch, The Black & White Rep: True West (Caucasian & African American casts), and the regional premiere of Speech & Debate (Jeff Nomination). He made New City’s “Top 50 Most Influential Theatre Players in Chicago ‘08, ‘11, & ’13.” His ATC writing credits include columbinus and Every Year is This Year, which was co-written by Maria Irene Fornes for ATC’s The Silver Project. He is currently developing The Project(s), a documentary play on the history of Chicago’s public housing.

From 2004-07, he was the Artistic Director of Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, Alaska. During his tenure, Perseverance expanded its staff, completed a $1.1M facility expansion/renovation and a $1M endowment campaign, and sent productions Off-Broadway, to Washington DC, and around the country. His directing credits include Equus, The Who’s Tommy, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Hair, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Voyage, and columbinus. PJ conceived and co-adapted Raven Odyssey, a theatrical journey of Alaska Native Raven stories, gathered through interviews with Elders across the state.

In 2002, PJ conceived, co-wrote, and directed columbinus, a documentary-style play about modern adolescence through the lens of the Columbine Shootings. The play had its world premiere at Round House Theatre and Perseverance Theatre, and moved off-Broadway to New York Theatre Workshop. Ten years later, PJ returned to Littleton, Colorado to re-interview survivors and write a third act, which premiered at ATC and toured to ArtsEmerson in Boston. columbinus was nominated for 2 Lucille Lortel Awards, 5 Helen Hayes Awards, and 5 Joseph Jefferson Awards and has seen over 100 productions around the world.

From 1998-2004, he served as the Associate Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC, where his directing credits include Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, Love Letters (with Dixie Carter and Hal Holbrook), All’s Well That Ends Well (Classical Acting Conservatory), The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Merchant of Venice at the Shakespeare Free For All. He was associate director on Much Ado About Nothing starring Karen Ziemba, and The Oedipus Plays starring Avery Brooks at the Athens Festival in Greece. In 2011, he returned to direct The Two Gentlemen of Verona for the Theatre’s 25th anniversary. His DC productions include Romeo and Juliet (The Folger), a collaboration with Terrence McNally on a new version of Corpus Christi at Source Theatre (2003 GLAAD Media Award), The Diaries (Signature Theatre) and Love’s Labour’s Lost (Washington Shakespeare). The Washington Post called PJ, “One of the most exciting talents working in Washington.” 

Other directing credits include Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis), Twelfth Night at Shakespeare Santa Cruz (2005 Newsweek’s Top 5 summer productions), The Merchant of Venice (American Shakespeare Center), Escape (Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival), Action (Circle Rep) and True West in Russian at the Moscow Art Theatre School. He has worked in education/administration at The Public Theater, Pittsburgh Public, and Circle Rep, and has directed and/or taught Shakespeare at The Juilliard School, the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College, NC School of the Arts, U of Alaska, UNC at Chapel Hill, Catholic U, U Penn, and Johns Hopkins University. He holds a BFA in Directing from Carnegie Mellon University and graduate studies in acting at the Moscow Art Theatre School. He is a member of SDC and is represented by Creative Artists Agency in New York.


Sarah Gitenstein (Assistant Director) is theAssociate Artistic Director at The Newand a company member atCollaboraction Theater. She is an actor and director in Chicago andfrom Kenyonwith a degree in.credits include work at, American Theater Company(Big Shoulders Festival),Group (Amuse Bouche), andGardens Theater (One Minute Play).directed theNominated production of The New’sKate and Sam Are Not Breaking Upand the-Broadwaynational tour of5aQuiche,as well as the Chicago remount through the Chicago Commercial Collective.


Brittany Dee Bodley (Costume Designer) is returning to ATC after designingHairand serving as assistant costume designer forSons of the Prophet. Brittany earned her M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in Design and currently works as the Costume Designer/Shop manager for Northbrook Theatre where she has designed 20+ shows. She is a proud Strawdog Theatre Company Member and her most recent designs include: Great Expectations, The Arsonists, andCharles Ives Take Me Home(Strawdog Theatre),Tintypes(Open Door Rep), H.M.S. Pinafore(G&S Society),Dreams of Antigone(College of Dupage), andAfter(Profiles Theatre).


