The 30-year-old playwright Jeremy O. Harris will make history as the youngest Black man to have a play produced on Broadway, and is only the sixth Black writer to have a new play on Broadway in the last decade, according to Broadway Black.
The very recent Yale graduate wrote Slave Play during his first semester there, a controversial and polarizing take on the nation’s racial divide through the microcosm of interracial relationships. Wacky, daring, and intentionally transgressive, the play is set in a group therapy workshop for “antebellum sexual performance therapy” wherein couples (a gay couple included) engage in slavery-era role play to help work through interpersonal issues.
Slave Play aside, O. Harris has had quite a year with the success of his off-Broadway play like Daddy starring Alan Cumming, Tommy Dorfman, and Hari Nef, as well as shows running alongside the conclusion of his graduate education like Water Sports and Yell. Following the success of Slave Play, Harris has become a face of Gucci, attended the Met Gala (in a sickening look nonetheless), and had profiles and headlines in major news sources about his body of work, as well as the task of interviewing Rihanna for the New York Times.
“The new-style dandy, the lover of Camp, appreciates vulgarity. Where the dandy would be continually offended or bored, the connoisseur of Camp is continually amused, delighted. The dandy held a perfumed handkerchief to his nostrils and was liable to swoon; the connoisseur of Camp sniffs the stink and prides himself on his strong nerves.” Sontag in a piece I’ve renamed “Notes on Iceberg Slim” Had a ball appreciating vulgarity last night at the #metgala. Thank you @alessandro_michele for hosting me at your beautiful table. As well as Co-hosts @harrystyles , @ladygaga , @serenawilliams, and #AnnaWintour. I’ll never forget it. Thanks for making me feel like a prince as usual @lilas212 , @gregnise, @jwfresh, @gucci and @guccibeauty. And being a genius @melzy917. S/o @morganleighmakeup, @nailsbymei and @hairbysusy for getting me right for the carpet.
The Broadway rendition of Slave Play will be directed by Robert O’Hara and produced by Greg Nobile and Jana Shea of Seaview Productions, Troy Carter, and Nine Stories, founded by Jake Gyllenhaal and Riva Marker.
As a strong advocate for accessibility in theater, especially for the most marginalized, Harris also advocated for more affordable ticketing.
“Last year I tweeted out a thread on how to scam your way into theatre because to me it felt insane that I was doing a play at a theatre that up until that year I would have had to scam to get into,” Harris tells Out. “Doing that inspired a lot of amazing people in the community to both take notice and help get younger audiences into the theatre. Going to Broadway then became an even more pressing agenda for me and my lead producer Greg Nobile. So we decided to build on the ideas in that tweet because there was no way we wanted to take this play to Broadway if we weren’t going to actually change the way people think about a Broadway show."
As a result, 10,000 seats from the Golden Theater performance will be only $39.
When I found out @SlavePlayBway was happening one of the first things I said was, “How will my friends afford this?” My producing team and I made accessibility a priority for ppl like me who never saw broadway shows Bc of $$, now 10,000 seats will be $39https://t.co/LFygnsuUJ7
— Jeremy O. Harris (@jeremyoharris) July 11, 2019
"For too long theatre has been inaccessible and unwelcoming to many of the people who find themselves inspired by it, Black people, queer people, people without trust funds," Harris said. "We wanted to make the Golden Theatre a home for those people, even if only for 17 weeks.”