UK government concerned by Broadway show's 'black-only' performances | World News - Hindustan Times

UK government concerned by Broadway show's 'black-only' performances

Mar 01, 2024 12:02 AM IST

UK government concerned by Broadway show's 'black-only' performances

A Broadway play's plan to hold performances for black-only audiences in London this year is "wrong" and "divisive", the prime minister's office said on Thursday.

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"Slave Play", to be shown at the Noel Coward Theatre in London's West End from June 29 until September 21, will hold two "Black Out" shows aimed at an "all-black-identifying audience" that is "free from the white gaze".

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's spokesman said the reports were "concerning" and that "more information was being sought".

"The prime minister is a big supporter of the arts and he believes that the arts should be inclusive and open to everyone, particularly where those arts venues are in receipt of public funding," the spokesman said.

The play, written by US actor Jeremy O. Harris, tells a story of "race, identity and sexuality" at the MacGregor Plantation in the southern US during the early 21st century.

The "Black Out" concept was pioneered by Harris in New York for the original 2019 production of "Slave Play".

"Obviously, these reports are concerning and further information is being sought," Sunak's spokesman said.

"But clearly, restricting audiences on the basis of race would be wrong and divisive."

According to the "Black Out" website, the aim of the event was to create an environment "in which an all-Black-identifying audience can experience and discuss an event in the performing arts, film, athletic, and cultural spaces -- free from the white gaze".

It said noone was prevented from attending a performance, but added that "Black Out" shows were private, invitation-only events.

Harris told the BBC that he wanted black people to feel safe "with a lot of other black people in a place where they often do not feel safe".

"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," he told the broadcaster.

The "Black Out" nights in London are due to be staged on July 17 and September 17.

The Tony Award nominated show will feature Banana star Fisayo Akinade, Denzel Washington's daughter Olivia Washington and Game Of Thrones actor Kit Harington among the cast.


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