Patrick Bley (Sound Designer) is proud to be a part of this great team on The Humans. Patrick's work has been heard in and around Chicago with: Bailiwick Chicago, Pride Films and Plays, The Music Theatre Company, and regionally with Pioneer Theatre Company (Salt Lake City, UT) and Timber Lake Playhouse (Mount Carroll, IL).recently Patrick designed The Wild Party with Bailiwick Chicago where he also serves as the Resident Sound Designer.


Brian Hoehne (Lighting Designer) returns to ATC after designingLet Me Down Easy, Mercy Strain, andHair. Recent designs include The Wild Party,Dessa Rose(Bailiwick Chicago);A View From The Bridge(Teatro Vista);The Wizard of Oz, Nutcracker, Schoolhouse Rock Live!(Marriott Theatre);Master Class, Chess(Theo Ubique);Parade(Boho Theatre);Spamalot, Buddy!, West Side Story(Timber Lake Playhouse).


David Ferguson (Scenic Designer) last worked on scenery for Hair and Welcome to Arroyo’s at ATC and is happy to be on the team for The Humans. Other recent credits include scenery for InFusion Theatre Co.’s Soul Samurai and Fight Girl Battle World, The Black Ensemble’s The Other Cinderella, The Little Shop of Horrors at Stage773, Pyewacket’s The Gardens of Frau Hess (Jeff Nomination) and for Coast of Chicago at Lookingglass Theatre, as well as lighting design for A Beheading in Spokane at Profiles, Weapons of Mass Impact at A Red Orchid Theatre, Mistress Cycle at The Auditorium Theatre, and High School Musical at Metropolis PAC. He would like to say thanks to his most awesome 10 and 7 year old theatrical consultants Megan & Eliot.


Amanda J. Davis* (Stage Manager) is excited to work with ATC for the first time onThe Humans.Previous Chicago credits includeA Q Brothers' Christmas Carol, The Merry Wives of Windsor,Shakespeare in the Parks: The Comedy of Errors,Murder for Twoat Chicago Shakespeare Theater;42ndat Theatre at the Center; GroundedandThe Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobswith the ETOPiA project;Fugitive Songsat The Music Theatre Company;Rose and the Timeat The House Theatre of Chicago; andThe Marriage of Figaroat Remy Bumppo Theatre Company. Amanda is a proud Northwestern graduate.

member of SDC    

    * member of AEA

the ensemble

Lance Baker* (Richard) has appeared at ATC in Doubt and Speed the Plow. Other Chicago credits include Thom Pain (based on nothing) (Theater Wit); King Lear, Henry VIII and Amadeus (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Invisible Man and Travesties (Court Theatre); The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs (16th Street); Becky Shaw and Hunger and Thirst (A Red Orchid Theatre); Mauritius and Lady (Northlight Theatre); A Steady Rain (Chicago Dramatists); Dollhouse and Lobby Hero (Goodman Theatre); Up Against It (Lookingglass Theatre); This is Our Youth and Dealer's Choice (Roadworks); and Mad Forest (Remains). Regional credits include Around the World in 80 Days (Lookingglass/KC Rep); Fanny Brice: the Real Funny Girl (Asolo/Maltz); Sleuth and The Fox on the Fairway (Theater at the Center); and Ecstasy (Odyssey). He has received one Joseph Jefferson Award and one After Dark Award. He was the director for The Earl and co-director of A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant, both at A Red Orchid Theatre, where he is an ensemble member.


Hanna Dworkin* (Deirdre Blake) was last seen at ATC in Distracted, also directed by PJ Paparelli. Chicago credits include Picnic (Writers Theatre); Ghetto, Early and Often, The Living, Remembrance, Mann Ist Mann, Pride's Crossing, Hellcab, A Yard of Sun (Famous Door); Humble Boy (Remy Bumppo Theatre), Mornings at Seven (Drury Lane); Pulp (About Face Theatre); 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, Saturday Stories (A Red Orchid Theatre); The Laramie Project, Welcome Home Jenny Sutter (Next Theatre); Refuge and From a Fading Light (Plasticene). Regional credits include A...My Name is Alice (Madison Repertory), The Red Shoes, The Clown of God, and The Cookie Jar (Minneapolis Children's Theatre Company). Recent television credits include Detroit 187, Boss, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, and the upcoming Netflix series, Sense8. Dworkin can also be seen in the upcoming film Henry Gamble's Birthday Party.


