‘Slave Play’ Was Shut Out at the Tonys. But It’s Coming Back to Broadway.
“Slave Play,” the buzzy and provocative drama that was nominated for 12 Tony Awards but won none, will return to Broadway this fall.
The playwright, Jeremy O. Harris, announced the plan just after midnight Monday morning, about an hour after the award ceremony shutout, at an after-party held to celebrate “Slave Play” and the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, an antiracism group.
Harris had been planning the return engagement, win or lose. And he said on Twitter that he never expected to win.
“Slave Play has never won one of the major awards of any of the great voting bodies but changed a culture and has inspired thousands of ppl who didn’t care about theatre before,” he wrote on Twitter. “I saw someone randomly reading the play in Slovenia. We already won.”
The play’s 12 nominations made it the most nominated play in history, and had it won as best play, it would have become the first play by a Black writer to claim the Tony since 1987. It lost to “The Inheritance,” a sweeping drama by Matthew Lopez that explores 21st century gay life in the aftermath of AIDS; Lopez said he was the first Latino to win the prize.
“Slave Play” imagines a radical form of role-playing for sexually frustrated interracial couples as a way of exploring the lingering effects of slavery in America.
“Slave Play” becomes the eighth play by a Black writer slated to run on Broadway this season, so far, a record number. It’s also one of several return engagements by shows whose runs had ended before the pandemic, including “American Utopia,” “Freestyle Love Supreme,” “Springsteen on Broadway” and “Waitress.”
“Slave Play,” which had an Off Broadway run at New York Theater Workshop, ran on Broadway from Sept. 10, 2019 through Jan. 19, 2020. It did not recoup its capitalization costs, but that is not unusual for plays.
The producers said the return engagement would be at the August Wilson Theater, and would run from Nov. 23 to Jan. 23. They then plan to transfer the production to Los Angeles for a run at the Center Theater Group.
The Broadway run will again be directed by Robert O’Hara, and will feature much of the original cast, including Ato Blankson-Wood, Chalia La Tour, Irene Sofia Lucio, Annie McNamara and Paul Alexander Nolan. However, Joaquina Kalukango will not rejoin the cast in the role of Kaneisha; she is starring in a new musical, “Paradise Square,” scheduled to start previews in February, and will be replaced by Antoinette Crowe-Legacy, who previously played the role in a developmental production at Yale.
The lead producers are Greg Nobile and Jana Shea; among the other producers is the actor Jake Gyllenhaal. The producers pledged to make 10,000 tickets available for $39 each and to hold invitation-only “Black Out” performances, as they did during the initial run, for Black audiences.