DC Theatre Scene loves Humans!

DC Theatre Scene has named How to Be a Human a “pick of the fringe” and graced us with a rave review! Here’s the opening paragraph, to whet your appetite:

What does it take to open our hearts, express deepest thoughts, share and be vulnerable?  And what are the rewards if we can indeed get to that level of openness and honesty?  How to Be a Human explores just that in one of the most unique formats imaginable. Allow yourself 75 minutes and this amazing cast will take you on an unforgettable journey blurring the lines between story, your own approach to life, and life-changing affirmations.
You can read the rest of the review here:  http://dctheatrescene.com/2010/07/18/how-to-be-a-human/

And be sure to get your tickets for next weekend’s performances. With press like this, they won’t last long!

Published in: on July 18, 2010 at 9:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Win a Ticket to Opening Night!

Attention all humans!
You can win a ticket to the world premiere of How to Be a Human on Wednesday July 14th. The contest is simple. Just send an email to forhumansbyhumans@gmail.com answering the following question:
What’s a surprising lesson you’ve learned about life from a member of
your grandparents’ generation? And how did you learn it?

We’ll choose five winners by Tuesday afternoon, and we’ll email you if
you’re a winner! (Please be sure to include your email address when
replying, and a phone number where you can be reached.) By
participating in the contest, you agree that your entry (not including your contact info, of course!) may be posted
here on the blog. 

Published in: on July 11, 2010 at 5:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

We made the Post.

How about that? Today’s Style section of the Washington Post. The Going Out Guide.

Someone is guiding humans to our show! We have been working on this thing for a year, so it’s really exciting to think of that many more people knowing about what we are doing.

Oh, and on a related note, if any of you dear readers are night owls, please consider coming to the 10:30 PM show Friday July 23rd!

Yours in humanity,


Published in: on July 7, 2010 at 8:45 pm  Leave a Comment  


In support of our project.

Sunday, June 27th 6pm-10pm

The Looking Glass Lounge

3634 Georgia Avenue Northwest Washington, DC 20010


  • Old-timey trivia with Dalton, Quiz Master of Georgia Avenue!
  • Actors improvising your stories!
  • And, of course, libations!

Hope to see you there!

Published in: on June 26, 2010 at 12:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tickets! Tickets for sale! Get’em while they’re hot!

Visit this page to buy online or click the key image to the right of this post.

The show is coming along great and we can’t wait for you to see it!

Published in: on June 22, 2010 at 6:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

A big question:

What makes us human?

And, what experiences, practices, or characteristics help us to grow into fully realized human beings?

These are the questions that the ensemble of your favorite Fringe show is wrestling with these days. If we’re going to make a show with such a preposterous title as “How to Be a Human,” we’ll have to make some decisions about what topics to include. For example, we’re pretty sure we can’t talk about the human experience without talking about romantic love. Or, the experiences of war and destruction.

What do you think we should include?

To get you started, here are some musings from a close friend of the project, Bobbi Maiers. Melanie called her up one day last week to interrupt her morning with this unusual question. Being a lovely and thoughtful human, Bobbi kept thinking about it for some time, and emailed this a day or so later. Have a read, and join in with your own ideas about being human in the comments section!

The following musings are excerpted from an email from Mrs. Bobbi Maiers:

….part of what it means to be human is to care.

Yep, to care. No fireworks are going off, I know.

But it’s a simple statement that sums up a lot of things. To be human is to care about how and where we live. To care about how our life and our choices affect others and the planet. To care about doing what’s right rather than what’s easy — and to put forth that effort even when it’s exhausting, complicated and difficult, because you know it serves a greater good. Or is simply the right thing to do. And I think that sometimes caring is simply exhausting, in a world that bombards us with conflicting messages and information and research and options, options, options everywhere — it’s a complicated thing to care. For instance, in the context of this food issue, if I care about the workers suffering in a processing plant, or care about all humans having a basic standard of living and to not be treated as machines, then I have to care about all the things it takes to put that plan, that belief, that care, into action. I have to care about taking measures to effect some small change. I have to care enough to research what my options are and make better, more informed choices, and that takes time and energy and money. I have to care enough to deny myself some things in the interest of greater things. Which means I have to care enough to have willpower. I have to care enough to change my budget, the way I shop, the way I think about things, all sorts of random, small stuff.

