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Jeremy O. Harris Withdraws SLAVE PLAY from CTG Season of Disproportionately Male Playwrights; CTG Responds

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Slave Play was do to make its west coast premiere in February 2022.

Playwright Jeremy O. Harris' Tony-nominated Slave Play was set to arrive on the west coast next year as a part of Center Theatre Group's new season; however, the show may not run as planned. Harris writes in a tweet today that he is withdrawing the play from the season to make room for works from young, female playwrights.

"As a playwright who holds dear the principles of inclusion, it was a shock to realize that this season was programmed with only one woman across all theatres," writes Harris. "As an Angeleno and lover of theatre I think Los Angeles audiences deserve an equitable showing of playwrights working in the US right now."

Center Theatre Group leadership has responded to Harris' withdrawal with the following statement:

"In assembling Center Theatre Group's upcoming Taper and Douglas seasons, we first honored commitments to many shows that were disrupted by the pandemic over the course of the last two years. Some of those commitments include plays by women that have been scheduled for next season due to artist availability but are not yet announced. We understand the frustration, disappointment and even anger in the scarcity of women playwrights in the upcoming season. Although we have announced a lineup featuring voices from many standpoints and identities, we acknowledge that we've fallen short of our own expectations and those of our community in regards to gender equity, and for that, we apologize. We can and will do better.

We want to reassure our community that we remain intensely focused on our mission of reflecting and serving the many communities of Los Angeles. We have already begun work on 2022-2023 seasons that include a commitment to gender equity amongst playwrights for CTG produced shows. The opening production already slated for the 2022-2023 season at the Mark Taper Forum is written by a woman of color.

We made this commitment to equity to other aspects of our current season as well. All four of the directors in the just-announced Douglas season are women or non-binary. In addition, this year's Writers Workshop cohort is made up solely of women-identifying playwrights, all local to Los Angeles. Of the 16 new plays Center Theatre Group recently commissioned, 11 are from BIPOC writers and 11 are being written by women.

We are thankful for our community members who remain supportive of CTG - even through our missteps - as we strive to amplify women's voices and become more equitable, accessible and reflective of all of Los Angeles' diverse communities. We hope our audiences will continue to join us in that journey.

Today we received a notification from playwright Jeremy O. Harris that he would like to start the process of removing "Slave Play" from this season in the hopes to make room for more women. We respect Jeremy's opinion and believe in him as an artist. We hope to continue our relationship with him going forward. We are regrouping and will be able to share more in the coming days about the impact on our upcoming season.

- Michael Ritchie (Artistic Director) and Meghan Pressman (Managing Director / CEO"

Other than Harris' Slave play, which was due to arrive at Mark Taper Forum in February, the season currently includes The Lehman Trilogy by Stefano Massini, Blues for an Alabama Sky by Pearl Cleage, King James by Rajiv Joseph, Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool, I'll Be Seein' Ya by Jon Robin Baitz, Alma by Benjamin Benne, Tambo & Bones by Dave Harris, To T or Not to T? A Comedic Trans Journey through (T)estosterone and Masculinity by D'Lo, and The Art Couple by Brendan Hunt.

Center Theatre Group, one of the nation's preeminent arts and cultural organizations, is Los Angeles' leading nonprofit theatre company, which, under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Ritchie, Managing Director / CEO Meghan Pressman and Producing Director Douglas C. Baker, programs seasons at the 736-seat Mark Taper Forum and 1,600 to 2,100-seat Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles, and the 317-seat Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City.

In addition to presenting and producing the broadest range of theatrical entertainment in the country, Center Theatre Group is one of the nation's leading producers of ambitious new works through commissions and world premiere productions and a leader in interactive community engagement and education programs that reach across generations, demographics and circumstance to serve Los Angeles.


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