The 40-Year-Old Version, one of the best films released this year from director and playwright Radha Blank, highlights the hidden and overt instances of racism in the theater industry. In a new profile piece, Blank and 39 of her Black colleagues share instances of when they’ve faced the same over the course of their careers.
The Los Angeles Times published an excellent account of 40 playwrights, including Blank, who all share when they’ve been met with the looming specter of racism while pitching and attempting to bring their stories to life. The profile opens by mentioning a pivotal scene in The 40-Year-Old Version where the main character, played by Blank, is confronted with the passive racist barbs of a Broadway producer.
With over three dozen accounts of these brazen acts, one that stood out immediately was from Jocelyn Bioh, who wrote the play Nollywood Dreams which nods to Nigeria’s Nollywood film industry.
From the Times featuring words from Bioh:
My play “Nollywood Dreams” is a comedy set in the boom of the Nigerian film industry. One associate artistic director said to me, “When I read about Nigeria in the newspaper, all I hear about is Boko Haram, and all of the struggles and corruption in the government there. So I’m just trying to understand why everybody in your play is so happy.”
Other accounts from Katori Hall, whose play Pussy Valley was turned into the acclaimed P-Valley show on Starz, James Ijames, and Vincent Terrell Durham among others are all especially jarring and even shocking at some points, although thankfully these creative minds are continuing to create and thrive despite what they’ve faced.
Check out the full profile here.
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