A Young African American Playwright Takes No Prisoners
Playwright Jeremy O Harris first came to my attention last month when his controversial play Slave Play opened at New York Theatre Workshop. He has been profiled in no less than four articles in the New York Times.
He is a student at Yale and has a scheduled production of his play Daddy starring Alan Cumming on the horizon. Cumming asked, right after a closet read - thru of the play, “When are we going to do this?”
You don’t have to dig deep on the internet to find Harris staring in a GQ short film ad for Gucci, sharing his sexy vacation frivolity on Instagram, and getting grand scale trolled on Twitter by African Americans who are not pleased by his representation of their heritage in Slave Play. Harris is a young provocateur the likes of which the world has not seen since Jean Genet.
“The subject of this disruptive production, staged with sophisticated irreverence by Robert O’Hara, is revealed only by degree. But it ultimately uncovers the pain and dislocation of three black characters who have relinquished emotional control to their white lovers. Harris’s provocative construct has each of the couples participating in an outlandish, even grotesque, type of therapy requiring them to wear pre-Civil War costumes and perform sexualized, slave-master improvisations. The scathing ritual is both a satire of the limits of therapy and academic investigation and, ultimately, a dissection of an ancient ache buried far more deeply than modern psychology can reach.”
--- Peter Marks, Washington Post
I’ve successfully sent a few squeaky wheel emails to New York Theatre Workshop wanting to order a copy of the, now published, Slave Play. It should arrive any day. I don’t want to read it alone because it sounds too powerful and outrageous an experience not to share. I’ll be contacting friends for an intimate read and listen to, what by all accounts, may be one of the most important American plays of the century.
Marks, Peter (2018, December 28) Washington Post
Kumar, Naveen (2018, November 28) The New York Times