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Slave play lottery

All Broadway Shows Now Reopening. Satirical yet sophisticated play, with a modern twist, about the sexual experiences of three interracial couples during the civil war era of slavery. Slave Play is an exciting and powerful play written by Jeremy O.

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A must-see? Audiences are about to decide.

Jackpot: for colonial slaves, playing the lottery was a chance at freedom

By Michael Paulson. The first day of rehearsal on Broadway usually goes like this: Circle up. Make introductions. Offer thanks, express optimism, maybe crack a joke.

Clear the room of onlookers, and off you go. Harris and many members of the cast and crew, is black. So with just four weeks to go until the first preview, he ignored the naughtily named snacks and invoked his forebears. Broadway is a perilous place: Even amid an overall boommost shows fail financially. Arriving years after American slavery beganthe play, often funny and pervasively unsettling, examines that lingering wound through the frustrated sex lives, and taboo sexual fantasies, of three contemporary interracial couples.

Set on the grounds of a Virginia play, its racially charged sex lottery and simulated dominance and submission are potentially so triggering that a pre-Broadway production supplied post-show lobby counselors. The Broadway production is now in previews and scheduled to run for 17 weeks at the seat John Golden Theater.

There were hair people and makeup people and a tailor at a sewing machine; a stylist and a publicist and ad reps and talent managers and who knows how many assistants, one of whom spent the morning steaming racks of clothing that might slave be worn. It was the day of Ms.

Online objections to the Off Broadway run had been set off, at least in part, by a photograph in this newspaper, showing Kaneisha, dressed like a slave, twerking for her husband, costumed as an overseer. A hashtag was born — ShutDownSlavePlay — as well as an online petitionobjecting to the play as degrading black women and dishonoring enslaved people.

Courting curiosity, not controversy

The criticism, as happens these days, got ugly. Some of it alluded to Mr. The nonprofit called the police, beefed up security, and offered car service home for those feeling unsafe. But word of mouth was excellent, the production was sold out and the show now has another run. This time, the creative team is determined to control the visuals. Press photographers are being barred from shooting sex, nudity or the scene in which Kaneisha wears slave garb.

Nobile said. So there Ms. Kalukango was in that photo studio, perched on a stool, wearing an oversized dress shirt cinched by a vintage corset, and displaying the fleshy interior of a halved cantaloupe. The melon, a prop in the show, adds mystery.

Kalukango got the role after her friend Teyonah Parris, who played Kaneisha downtown and weathered much of the animus, decided not to the Broadway production. But she has supported Ms. Kalukango was warned about likely blowback. But she said she believes that her character — twerking and all — is honored by the play. Kalukango said.

Harris, then an aspiring playwright in his late 20s who was about to start graduate school, was listening to a fellow reveler describe a kink-fueled sexual encounter. Ever the provocateur, Mr. Harris asked whether the man, who was white, would have felt as comfortable making party chatter about his experimentation if the woman he had been having sex with was black.

Squirming partygoers tried to change the subject. Harris decided to turn it into a play.

He noted that, during his childhood in Martinsville, Va. He wrote the intermissionless three-act work while in his first year at the Yale School of Drama, and from the beginning it was both successful and shocking he asked for an intimacy director to safeguard the performers during sex scenes. Even before the downtown production began, the play attracted interest from commercial producers — albeit theatrical adventurers with limited Broadway experience and a hunger to highlight new voices.

The two are an unusual pair — he is a college dropout who runs a seasonal tiki bar in coastal Branford, Conn. Their company, Seaview Productions named after a street in their hometown has invested in multiple productions; here they have top billing.

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A garrulous whirlwind, he is also unmissable: 6 feet 5 inches tall and often clad in Gucci, Telfar or Thom Browne. As luck would have it, among those who saw the show downtown was Mr. Then came Mr. Unlike most of the producers — not only on this show, but on Broadway overall — Mr. Carter is black.

How about selling tickets via pop-up vending machines? Placing posters in bodegas?

Could they target digital advertising to readers of stories about race? Buy Spotify spots aimed at fans of Rihanna, whose music is featured in the play? Harris was in Europe, but everyone knew his wishes. The conversation turned to guerrilla marketing.

Is broadway ready for ‘slave play’?

Tartick mentioned a company that used pressure washers to stencil logos onto dirty surfaces. Everyone was intrigued — the tactic, sometimes called clean graffiti, should be harmless and attention-getting.

But Ms. Marker raised a red flag. Weeks passed, and as a wall of mirrors topped by an oversized Rihanna lyric was erected inside the theater, behind-the-scenes jitters were intensifying. Ticket sales were good, but not great. The sidewalk spray was abandoned — too expensive, too risky.

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Other unproven ideas were set aside. Carter said. It reminds me of the music industry 10 years ago. Producers decided to bank on building word of mouth before the Oct. Harris reached out to via Twitter.

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Harris told the crowd just before the performance began. And leave the theater and talk about it. Harris invited a slew of models and deers, in town for New York Fashion Week, and the producers planned a wee-hours after-party at the swanky Edition Hotelco-hosted by Telfar. They hired a specialty public relations firm, the Chamber Groupto broaden media outreach and cultivate African-American micro-influencers.

And Mr. Harris has been developing. Harris, who is sitting for photographs and interviews with multiple magazines and news outlets.

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Speaking of talking: The production, acknowledging that some patrons will want help processing what they have seen, said it would hold a weekly Sunday morning discussion at a Lower East Side restaurant. And the production had a public relations firm, DKCgive a media workshop for the cast that included this piece of advice: If there are threats on social media, take a screenshot and alert the production.

In financial terms, it needs to gross at least 60 percent of its potential to make a profit, and Mr. Nobile is determined to do just that. Carter argued that the play has already made a difference by boosting the careers of the artists involved, many of whom are working on Broadway for the first time.

Harris said he wants to spark conversation. As for Mr. Is it lasting all 17 weeks? To me it is a success because there is a group of people who have asked us to do it again, and more people can see it and form their own opinions.

Supported by. But for many of the participants, profit is only one metric.