Jeremy O. Harris is requesting that his Tony-nominated Slave Play be removed from Center Theatre Group’s upcoming season. The show is slated to have its West Coast premiere early next year at CTG’s Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Theatre leadership says it hopes to work with the playwright on a path forward and will announce more details on what impact the pull has on the season at a later time.
Harris tweeted his letter to CTG, which noted that only one woman was represented as a playwright across all three of the organization's venues in the 2021–2022 season. Pearl Cleage's Blues for an Alabama Sky, directed by Phylicia Rashad, was set to follow Slave Play.
“As an Angeleno and a lover of theatre I think Los Angeles audiences deserve an equitable showing of the playwrights working in the U.S. right now,” wrote Harris in his request. In its place, the playwright suggested CTG present a work by Celine Song, Tori Sampson, Aleshea Harris, Claire Keichel, Antoinette Nwandu, Ming Pfeiffer, Whitney White, Clare Barron, Majkin Holmquist, Genne Murphy, or Aziza Barnes instead.
“We respect Jeremy’s opinion and believe in him as an artist,” said Artistic Director Michael Ritchie and Managing Director/CEO Meghan Pressman in their response. “We are regrouping and will be able to share more in the coming days about the impact on our upcoming season.”
In addition, leadership said it was committed to gender equity among playwrights for the 2022–2023 season, while pointing out that all four directors in the current season at the Kirk Douglas Theatre are women or non-binary, and that 11 out of 16 of its recent commissions are by women.
“Although we have announced a lineup featuring voices from many standpoints and identities, we acknowledge that we’ve fallen short of our own expectations and those of our community in regards to gender equity, and for that, we apologize. We can and will do better,” the statement adds.
While West Coast audiences will have to wait to see when its L.A. debut will ultimately happen, Slave Play will return to Broadway in November.