Broadway is full of black playwrights. But for how long ?
In addition to “Chicken & Biscuits,” this season’s plays from Dark Writers include a long-criticized classic (“Problem in mind“), An autobiographical reminiscence (“Blues Lackawanna“), two naturalistic dramas (“Clyde” and “Skeleton crew“) and two other formally adventurous works (“Go over” and “Thoughts of a colored man“).
“These are seven different pieces that examine fundamentally different aspects of the black experience,” said Lynn Nottage, of which “Clyde’s,” about a sandwich shop owner running a team of ex-incarcerated, begins the fore- premieres November 3 at the Hayes Theater. .
Nottage is this season’s most famous playwright: she is a two-time Pulitzer winner, for “Ruined”, which unfortunately never made it to Broadway despite an extended Off Broadway tour several times in 2009, and “Sweat”, who performed on Broadway in 2017.
For most shows, Broadway audiences are – or at least were, before the pandemic – predominantly white. And movie theater owners have long invoked it to justify their programming choices.
“I always wonder why Broadway is important and why we are so deeply invested in showcasing our work in those business areas that have traditionally rejected our stories,” Nottage said. “But it’s a very big platform. On Broadway, you talk to the world.
As in Lyon, most of the writers have never been produced on Broadway.
Keenan Scott II is the author of “Thoughts of a Colored Man,” which chronicles a day in the life of seven black men in Brooklyn, which premieres October 1 at the Golden Theater. Scott was a slam poet before turning to the theater; for years he produced his own work, with money borrowed from his family and friends, in places such as the Frozen party and Frostburg State University, his alma mater.
“When I got to college and started reading plays, I couldn’t see myself,” he said. “I didn’t see my essence as a young black man captured on stage.”