Keith Kupferer* (Erik Blake) makes his ATC debut in The Humans. Other Chicago credits include The Qualms, Good People, Middletown, South of Settling, Of Mice & Men, Carter's Way, Men of Tortuga, Things Being What They Are, Jesus Hopped The A Train and Tavern Story (Steppenwolf Theatre); God of Carnage, High Holidays, Sarah Ruhl's Passion Play and The Old Neighborhood (Goodman Theatre); Appropriate (Victory Gardens Theater); Gypsy (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Execution of Justice (About Face Theatre); Cat Feet and The Old Neighborhood (Northlight Theatre); Desire Under The Elms, a co-production between Philadelphia's Freedom Theatre and Chicago's Court Theatre; and the long running hit, Shear Madness. Kupferer is a founding member of Rivendell Theatre Ensemble where he has performed in nine productions since 1996 and was most recently seen in their world premiere production of American Wee-Pie. Other Chicago credits include The Unseen, The Meek, Canus Lunis Balloonis (for which he was nominated for a 1998 Joseph Jefferson award for Best Ensemble), and The Physicists (A Red Orchid Theatre); and Big Lake, Big City, Trust and Hillbilly Antigone (Lookingglass Theatre). Film credits include the latest Ron Howard project, The Dilemma; Dark Knight; Public Enemies; The Express; Stranger Than Fiction; Road to Perdition directed by Sam Mendes; Fred Klaus; The Last Rights of Joe May; The Merry Gentleman directed by Michael Keaton; and the soon-to-be-released films Finding Santa; Resurrecting McGinn; and Open Tables. TV credits include ABC's Betrayal; NBC's Crisis and Chicago Fire; ABC's Detroit 187; A&E's The Beast; the Fox series Prison Break; The Jamie Kennedy Experiment on WB; and the CBS series Early Edition.


Jean Moran (Fiona "Momo" Blake) makes her American Theater Company debut in The Humans. Other Chicago area credits include Little Women (Drury Lane); Float (Theater Wit); and Sketchbook 10 (Collaboraction), in addition to substantial UK credits including The Chicago Seven (Open Space Theatre); The Mousetrap (Ambassador Theatre); A Flea in Her Ear (Blackfriars Theatre); and the touring company of The Tender Trap. Radio & TV credits include Listen to the Drums on BBC TV; Johnny Appleseed on BBC Radio; Crime Story on NBC; Double Cross on Discovery; and Z Cars on Granada TV.  Film credits include Raising the Roof for Shepperton Studios.


Kelly O'Sullivan* (Brigid Blake), an ensemble member of American Theater Company, has performed at ATC in columbinus and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs. She is a Princess Grace Awards winner for 2014-2015 Other theater credits include The Internationalist, Honest, Good Boys and True, The Crucible, and 100 Saints You Should Know (Steppenwolf Theatre); The Seagull (Goodman Theatre); Hesperia (Writers Theatre); My Wonderful Day - Barrymore Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play (The Wilma Theatre); The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Northlight Theatre); Jon and Sketchbook 7 (Collaboraction); The Glory of Living (Profiles Theatre); and Mr. Marmalade—Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination for Principal Actress in a Play (Dog & Pony Theatre). She has acted at the Pacific Playwrights Festival and the Ojai Playwrights Conference. TV credits include The Mob Doctor, Battleground and the character "Voodoo" on Sirens.  Film credits include In Memoriam, Jessica, Offsides and Henry Gamble's Birthday Party.


