Shutdown Slave Play
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This is the letter I sent to the theater:
This past Saturday I attended Slave Play for the 8pm showing. I wanted to verbalize that this was one of the most disrespectful displays of anti-Black sentiment disguised as art that I have ever seen. As a Black woman I was terribly offended and traumatized by the graphic imagery mixed with laughter from a predominantly white audience.
I feel that the play’s writer and director, even as Queer Black men, were viscous in their depictions of slavery, Black sexuality, and specifically targets Black women. Slavery and its pervasive consequences that still affect the descendants of US chattel slavery are not funny and I am extremely disappointed that all involved thought this was an appropriate tool to challenge that status quo on race relations.
While I understand the subjective nature of art, there should be a line that freedom of expression does not cross when it’s connected to human atrocities, especially ones that have not truly been atoned for. The only reason I didn’t leave, like a couple of others, is that I wanted to watch the play in it’s entirety to gain full context of the vision. I was sadly disappointed that the final scene would be so degrading to my psyche.
Art, in any form, can not and should not be separated from its historical context. Hearing the crack of the whip in conjunction with the imagery and white audience members laughing sends chills up my spine as I write this.
I am reaching out to the theater in hopes that this can be an opportunity for you to take a stand against this type of disrespect. Black women specifically continue to be used and misused in public discourse. Our voices remain stifled in the rigidity of our existence. Our bodies are used and discarded without anyone being accountable. Just like when I reached out to the author of the play, he openly accused me of lying and called me a lonely soul. I produced a copy of the ticket and he did not retract or amend his initial statement when I was calling for an explanation of his artistic vision in reaction to the outcry against the existence of this play.
I am looking for resolve in this matter. I am looking for someone in this disaster of a production to take our concerns seriously. This play needs to be shut down. The depictions in this play are counterproductive to progressive racial dialogue. I am deeply disappointed and disgusted that there was no check system in this process.
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