Woman Interrupts ‘Slave Play’ Q&A To Complain The Show Is ‘Racist Against White People’
Slave Play, Jeremy O. Harris’ complex and thoughtful play which the NY Times called “one of the best and most provocative new works to show up on Broadway in years,” has garnered rave reviews and some controversy before it even premiered on Broadway this fall. The show is funny, witty, outrageous, and as Harris has discussed previously can be uncomfortable for white audiences—especially for one woman who interrupted a Q&A with Harris following a performance last Friday.
According to witnesses, the woman, whom Harris has nicknamed “Talkback Tammy” on Twitter, stood up from her seat and loudly interrupted the Q&A just as it was finishing up. She accused the queer black playwright of being “racist against white people.” At one point, she complained that she didn’t “want to hear that white people are the fucking plague all the time.”
During her diatribe, which lasted for several minutes, she reportedly said she had been a victim of rape, false arrests, having her children taken away, and “being told as a single woman [she’s] not good enough to fucking raise them.” She asked Harris, “How the fuck am I not a fucking marginalized member of this goddamn society?”
He responded, “I never said you aren’t. I never once said that you as a white woman were not a marginalized person. But if you heard that in my play, I don’t know what to tell you. Perhaps read it or see it again.”
You can see two videos of the interaction below.
“My jaw was on the floor,” a woman who was sitting a few rows behind “Talkback Tammy” told BuzzFeed. “It was really wild, but in hindsight I’m not surprised at all that a white woman completely freaked out and couldn’t handle the emotions she was feeling.”
“She just freaked out,” the woman added. “The videos don’t do it justice. She went off on him… She was screaming at the top of her lungs. She could not handle her own guilt or responsibility in her own feelings, and she demanded that Jeremy help explain and handle her feelings.”
Harris told the Washington Post that he didn’t want to shut down the dialogue, or dismiss her, as many suggested on Twitter, because he knew his play could spark such heated conversations. “The play shows the unconscious ways that white people take up space, that they don’t leave open for black people,” Harris told them. “This play doesn’t necessarily have to be about her … but she did just create her own character.” He added, “Rage is a necessary lubricant to discourse.”
The irony of this white woman screaming “are you telling me I’m not a marginalized member of this society!?” during this talkback after the broadway show “Slave Play”.
Folks need to see it. https://t.co/BLHofYtdBT
— Joey (@joeyhunziker) December 1, 2019
On Twitter, Harris later wondered whether the discussion had changed the woman’s mind at all about the play: “I just want someone to find Talkback Tammy to see what she thinks now. I was that [mad] after seeing Synecdoche, New York then fell in love three weeks later when I revisited.” However, it doesn’t sound like she did, because he soon learned that she had later returned to the theater to demand a refund.