A critically acclaimed playwright was forced to defend his show in person on Friday after an audience member accused it of being "racist against white people."
Jeremy O. Harris, whose theatrical debut, "Slave Play," began its Broadway run last month, was taking audience questions following a performance of the show last Friday.
The show, which focuses on three interracial couples who take part in an Antebellum-era, slave-master role-playing exercise as a form of therapy, has been deemed one of the "most provocative" Broadway shows in years. It's also received rave reviews from critics.
But the show seemingly left a negative impression on at least one audience member, who stood up to confront Harris, who is black, following Friday's show. A video of the incident, posted to Twitter by Washington Post journalist Adam B. Kushner, captured the woman's expletive-laden rant.
Just saw the amazing @SlavePlayBway by @jeremyoharris after which a white audience member jumped up and accused him of being “racist against white people.” The confrontation proceeded from there. Clips in this thread. #slaveplay pic.twitter.com/KiXbo0rdcC— Adam B. Kushner (@AdamBKushner) November 30, 2019
The frustrated woman tells Harris that she "doesn't want to hear that white people are the f****** plague all the time," adding that she believes his play is "racist against white people." She then says she has been a victim of false arrests and sexual assault, as well as having her children taken away.
"How the f*** am I not a f****** marginalized member of this g**d*** society?" she asked Harris.
Harris, who has responded to controversy surrounding his play in the past, said he did not intend to make the woman feel as though she hadn't also been marginalized.
"I never once said that you as a white woman were not a marginalized person," he says. "But if you heard that in my play, I don't know what to tell you. Perhaps read it or see it again."
One witness, who identified herself only as Sydney, told BuzzFeed News that the incident made her jaw drop, adding that the woman was shouting "at the top of her lungs." Still, the 25-year-old witness added that some in the audience seemed to agree with the angered woman.
"People were yelling in support of [both her and Harris]. You could tell other people felt similarly to what she did," Sydney said.
After Harris's original response, the woman continued by saying she was tired of hearing about things that happened "300 years ago" and a "whole bunch of stuff about how white people don't get how racist they are."
"This isn't every white person," Harris replied. "This play is about eight specific people — and if you don't see yourself up here, that's great. These are eight specific people that are in a play, which is a metaphor for our country."
Harris later shared a clip of the exchange to his own Twitter account, along with the caption, "Imma tell my kids this was 'The Blind Side,'" a reference to the 2006 book and 2009 film about a black football player who is aided by a white family as he makes his way to the NFL.
Imma tell my kids this was The Blind Side pic.twitter.com/lAbc9D8KuP— Jeremy O. Harris (@jeremyoharris) November 30, 2019
The playwright later spoke on the incident in an interview with the Washington Post, telling the paper he allowed the woman to speak because if he hadn't, "it would have been hypocritical of me as someone who said from the beginning [that] I wanted this to be a play that sparked conversations."