Playwright, actor, and philanthropist Jeremy O. Harris opened his Tony-nominated ‘Slave Play’ at Los Angeles’s Mark Taper Forum two years after the theatre had to shut its doors due to the pandemic.
As per Variety, the artiste, who earlier threatened to cancel the play’s run at the Center Theatre Group (CTG) following their lack of representation of female playwrights, feels honoured to have his play at the theatre.
He said: “It’s an honour that this is the first show that they’re coming back with. It’s not like this is ‘Hamilton,’ you know what I mean?”
Admitting that the play won’t be an immediate sell out but will grow with time on the audience, he said: “It’s not a play that’s going to immediately sell out. It’s not supposed to do that necessarily, right? It’s a work that doesn’t necessarily welcome people in. Even in the title it is like a challenge. So it’s cool that they took this challenge on even after I challenged them another way.”
The CTG had responded to the demands of representation as a course correcting measure and promised to offer more opportunities for artists from underrepresented communities. Jeremy is hopeful that the CTG’s quick action is not a temporary fix for them or for other theaters that have talked about welcoming more diverse storytelling and projects.
He wishes that it becomes a mass movement so that it triggers a change in the sphere of arts with regards to representation. “I hope it becomes a mass movement where we start seeing seasons that look different. Not just next year, but for the next decade, next two decades,” he said.
“If we think about the work that’s been most exhilarating from the 20th century, very little of it is the work that’s made by the same type of person. I hope that we can foster more voices,” he added.
Calling inclusivity a primal driving force and not a novelty, he said: “I hope that everyone who’s producing on Broadway is actively looking at ways to bolster and foster that type of season so that it’s not a novelty, but like a necessity. It’s a necessity to have an inclusive season on Broadway and not just something novel to do when theatres are empty anyway.”
Stressing upon how important is diversity to art, he said: “We haven’t done all the work. We can do more work. It shouldn’t just be Black voices. It shouldn’t just be straight boys. It should be a bunch of queer people, a bunch of women, a bunch of people of colour. There’s a lot of labour that has to be done. And the labour is difficult. It’s not easy.