Dominique Morisseau withdraws play from LA theater, citing “Harm”

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Playwright Dominique Morisseau ended the airing of her play “Paradise Blue” just a week after it opened at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, saying the black women who worked on the series had been “verbally abused and diminished.”

Morisseau did not describe precisely what happened. But in a 1,100-word Facebook post on Wednesday, she said that members of the creative team had been “allowed to behave disrespectfully,” that she had asked a team member for an apology and that “instead of firmly supporting this, the Geffen continued to allow more abuse.

“The evil could have escalated,” Morisseau said in the Facebook post.

“I gave the theater an ultimatum,” she added. “Respect the Black womxn artists who work on my show, or I will remove my piece.” “

In a statement about the cancellation, the Geffen Playhouse said officials had “apologized to everyone involved” and admitted they “failed” in their commitment to the artists.

“An incident between members of the production has been brought to our attention and we have not responded decisively to remedy it,” the theater statement said on Wednesday. “As a result of these missteps, some members of the production felt in danger and were not fully supported.”

“Paradise Blue,” set in 1949, is part of Morisseau’s Detroit trilogy of plays, which were produced widely in theaters across the country. He performed on Off Broadway in 2018; Geffen’s production had received positive reviews on November 18 and was scheduled to continue until December 12.

“Skeleton Crew,” another play in the trilogy, is scheduled to begin Broadway performances on December 21.

The theater declined to comment beyond its written statements. Morisseau did not respond to a request for further comment.

Morisseau’s decision to withdraw the play from what she described as the mistreatment of black performers and the dismissal of their complaints comes as the theater continues to grapple with how to reform and improve its culture.

Protests over the police murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020 sparked a national awareness of the racism and inequality in America that resonated throughout the world of theater. As artists prepared to come back from the long pandemic shutdown, some became more outspoken about what they say are pervasive issues in the industry.

This summer, Broadway brokers signed a pact pledging to strengthen the industry’s diversity practices as theaters prepare to reopen.

In her Facebook post, Morisseau – who won a Tony Award nomination as a writer for “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” – said she was “gutted” by this that had happened with “Paradise Blue”. “

She urged the theater industry to “look within and recognize a pervasive culture of anti-black, anti-woman and anti-black woman.”


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