This season marks a special time in Broadway’s long, illustrious history. Not only has NYC’s brightly lit theater hub returned from a year-and-a-half’s closing with a vengeance—as fan favorites have reopened to packed houses—it has come back with new purpose and focus on racial inequity and injustice, mirroring the country’s reckoning during the shutdown.
More than 15 new shows are scheduled to open before the end of 2021, seven of which are written by Black playwrights (an eighth, Slave Play, debuted in late 2019 and returns as well). Many of them also have Black directors and leads. This unprecedented number can be tied to the reawakening of the US and world to discriminatory treatment toward Black people, an awareness spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement. In addition to fighting for action around the unjust killings of Black people across the country, the protests have sparked conversations about the everyday injustices and prejudices that Black people face.
The storytellers we’ve profiled here are taking this opportunity to share nuanced tales, expand the idea of what a play can be and show the range of Black experiences in America, whether at the workplace, in the community or at home. These are Black voices and stories—in the form of history lessons, love tales and musicals—that deserve to be heard.
Click below for a look at the Black playwrights ushering in a new era on Broadway. —Rondel Holder