When did being human get so complicated?

Of course this caring relates to every other facet of our lives — our food supply and the scary things that are happening are simply on my mind after watching that documentary. It translates to all manner of political issues (if I care about the healthcare issue, what do I do to live in a way, make choices in a way, that supports that care? etc. etc. …and social issues…and family/personal issues – everything.)

To be human is to take on the burden of caring, because we have a conscience, because we know when something is right and should be cared about, fought for, even if it’s scary or daunting or difficult or means a significant amount of change. So I guess that’s why I refer to it as the burden of caring. It’s overwhelming to care about everything at once — impossible, really. But I think it’s a pretty significant part of being human. A responsibility, you could say, if you want to live with conviction and intention.

So, now it’s your turn.

What makes us human?

Published in: on May 31, 2010 at 4:40 pm  Comments (1)  

Save the Dates!

Just a quick love note from your favorite humans—-
We’re officially 2 months from opening night! Mark your calendars for our five show run:
Wednesday July 14 @ 7:45pm
Friday July 16 @ 8pm
Friday July 23 @10:30pm
Saturday July 24 @ 5:30pm
Sunday July 25 @ 6:30pm
Performances will be at the Mount Vernon United Methodist Church 900 Masachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC  20001
Tickets go on sale June 21st. Box office information at http://www.capitalfringe.org/2010_box_office.html
Published in: on May 14, 2010 at 4:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Do-It-Yourself Oral Histories!

So, you’ve got some family members, neighbors, or friends who you’d like to interview, but you’re not sure how to get started? Fear not! Your How to be a Human co-directors have built this little guide to get you started, and we’ll share oodles of tips that we’ve picked up along the way.

Step One:

Relax! Conducting an oral history interview is easy, and the rewards are tremendous.

Step Two:

Think about your goals. Are there particular stories or pieces of information that you want to hear about? How important is it for you to make a record of the interview? Jot down a few thoughts about why this is important to you, your family, community, and maybe even future generations.

(Stop reading now. Go get some paper and WRITE!)

Take a look at what you’ve written. Chances are, some of your ideas overlap with one or more of these categories:

~To deepen my connection with my interviewee and understand more about his/her life

~To gather important stories and preserve them for future generations

~To learn more about who I am and where I come from

Step Three

Cook up your game plan!

Let your goals inform the choices you make about how to go about setting up the interview. For example:

If you want to preserve stories for future generations, you’ll want to think about recording the interview(s). See forthcoming post “notes on recording” for more information. (It’ll be up on the site in a day or two.)

If you want to deepen your connection with your interviewee, OR if you’re hoping to hear stories of a personal or traumatic nature (ex. war stories), it helps to get together more than once. As you and your interviewee become more comfortable, more and more stories will come forward, and your connection will deepen.

Concocting Your Plan:

~Where will you meet? The location should make your interviewee feel comfortable, and should be reasonably private so that you’re not interrupted.

~When will you meet? Think about what time of day your interviewee feels his or her best.

~Would you like to record the interview? Video or audio?

~Will you interview just one person at a time, or invite a small group to come together?

Step Four:

Set up the Interview!

Give your interviewee a call, or talk with him or her in-person if that’s possible. You can even tell her or him that you’ve gotten interested in oral histories because of this wacky theater project in DC that’s being created from interviews with seniors, and it got you thinking about interviewing people in your own life!

In one sentence, tell her or him what you’d like to do, and why. (Hint: take this straight from your goals and game plan!)

Example: “Grandpa, there are so many stories from your life that I’ve never heard, and I’d really love the chance to ask you about your life. Could I come over one day next week?”

If you want to record the interview, make sure to talk about that, too.

Example: “Would it be ok if I brought my video camera? I bet other people in the family would love to hear these stories, too.”

Make your request specific, and if your interviewee says “yes,” set up a date right away. Otherwise, it’s too easy for time to get away from you, and you lose the momentum of this initial conversation.

