amBroadway | ‘Slave Play’ playwright calls out theater for lack of female writers, The Lark closes and more

Slave Play
“Slave Play”
Photo: Joan Marcus

‘Slave Play’ playwright calls out theater for lack of female writers

Last week, Jeremy O. Harris’ provocative race and sexual relations drama “Slave Play” was completely shut out of the Tony Awards despite having received a record-breaking 12 nominations. Hours later, it was announced that “Slave Play” will receive an encore run on Broadway beginning in November. 

On Tuesday, Harris made news again when he publicly announced on Twitter that he wants to cancel the upcoming regional premiere of “Slave Play” in Los Angeles because Center Theatre Group’s new season contains insufficient gender diversity. “As a playwright who holds dear the principles of both inclusion it was a shock to realize that this season was programmed with only 1 woman across all theatres. As an Angeleno and a lover of theatre I think Los Angeles audiences deserve an equitable showing of the playwrights working in the US right now,” Harris wrote. 

In response, the theater company issued a statement acknowledging “the frustration, disappointment, and even anger in the scarcity of women playwrights in the upcoming season…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.”

This incident may have significant implications for non-profit theater companies in New York, whose current and future season lineups could be carefully scrutinized over whether they display a commitment to diversity and equity. 

The Lark shuts down

The Lark, a 27-year-old support organization and developmental space for playwrights located in Midtown, is shutting down. “After many months of responding to pandemic-related crises and seeking paths to sustainability, the board of directors, in a unanimous vote, have come to the painful conclusion that there is no sustainable and viable path forward,” the company wrote in a statement. On Twitter, Heidi Schreck called the news “devastating.”

Jane Lynch joins ‘Funny Girl’ cast

“Glee” star Jane Lynch will play Mrs. Brice in the upcoming Broadway revival of “Funny Girl” opposite Beanie Feldstein’s Fanny Brice. (It had long been rumored that Rosie O’Donnell would play Mrs. Brice.) Also new to the cast are Ramin Karimloo (“Les Miz”) as Nick Arnstein and Jared Grimes (“A Soldier’s Play”) as Eddie Ryan. The production will begin previews at the August Wilson Theatre (currently home to “Pass Over” and then “Slave Play”) in March.

Revised ‘Pal Joey’ in the works

A heavily revised version of the acerbic 1940 Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart musical “Pal Joey” is looking to play Broadway next season. It will have a new book by screenwriter Richard LaGravenese (“The Fisher King”), choreography by tap dancer Savion Glover (“Shuffle Along”), and direction by Glover and actor Tony Goldwyn (“Network”). The new “Pal Joey” will be set in the 1940s at a South Side Chicago nightclub and include songs originally written for other Rodgers & Hart musicals including “The Lady Is a Tramp” and “Falling in Love With Love.”