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The off-Broadway cast of Slave Play. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Jeremy O. Harris’ Slave Play Sets Broadway Opening

Producers Greg Nobile and Jana Shea of Seaview Productions, Troy Carter, Level Forward, and Nine Stories, founded by Jake Gyllenhaal and Riva Marker have announced a new play for Broadway this autumn. Jeremy O. Harris’ Slave Play will begin previews at the Golden Theatre on September 10, 2019, with an official opening set for Sunday, October 6. Robert O’Hara is set to direct.

Slave Play is already the recipient of the Rosa Parks Playwriting Award, the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, The Lotos Foundation Prize in the Arts and Sciences, and the 2018 Paula Vogel Award. The play was nominated for the Outer Critics Circle’s John Gassner Playwrighting Award and the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play.

In speaking of his play and its inherent themes, Harris said, “During my very short time being a professional writer, the world I thought I’d inhabit was one at odds with a commercial theatrical landscape; so to see that this play, Slave Play, that interrogates the traumas Americans have inherited from the legacy of chattel slavery and colonization has a place in the canon of work that has made its way to Broadway is both exhilarating and humbling. It also articulates that the leaps the community made in the past Broadway season might not have been a fad but the beginning of a new moment for the theater to once again attempt to represent discursive American theatrical expression not situated solely within the imaginaries of cis white men, but the imaginaries of all Americans.”

Slave Play is described as follows: “The Old South lives on at the MacGregor Plantation — in the breeze, in the cotton fields…and in the crack of the whip. It’s an antebellum fever-dream, where fear and desire entwine in the looming shadow of the Master’s House. Jim trembles as Kaneisha handles melons in the cottage, Alana perspires in time with the plucking of Phillip’s fiddle in the boudoir, while Dustin cowers at the heel of Gary’s big, black boot in the barn. Nothing is as it seems, and yet everything is as it seems.”

O’Hara said, “I’m thrilled as a black queer artist to be collaborating with another black queer artist on what will be both of our Broadway debuts. I think the idea that I can say that openly and proudly is rather profound given the history of our country and of the American theater, but more specifically Broadway which has had and continues to have a general lack of diversity and diverse stories. I feel that Jeremy is joined today by a whole host of exciting young artists who are telling stories outside the main stem which can now hopefully be presented on the main stem. As the margin slowly becomes the center, I believe a cavalcade of voices one would never expect to be heard on Broadway can be and should be demanded. Slave Play is a complex, challenging and exhilarating piece of work and I look forward to presenting it this fall on Broadway.

The design team for Slave Play will include Tony Award winner Clint Ramos (scenic design), four-time Drama Desk Award nominee Dede Ayite (costume design), Drama Desk Award nominee Jiyoun Chang (lighting design), three-time Drama Desk Award nominee Lindsay Jones(sound design and original music),

Tickets will go on sale to the general public beginning Saturday, July 13, 2019, at 10 AM. To help ensure that the production is accessible to all ticket buyers, the producers have confirmed that 10,000 tickets will be made available at $39 each throughout the 17-week run.

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia, and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.