Step Five

Get Ready…

A day or two before the interview, go through this checklist:

___ Think about/ jot down a few questions you might like to ask to get the conversation started. (Use our sample questions as a springboard.)
___ Test out your recording equipment. Make sure you know how to operate it, and that you’ve got extra batteries and tapes if you need them.
___ Call your interviewee. Make sure they’re feeling good, and remember that you’re coming!

Step Six

How to have an Awesome Interview:

1. Relax. Smile. Take nice, slow breaths. Comfort is contagious, and the more comfortable you are, the more comfortable your interviewee will be. Make sure your interviewee knows that they can take a break at any time!

2. Set up any technology you’re using, then forget about it. Focus on what’s happening right now, in the room.

3. Slow down. Memories take time to come to the surface. Ask just one question at a time, and then just listen for a while. Avoid the temptation to jump in with a new question as soon as your interviewee finishes a sentence. Usually, there’s A LOT more where their answer came from, and you’ll never hear it if you jump to the next question right away.

4. Go with the flow. Your questions are really just a back-up plan, there to help you if you and your interviewee get stuck. Once the interview starts, you’ll find that the best questions often come to you in the moment, based on something interesting your interviewee said. Ask follow up questions like, “What did you do next?”, or “What did she look like?” or “Who else was there?” that will elicit more details and keep the story going.

5. Keep the focus on the interviewee. Resist the urge to talk about yourself!

6. Respect your interviewee’s boundaries. Never push someone to tell a story she doesn’t want to tell. Instead, focus on building a feeling of safety and rapport. Perhaps, some day in the future, she will decide to tell you—but that will only happen if you’ve respected her wishes.

7. When the interview feels like it’s winding down to an end, thank your interviewee for sharing their stories with you. If it seems like there’s a lot more to talk about, you can suggest the possibility of getting together again in the future to continue the conversation.

Step Seven

Build the movement!

Start out by writing a good, old-fashioned thank-you note to your interviewee. It’s classy, and it’ll make everybody feel good.

Tell your friends and family about your experience. Encourage others to conduct interviews of their own, and feel free to share this guide with them if they need some encouragement.

If your interviewee would like a copy of the session, be sure to provide them with one. Ask how you could share the interview with friends and family. Would it be ok, for example, to show a clip at the next holiday gathering?

Above all, let your inspiration and the needs of your interviewee guide what you do next. The possibilities for this kind of work are staggering!

Please keep us updated about your experiences in the comments section!

Your fellow humans,

Ali Miller and Melanie St. Ours

Published in: on April 25, 2010 at 6:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Join us at the Amnesty International Human Rights Arts Festival!

Exciting news! Your very own co-directors, Ali Miller and Melanie St. Ours, will be presenting a FREE workshop at the Amnesty International Human Rights Arts Festival! This is an exciting chance to meet the directors (and maybe even a cast member or two!) and become part of our creative tribe. Dive in with us and experience a taste of the process we’re using to build the play, while learning skills that you can use to collect oral histories of your own.  Check out the full festival program here: http://www.humanrightsartfestival.com/

Workshop Title: Our Histories: Story-gathering and Performance

Time: Sunday, April 25 from 2:30-4pm

Location: Dance Recital Studio (2nd Floor), Montgomery College Performing Arts Center

Workshop Description: As artists, advocates, and peace-builders, how do we cultivate oral histories of resistance, learn from our elders, and celebrate our identities? Using community-based theater and oral history processes, this workshop will create space for participants to learn theater and oral history techniques for use in community settings and to have a deep experience of the power of collectively co-creating original theater. Techniques to be used will include story circles, interview, Theater of the Oppressed, and group devising, culminating in new pieces of theatrical expression to be shared with the group. The workshop is given in conjunction with a larger playbuilding process that is currently ongoing in the Northwest One neighborhood of Washington DC entitled How to be a Human that will be presented at the Capital Fringe Festival 2010. There is space for up to 25 participants. Free and open to the public.

Published in: on April 17, 2010 at 11:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Who to Interview?

So, dear readers, which experienced human beings in your life would you interview if you had the chance?

Are there particular family members, friends, or mysterious elders in your neighborhood whose story intrigues you?

Tell us about them! What’s piqued your interest?

For extra credit, stay tuned to the blog for tips on conducting your very own oral history interviews.

Published in: on March 21, 2010 at 10:21 pm  Comments (1)