Slave Play writer says black-only nights ‘allow black people to feel safe at theatre’


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By John Dunne, Yahoo News

Playwright Jeremy O’ Harris (Dave Benett)
Playwright Jeremy O’ Harris (Dave Benett)

A playwright has defended nights solely for black audiences at his West End show, saying it allows black people “to feel safe in a place where they often do not feel safe”.

Slave Play, starring Kit Harington, opens at the Noel Coward Theatre in June for a three-month run.

But the theatre will be open to an “all-black identifying audience’” to allow them to watch “free from the white gaze” on two nights in July and September. It comes after the theatre industry was criticised for a lack of diversity among its audiences, which traditionally have been overwhelmingly white.

Playwright Jeremy O Harris, said he was “so excited’ by the “Black Out nights” initiative.

He told BBC Sounds: “For me, as someone who wants and yearns for black and brown people to be in the theatre, who comes from a working-class environment, who wants people who do not make six figures to feel like theatre is a place for them, it is a necessity to radically invite them in with initiatives that say, ‘You’re invited. Specifically you.’”

He added: “There are a litany of places in our country that are generally only inhabited by white people, and nobody is questioning that, and nobody is saying that by inviting black audiences here you are uninvited.

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