The 74th Tony Awards were held Sunday night (September 26) in New York and a Slave Play, which broke records with 12 nominations, seemed poised to notch at least one of the coveted trophies. However, as the evening concluded, the controversial Broadway production failed to win even one award despite all the hype and chatter around it.
Slave Play, from playwright Jeremey O. Harris, is a three-act play following the lives of three interracial couples entering into “Antebellum Sexual Performance Therapy” due to the Black partners no longer feeling physically attracted to their white partners. The original off-Broadway production launched in 2018 and then hit Broadway after its initial roaring success.
The play has garnered heavy criticism for its intense themes of slavery, assault, and other jarring images put forth but some critics say that those instances were intended to provoke thought and shake the core of viewers without a proper course set. There was a petition launched to shut down the play and despite its acclaim among critics, there were plenty of those in theater writing who agreed with the jeers.
The 12 nominations for Slave Play broke the record set in 2018 by Angels in America for most nominations for a non-musical play. Joaquina Kalukango was up for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play, and Ato Blankson-Wood was nominated for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play. The play was also up for the Best Play award, along with Robert O’Hara up for Best Direction of a Play, and Lindsey Jones nominated for Best Original Score.
On Twitter, Slave Play was trending on Monday (September 27) and some fans were pleased that the play didn’t get a Tony. We’ve got those reactions below. There is also a thread from Jeremy O. Harris that’s worth reading and perhaps explains that he too was aware of what the play’s potential for winning was ahead of everyone else.