The audience was immediately drawn in to the play “Homos, or Everyone in America” by the minimalistic set consisting of only a bed, a table, a chair and a record player. The play, performed on Oct 4 and 5 in the Hill Theater, weaves a nonlinear story of a gay couple living in New York City. The content shifts rapidly from humorous to melancholy to heartwarming, keeping the audience sharply involved at every turn.
Director Garrick Schultz ’20 was drawn to this play in particular for his senior thesis because of its unconventional structure and style, feeling that it allowed room for imagination. The script includes only four characters, jumps back and forth through time to unexpected moments and even alternates between perspectives for certain scenes.
For Schultz, one of the biggest struggles in directing was learning to adapt his vision over the course of the production process. In the end, he feels proud of the final result. “Sometimes when I look at a play I’ll be so inspired I’ll see images in my head of how I want it to look, and then, when I actually get a chance to put those on stage and see those images on stage, it’s the coolest thing in the world,” said Schultz.
Acting in “Homos, Or Everyone in America” was challenging for Oubadah Alwan ’20 because of how personal the play’s commentary on sexuality felt. “I was really uncomfortable performing in this play … I didn’t think that would be the case when I chose it,” said Alwan. “I was super excited for it … but I feel like acceptance is a lifelong journey. I grew up in a very conservative household and so I’m still learning to undo a lot of the things that I was socialized into believing, a lot of the internalized homophobia. So getting on the stage and beginning the rehearsal process in front of all these people was a very vulnerable experience for me.”
The two main characters (both unnamed) seek throughout the play to understand what their sexuality means to them on an individual level. The show addresses the ways in which personal struggles can be made global and how quickly we can become part of a larger story. The characters experience this shock firsthand when one of them is victim to a devastating hate crime that turns into a widely-recognized news story.
This play was a personal reminder for Alwan of the ways that he can still grow in his awareness of his own identity. Despite how safe he feels with his sexuality here at Kenyon, there are still parts of him that struggle with it. “In the process of this play I feel like I’ve grown a lot more comfortable with myself and with my identity,” he said. “I guess I’ve come to terms with … not knowing what I am yet, or what that identity is.”
Both Alwan and Schultz commented on the importance of collaboration and conversation throughout the production process. They learned to communicate their personal artistic opinions as well as work with the other actors and crew to create a final product that bears significance for each individual involved in the process.
“Homos, Or Everyone in America” is a story of communication on a fundamental level. It speaks to the familiar struggles that appear in human relationships of all kinds, and the ways that we overcome them through love and shared tragedy. The play speaks not only to the actors and crew, but also to the audience members in a touching, heartbreaking and deeply genuine way.