A New York Times reporter appeared to cheer on a play that at one point, asked white people to leave seemingly because of the color of their skin.
The story: The New York Times critic at large Maya Phillips revealed in a recent review she penned that non-black people were kicked out of a play she attended at the very end. Phillips wrote about a play by Aleshea Harris that is being shown at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The play is titled “What to Send Up When It Goes Down.”
According to the play’s website, the play’s targeted audience is black people but white people can attend it as well.
“The play was created for a Black audience but all are welcome. The intention of the play is to create a space for as many Black-identifying audience members as possible,” the play’s website reads.
Philips’ review, however, says that while white people were allowed to watch the play, during the last few minutes of it, all non-black people were asked to leave the show and go into the lobby.
The reaction: Phillips suggested in her review that she enjoyed the last few minutes with the all-black audience and that this time, she didn’t care how the white people who saw the play reacted to it.
“As a critic and a reporter, part of what I do is read the room — how and why audiences react to the happenings onstage, and what that says about the work. But here, I didn’t want to care. In the show’s final minutes, non-Black audience members were invited to leave the theater and gather in the lobby. When I recounted this to a friend afterward, she asked what the white audiences saw, if anything, but I don’t know and — I know this is shameful to admit — I don’t care,” she wrote.
Phillips said that she felt “the safest and most embraced by my Blackness in a theater” and that “Of course I believe in theater for everyone, but I also believe in theater for Black people, and Black people alone.”
She concluded: “I am concerned only with how Harris’s play made me and the other Black people in that room feel. Leaving the venue, I thought of what a pleasure and privilege it was to receive theater gift-wrapped especially for me. And what a pleasure and privilege it is for me to laud it. But the greater pleasure? To tell you something special happened among the Black people in a theater with a qualifier: This play, non-Black theater lover, is not for or about you, and that’s perfectly fine.”
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