Photo Flash: SLAVE PLAY Creator Jeremy O. Harris Hosts 'Black Out'
Yesterday evening in New York City, Broadway's Slave Play and its creator, playwright Jeremy O. Harris hosted BLACK OUT during the show's previews. BLACK OUT dedicated the 804 seats of 45th Street's Golden Theatre to an audience of black identified artists, writers, activists, creatives, and students in celebration of the critically-acclaimed, Robert O'Hara directed play and in recognition of Broadway's rich, diverse, and fraught history with black work. The event was followed by a Talk Forward moderated by VULTURE Staff Writer Hunter Harris and Author Casey Gerald, during which playwright Jeremy O. Harris discussed the work, buzz, and questions around this play - as well as Broadway's history of work created by black artists.
The production aimed to create an environment through which a black audience can experience and discuss the play. Since beginning previews on September 10th, guests such as Rihanna, Tessa Thompson, Roxane Gay, and Zendaya have all burst through the doors of the Golden Theatre to experience what has been noted as "the single most daring thing I've seen in theater in a long time" (as per, Wesley Morris, The New York Times). During BLACK OUT in specific, notables such as Jesse Williams, Kelela, Joy Bryant, Keke Palmer, Kelsey Lu, Tonya Pinkins, Paloma Elsesser and Norm Lewis all showed in attendance to support the monumental Broadway debut. Organizations such as the Alvin Ailey School of Dance, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, NYU's Organization of Black Women, Pace University's Black Student Union and more, were also extended a handful of tickets for their black identifying students and staff.
The impetus for the evening was inspired by playwright, Jeremy O. Harris himself, who wrote:
"This May, in conversation with the musician Kelela, I was challenged to curate one performance of Slave Play for a fully black audience. At the time, not knowing when or where I would next see a performance of the play I quickly accepted. When I was told the play would move to Broadway this season this challenge felt even more imperative. In my short time working in literary theatre it has felt exceedingly rare to be in any theatrical space like the ones I grew up around in Virginia that felt free of the white gaze. This night gets to be a chance to build that space myself, in the hopes that once the space is built more like it will appear like many of the affinity theatres that lived in and around 42nd street in the wake of the black arts movement like the Negro Ensemble Company."
In conjunction with BLACK OUT, Jeremy O. Harris teases a soft launch of his latest brainchild - a website titled Black Work Broadway. Birthed from Jeremy's curiosity and frustration, Black Work Broadway is a site-in-progress that will act as an exhaustive record of the performed scripts written and conceived by black artists that have been presented at the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world. The repository will represent works ranging from the inception of the 'Broadway Theater,' dating back as far as the late 19th century to the present. The list and website will be developed through Slave Play's opening night, October 6th. You can follow the network on Instagram via @BlackWorkBroadway.
Photo Credit: Emilio Madrid
Jeremy O. Harris, Hunter Harris and Casey Gerald
Jeremy O. Harris and Kelela
Ato Blankson-Wood and Deray McKessen
Jeremy O. Harris, Kelsey Lu and Tyler Mitchell
Jeremy O. Harris, Jesse Williams and Taylour Paige
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