Human: An Exploration of the Scientific and Socio-Cultural Factors that Influence What it Means to be Human
Theatre is a constantly evolving art form. Whereas two hundred years ago plays told the stories of the trials and tribulations of the elite ruling class, today’s shows are moving toward a focus of telling truthful human stories. Pulling from the practice of verbatim theatre which uses recordings of real-life people to tell a story, this project is centered around the question of what it means to be human and what we believe to be our place or purpose in the world. I am exploring this question in a twofold manner by examining it from both an objective and subjective perspective. For the first, I am looking at the concept of humanity from a scientific perspective, looking at how physics, evolutionary biology, and sociology shape our understanding of what makes a human uniquely human. I have conducted background research in the form of literature reviews to gain a general understanding of each field’s views, and followed them up with interviews with an expert in each field in order to get a more in-depth understanding. With this knowledge, I am then taking a more subjective approach, looking at how personal identities such as gender, religion, and race and immigration shape how people understand their place in the world. This section was conducted with a series of interviews for each category, exploring how differences in each of these categories affect individual views. Once all of this was completed, I synthesized the interviews into subject specific episodes that fit together to tell a multitude of stories that explore what it means to be human, and published it as a publically accessible podcast. The goal of this project is not to answer this question, but instead to invite people to engage in the conversation and think about their own views in a new way.
East Carolina University