UPDATED with CTG response: Playwright Jeremy O. Harris said Tuesday that he intends to pull his Tony-nominated Slave Play from the upcoming lineup at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles due to the theater company’s dearth of scheduled productions by female playwrights – a scarcity acknowledged by the management of Center Theatre Group, which operates the Taper.
In a tweet that reproduced an email sent to executives of L.A.’s Center Theatre Group, Harris wrote, “As a playwright who holds dear the principles of both inclusion it was a shock to realize that this season was programmed with only 1 woman across all theatres. As an Angeleno and a lover of theatre I think Los Angeles audiences deserve an equitable showing of the playwrights working in the US right now.
“I’ve spoken to my team,” he continues, “and would like to begin the process of removing slave play from the season at this time. Hopefully in its place some young playwrights I love might be able to join the fold like: Celine Song, Tori Sampson, Aleshea Harris, Claire Kiechel, Antoinette Nwandu, Ming Peiffer, Whitney White, Clare Barron, Majkin Holmquist, Genne Murphy, Aziza Barnes and so many more.”
In a response, CTG, the Los Angeles nonprofit organization that operates the Mark Taper Forum, the Ahmanson Theatre and the Kirk Douglas Theatre, tweeted, “We understand your frustration, disappointment, and even anger in the scarcity of women’s voices in the upcoming seasons. Although we have assembled a lineup featuring voices from many standpoints and identities, we acknowledge that we’ve fallen short of your expectations (and our own) in regards to gender equity, and for that, we apologize. We can and will do better. We will follow up with a more expansive statement from Michael Ritchie.”
Ritchie is CTG’s artistic director, who last summer announced he’d be retiring from the position at the end of 2021. He has held the position since January 2005.
The controversial Slave Play recently was snubbed at the Tony Awards, taking no wins out of its record-setting 12 nominations. Despite the shutout, Harris announced the day after the September 26 Tony ceremony that Slave Play would return to Broadway for a limited engagement from November 23, 2021, to January 23, 2022.
The play’s West Coast premiere was slated to begin at the CTG’s Taper on February 9, 2022, and run through March 13. The engagement had been postponed from the 2020-21 season due to the Covid shutdown.
— Variety Screenwriter To Watch Jeremy O. Harris (@jeremyoharris) October 5, 2021
(and our own) in regards to gender equity, and for that, we apologize. We can and will do better. We will follow up with a more expansive statement from Michael Ritchie. (2/2)
— Center Theatre Group (@CTGLA) October 5, 2021
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