NEW YORK - Broadway's first new play announced for post-shutdown is written by a black playwright, featuring an all-black cast and helmed by an all-minority creative team.
Playwright Keenan Scott II wishes Broadway had a better track record when it came to diversity-- both on stage and behind the scenes.
"I think it’s been disproportionate towards people of color," says the Queens native who currently resides in Brooklyn.
But Scott believes the past year, which not only saw a Broadway shutdown but a renewed movement for social justice may have been the perfect recipe for a new start.
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During the time of this pandemic, I think that really has changed," he says. "The climate has changed. The temperature has changed."
There might not be a clearer sign of that changing temperature than the fact that his new play, "Thoughts of a Colored Man," was just given the green light for a Broadway run at a Shubert organization theatre.
It’s a show written by a black man, featuring an all-black cast, and put together by an all-minority creative team. It is also the first new play to announce an opening on the Great White Way, whenever theatre is allowed to resume.
The show follows the lives of seven men from seven different backgrounds in a gentrifying neighborhood in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.
"With the use of slam poetry, spoken word, traditional dialogue, and movement," Scott adds, "you see throughout the piece these men explore a range of human emotions from love, joy, and happiness to pain and sorrow.
Scott's passion for creative writing first played out on stage in high school in the form of beat poetry. But that was just a gateway, as he would soon discover in college.
"I realized that there was a void of stories that represented me and my community. So that propelled me to try my hand at writing my own play,"
That very first play turned out to be the same one now destined for Broadway, 13 years later.
"I feel honored to be one of the first shows to hopefully be able to push the needle toward changing that narrative in the years to come," Scott says. "Because its not about just having diverse talent, but also having that diversity represented behind the curtain as well."
Cue Brian Moreland, the show’s lead producer.
"What’s really unique about ‘Thoughts of a Colored Man" in terms of the makeup of the team, we are a diverse team, we have a lot of black people above the title working on the show, a lot of black people behind the table working on the show."
Moreland says having a diverse creative team helps ensure certain stories are no longer left out of the public dialogue.
"When you leave stories out, you leave history out," Moreland said. "And by leaving history out you’re not including all of us in the conversation as we move forward."
"There’s so much joy and laughter in this show, that it’s a side of black men that people don’t get a chance to see, and its a chance for people to lean in and understand and co-feel and experience black life. Because there’s so much joy and so much beauty in it. It’s so uncovered and so un-talked about," he says, adding, "So I just think about diversity-- it's good for all of us."