A play revolving around the wobbly theme of change will be performed at UI

Isaac Connor comes home from the Marines to find that his family’s life has been turned upside down. How can he conform to such change?


Sid Peterson

University of Iowa students Inigo O’Brien and Isaac Connor perform on stage in Theatre B at the Theater Building on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018. The play HIR will be performed on multiple occasions beginning Thursday, Oct. 11 to Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018.

Madison Lotenschtein, Arts Reporter

Imagine a set of any musical or play, mimicking its time. The stage is tidy, neat, and appears ready for actors to use its every purpose. With clothes strewn across the set, flipped-over tables, and absolute clutter, one can hardly find the black-clad comfort of the stage floor in HIR.

HIR, a play written by Taylor Mac, tells the story of a dishonorably discharged Marine, Isaac Connor, who comes home to a life his family had never lived, a life that encourages untidiness now that the abusive household ruler — Isaac’s father — has been disabled by a stroke.

Originally performed at the Magic Theater of San Francisco in 2014, HIR will open at the UI Theater Building at 8 p.m. today. The title of the piece is derived from the script itself: One of the characters adopts it from ze/hir.

HIR is definitely a comedy but a blistering one,” Luke Daniel White, the dramaturge for the play, said in an email to The Daily Iowan. “I laugh every time I watch rehearsal and usually come away feeling punched in the gut by the end.”

The dynamics among the characters in the play reflect many current issues.

“The family embodies the sort of deep cultural divisions we see all across our country, especially in light of this latest Supreme Court nomination, an upholding of the patriarchy versus a fight for feminism, an entrenchment in religious conservatism versus intersectional liberalism, war and capitalism versus peace and freedom,” White said.

Isaac is also challenged with another dramatic change. His younger sister, Maxine, now identifies as trans-masculine nonbinary person and goes by the name of Max. Director Sarah Lacy Hamilton believes that having a play that touches on trans identity could help widen the eyes of the university and the community.

“Our Theater Department is lucky to have many wonderfully talented trans actors and artists, but rarely do we see plays in our community that represent them,” Hamilton said in an email to The Daily Iowan. “I hope that this piece will be a step forward in our community efforts to increase representation and diversity.”

While making room for identities that are not just feminine or masculine, HIR also focuses on the imperfections of others and shows how to be compassionate in situations that are beyond a person’s control.

“Isaac and his mother battle to regain control of the house,” said Chris Walbert (Isaac). “He is trying to bring his world back to order.”

The plot follows Isaac through a rough patch of his life and sheds light on what masculinity means to men in present day.

“Isaac is struggling to learn just how much control he actually has. It’s a relatable conflict for some young men in this age,” Walbert said. “It’s a cultural struggle. What can we honor about this old-school masculinity, and what do we have to lose in order to move forward as a society?” 

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