Timmia Hearn DeRoy
Please return here and contribute to the conversation after the show is finished!
This play is part of director Timmia DeRoy's dissertation research. She asks questions about how we tell stories, and for what purpose. Your thoughts will be anonymously included in her research and used to further advance knowledge about how we can and do use theatre as tool for healing around traumatic subject matter.
Post-Show Discussion: Regarding the Physical and the Conceptual
(It is suggested you wait to engage with this reading until after the performance.)
The actors of this production, namely the Somebodies, “exist” in several capacities throughout Everybody; from their pre-show college personas, to abstractions such as Friendship or Stuff, to inner monologues, to real and complex humans. Through these modes of being, the playwright allows room for discussion of both the conceptual and the practical, the internal and external, mental and physical. But what Branden Jacobs-Jenkins accomplishes in creating these playing states–a cerebral, existential, and grimly witty adaptation–pales in comparison to his accomplishment in crafting the exception to the rules he’s crafted: Everybody.
The actor playing Everybody serves as a constant, and for good reason: once confronted with mortality, the daunting, “big questions” of life and the real-world relationships you’ve forged both vie for your attention. Everybody exists in the metaphorical and actual spaces, and as such represents a very real, very scared human necessarily dealing with all these stressors, seen and unseen, simultaneously. In this way, Everybody contrasts the absurd, allegorical nature of the surrounding narrative, and allows room for the audience to identify with their struggle for “answers.”
Truly, the crux of Everybody are those interstitial scenes (absent in Everyman) which feature all the Somebodies as humans, having a conversation concerning racism and racialization. Here, the contrast between the physical and the conceptual is most apparent. As opposed to railing against the conceptual and theoretical (the universe, the reason for life, etc.), which Everybody does for a majority of the play, Everybody must contend with real, tangible conflict. Jacobs-Jenkins asks us how we deal with existentialism, mortality, and racism in a secluded, removed, abstract manner, versus how we confront death, identity discourse, and our interpersonal relationships in the everyday. And depending on who is voted to be Everybody, our answers must shift, as follows suit for a script that despises seeing the world in black and white.