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Producers announced Tuesday that the new play — written by Obie-winning playwright and Walking Dead actress Danai Gurira and following a group of women in Liberia who are caught by rebels fighting the government in 2003 — will join this season’s uniquely diverse lineup, beginning previews at the Golden Theatre on Feb. 23 before its March 6 opening.
Lupita Nyong’o is confirmed to reprise her role in the Broadway run, and co-stars Pascale Armand, Saycon Sengbloh, Zainab Jah and Akosua Busia are expected to follow.
Directed by Liesl Tommy, the survival story of captive wives during wartime is immediately notable as a work written by a Zimbabwean-American woman, featuring a cast of five women with African roots and directed by a South African-born woman. It was first seen in three back-to-back regional productions in fall 2009. But its path to New York was delayed, coming in the wake of Lynn Nottage‘s Pulitzer-winning Ruined, another work inspired by interviews with brutalized African women, in that case refugees of the Congolese conflict.
Following her Oscar win for 12 Years a Slave, Nyong’o was invited by the Public Theater to consider stage projects; she chose to return to Eclipsed, having understudied in the Yale Rep production while she was at Yale School of Drama. The play will mark her Broadway debut.
The Public staging opened to strong reviews, with The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney praising each member of the ensemble and noting, “Eclipsed pulls us into and holds us captive in a vivid world whose stark horrors are rendered with unflinching honesty and delicate poignancy — all the more so because they are treated as an everyday reality, often viewed with surprising humor.”
Extended twice, Eclipsed runs at the The Public through Nov. 29. It will be produced on Broadway by Stephen Byrd, Alia Jones-Harvey, Paula Marie Black, Willette Klausner, Carole Shorenstein Hays and The Public Theater. The play follows two other recent hit Broadway transfers from the Public: Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s musical Hamilton and last season’s Tony-sweeping show Fun Home.
The transfer announcement follows recent criticism that Broadway is almost exclusively the domain of male playwrights. The Tony wins last season for Fun Home marked the first time in history that top honors for a musical had gone to an all-female team (composer Jeanine Tesori and writer Lisa Kron, adapting the graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel). Eclipsed joins just one other play in the current Broadway season written by a woman — Therese Raquin, which was adapted by Helen Edmundson from the novel by Emile Zola.
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