Thursday, May 23, 2024

THEATER: “Slave Play” Writer Jeremy O. Harris Wants Show Removed from LA Theater Over Gender Parity


Jeremy O. Harris, the most recent “it” playwright, has stirred up some trouble in Los Angeles.

Harris has asked that a production of his one hit, “Slave Play.” be removed from CTG Theater Group’s schedule in Los Angeles over gender parity. He means that few female playwrights get their works produced there.

“Slave Play” was supposed to re-open the Mark Taper Forum on February 9th.  But Harris looked the schedule and didn’t like what he saw– this is despite “Blues for an Alabama Sky” written by Pearl Cleage and directed by Phylicia Rashad coming from April 6th through May 8th.

“Slave Play” is returning to Broadway for an eight week run this fall even though it failed to score a single Tony Award. It was a financial hit when it played prior to the pandemic largely because it’s gratuitous porn streamlined for a theater crowd.

I think Los Angeles has dodged a bullet, frankly; The Mark Taper Forum can do a lot better with a return show. How Harris’s financial backers will feel about not having a West Coast production remains unknown. But welcome to cancel culture, and random petulance. Theater owners have enough problems finding shows that will bring audiences, I doubt the CTG people are looking only for plays by people of a certain gender or color. They will book the most popular shows. Harris should know that. If Lynn Nottage or Suzan Lori Parks had had a hit in the previous New York season, it would undoubtedly have headed west.

And so it goes.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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