Lynn Nottage Speaks Out on Making Broadway Debut in Male-Dominated Season

Broadway News   Lynn Nottage Speaks Out on Making Broadway Debut in Male-Dominated Season
The Pulitzer Prize winner is the only female playwright of color represented on Broadway during the 2016-17 season.
Lynn Nottage
Lynn Nottage Joseph Marzullo/WENN

On December 5 it was announced that Lynn Nottage’s critically praised new drama Sweat will transfer to Broadway in March following its current Off-Broadway run at the Public Theater.

Nottage, a Pulitzer winner for Ruined, joins fellow Pulitzer-winning playwright Paula Vogel as the only two living female playwrights to have their plays produced on Broadway during the 2016-17 season. In addition to Vogel’s Indecent, the season includes a revival of the late Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes.

Both Nottage and Vogel will be making their Broadway playwriting debuts.

As Playbill reported, out of the 21 plays planned for the Broadway season thus far, only three are written by women. In addition, Nottage is the 2016-17 Broadway season’s only living playwright of color. (Late African-American playwright August Wilson’s Jitney makes its Broadway debut January 19 after premiering Off-Broadway in 2000.)

Playbill reached out to Nottage for comment. Her reflection on the achievement and the landscape of the American theatre follows:

As a woman of color, slowly and with some coercing the not for profit theaters around the country are beginning to recognize and embrace the power our stories, but with regards to Broadway and other commercial venues, we remain very much marginalized and excluded from that larger creative conversation. It is mystifying that in this age, that with the exception of a few intrepid producers like Stuart Thompson, Liz McCann, Daryl Roth, Louise Gund, Steven Byrd and Alia Jones, most commercial theatre continues to revel in their own myopia and cling to their snail like pace toward inclusion.

It is such a joy to join a legacy of amazing female playwrights who have managed to break through the glass ceiling, and reinvigorate the Broadway stage by bringing a fresh and necessary perspective. Over the last few years, women of African disapora, queer women and working class women have found a place on the Broadway stage, and demonstrated that there is an audience for rich complicated stories about women.

In senior year at college, Paula Vogel was my playwriting teacher, she is the first person to introduce me to the notion that a woman could actually forge a career in the theatre. Up until then, the possibility seemed remote and inaccessible, as I had very few role models who directly touched my life. As such, it means the world to me that I get to share this Broadway season with the incredible Paula Vogel, who was instrumental in shaping me as writer and leading me on this journey.

Sweat opens March 26 at Studio 54.


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