'Slave Play' Coming to L.A. With Center Theatre Group’s 2020–2021 Season

Live events have yet to return to the calendar, but when the theater group resumes business, it is bringing Jeremy O. Harris' Broadway hit to the schedule.
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The cast of Jeremy O. Harris' 'Slave Play' surround the playwright (fourth from right) during the opening night reception on Dec. 9, 2018, in New York City.

Jeremy O. Harris is bringing his Broadway smash Slave Play to Los Angeles as part of Center Theatre Group’s 2020–2021 season at the Mark Taper Forum, marking the first production of the provocative work outside of New York. 

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily shut down large gatherings like concerts, theater productions and sporting events. As part of CTG's announcement Monday, the organization said Slave Play's premiere date will be announced later, as will on-sale dates. Also to be revealed: casting. Robert O’Hara, two-time NAACP and Obie Award winner and the recipient of Center Theatre Group’s inaugural Sherwood Award, will direct the local production. 

“As we look forward to the moment that we can safely return to the stage it helps to be reminded of the type of transcendent experiences that continue to draw us back to the theater,” said Center Theatre Group artistic director Michael Ritchie. “Jeremy O. Harris’ revelatory and provocative new work changes the way we see the world around us. I knew Los Angeles needed the opportunity to see Slave Play, and the promise of this remarkable work in the hands of the original creative team sets a high standard as we continue to plan the rest of our 2020–2021 seasons at the Taper and Kirk Douglas Theatre.”

Described by The Hollywood Reporter critic David Rooney as a "ballsy, often ferociously funny original work that deserves to be seen," Slave Play is set at the MacGregor Plantation, where three interracial couples "converge to rip open history at the intersection of race, love, sex and sexuality in 21st-century America," per CTG. The Broadway cast included Ato Blankson-Wood, James Cusati-Moyer, Sullivan Jones, Joaquina Kalukango, Chalia La Tour, Irene Sofia Lucio, Annie McNamara and Paul Alexander Nolan.

The play also became a cultural phenomenon, receiving a slew of honors including the Rosa Parks Playwriting Award, the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, the Lotos Foundation Prize in the Arts and Sciences and the 2018 Paula Vogel Award. Slave Play also was nominated for the Outer Critics Circle’s John Gassner Playwriting Award and the Lucille Lortel Award for outstanding play.

Harris, a writer and performer based in New York City, has also written Daddy, Xander Xyst, Dragon: 1 and WATER SPORTS; or insignificant white boys. He is a graduate of Yale's MFA playwriting program.

O’Hara directed the world premieres of Slave Play, Nikkole Salter and Danai Gurira’s In the Continuum, Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Brother/Sister Plays (Part 2), Colman Domingo’s Wild With Happy, Kirsten Childs’ Bella: An American Tall Tale and his own works, Mankind, Bootycandy and Insurrection: Holding History.