This Post is About the Human Condition

I had been thinking a lot last month about the silly cliches we use to tell people about the shows we produce, largely inspired by a post by Howard Sherman.

There are some gems on there. Oh, and there’s a follow up post with even more good ones.

Then I stumbled across an article on LA Stage Times about Waiting For Godot.

…talks about what he focused on while directing – “revealing human condition through real character and behavior.”

What the fudge does that mean? Everything is about the human condition. Why just say “we’re doing a play with people in it.” OH GOOD. THANK GOD IT’S NOT CATS.

Howard Sherman defines it as…

“It’s about the human condition” = a) we don’t understand it at all, or b) if we told you what it’s actually about, you wouldn’t come.

I think that’s pretty much accurate. But what’s worse than hearing it from the director talking about his work is a marketer using it to try to motivate people to come see the show. Their plan must be following:

A patron gets a postcard in the mail from a theatre company he occasionally attends. He looks at the the title on the front with his usual disinterest when reading mail. He turns it over and reads the brief summary; suddenly he is filled with energy. “Hey honey! So-and-so Theatre has a play about the human condition! Let’s get tickets.”

Now that I think about it, I doubt that marketer (or whoever wrote the copy on that postcard) put that much effort into thinking it through.

My father recently told me about a positive experience he had with a local theatre. “It had everything I liked in a play: comedy, drama, and an intermission.” You know what I’m gonna tell him the next time I’ve got a play I want him to see?

Know thy audience.

But before I wrap up…. just WHAT IS THE HUMAN CONDITION?

Wikipedia says

the Human Condition is “The human condition encompasses the unique and inescapable features of being human in a social, cultural, and personal context. It can be described as the irreducible part of humanity that is inherent and not connected to factors such as gender, race or class. It includes concerns such as a search for purpose, search for gratification, sense of curiosity, the inevitability of isolation, or the fear of death.”

Oh, got it. I love shows about that stuff.

What silly things have you heard people say about shows?