Sadieh Rifai* (Aimee Blake), ATC credits include: The Amish Project, columbinus, The Catholic Rep- Doubt/Agnes of God, The Original Grease, Welcome to Arroyo's, Yitzahk inHedwig and the Angry Inch, It'sWonderful Life: The Radio Play, and Diwata in Speech & Debate(After Dark Award for Out-standing Performance). Other Chicago credits include: Ski Dubai (Steppenwolf First look) The Piano Teacher (Next Theatre)the role of Johnna inAugust: Osage County (Steppenwolf Theatre) and Noorani in Merchant on Venice(Silk Road Theatre). Sadieh is a graduate of the School at Steppenwolf (2006). Her film credits include: the award winning Wise Kids (New Fest, Out Fest and NYC LGBT Film Festival) and Nate and Margaret. Sadieh received the Princess Grace Award in 2011. You can check out her website at http://www.sadiehrifai.com. Much love to Mom, Adal and Doug.




  for Ms. O’Sullivan: Anne Brady

  for Ms. Dworkin: Maggie Speer

  for Ms. Moran: Ariel Brenner

  for Ms. Rifai: Colleen DeRosa

  for Mr. Baker: Mickey O’Sullivan

  for Mr. Kupferer: Stephen Scalabrino                       

member of SDC    

    * member of AEA

Letter from PJ

Dear Friends,

Welcome to American Theater Company’s Season 30 and the world premiere of The Humans by Stephen Karam.

Few adults would dispute that America’s last five years haven’t been easy.  While the economy has finally turned around, we still feel the wounds of the Recession.  In addition to our savings and investments, financial distress has put an enormous strain on the ones we love. While they are there for us when the world without crashes, the world within carries a financial burden of its own. From childcare and college loans at the beginning of life, to retirement and healthcare at the end, “Where is the money coming from?” is the question that stresses most American families.

The Humans is a theatrical observation of family.  Stephen has crafted a ninety-minute play—in real time—that allows the audience to peer into an American family at Thanksgiving.  It laughs. It fights. It fears. It loves. It pushes us away as it pulls us in.  While we sit and watch this family eat, we cannot help but think of our own.  The familiar aspects of family become the most fascinating to examine. We are often too deep inside to even notice how strangely we act and how valuable it truly is.

ATC is proud to continue its long association with Stephen Karam.  The Humans marks the fourth play of Stephen’s that we have produced (Speech & Debate, columbinus, and Sons of the Prophet).  We are grateful to the Roundabout Theatre Company for allowing their commission to have its world premiere here in Chicago before it is produced next season in New York.  The Humans marks ATC’s fifth consecutive premiere that has received productions at the nation’s most prestigious venues.  Last month, Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar—a play that was developed and received its premiere at ATC in 2013—opened on Broadway, a milestone for ATC and another feather in Chicago’s artistic cap.  Season 30 continues in 2015 with two more premieres: The Royale, an explosive new play from a writer of HBO’s Orange is the New Black, and The Project(s), ATC’s latest documentary play that takes us into the heart of Chicago’s public housing communities.  While new work is the most risky endeavor a theatre can pursue, ATC’s passionate pursuit of new work thrives because of you, our supporters and patrons.  You come. You give. You believe.  And that’s why ATC can celebrate thirty years of asking the question, “What does it mean to be an American?”

Thank you for your patronage. We are so glad you are here.

Your Artistic Director,


"The best new play of the year." -Chicago Tribune

"Run, don't walk, to the box office before you're too stuffed with turkey. And if you have guests next week and you want them to understand what Chicago theater means to this town...well, here is your show."" --Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

'One of those great, no-holds-barred, low-budget, intimate, hyper-realistic, unglamorous, unflashy, only-possible-in-Chicago ensemble productions' --Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

"A great deal more occurs during the course of this Thanksgiving dinner that encompasses the full spectrum of life. And the wonder of it all is that Karam easily stuffs it all into just 95 minutes..." --Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times

"[Karam] knows that if you can't laugh at the human condition you might as well just hang yourself. And the excellent director PJ Paparelli, and his uniformly exceptional cast, are primed for the crazy ride of it all." --Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times

"Playwright Stephen Karam infuses the traditional kitchen-sink family drama with qualities of horror in his portentous and penetrating work of psychological unease..." --Variety

"" - Chicago Tribune

"Highly Recommended" - Sun-Times

"deeply honest, intensely connected, lived-in performances" - Time Out Chicago