The Oscar’s might be so white, but Broadway is so black and bold right now with the debut of Danai Gurira’s play Eclipsed, and that proud beauty is greatly displayed on the latest cover of Uptown magazine.
The project has the distinction of being the first play to be written, directed, produced by, and only star black women, and it’s that achievement that motivates Gurira as a playwright.
“That for me is really the most important thing, the exposure of these voices,” she told Uptown. “Honestly, the reason why I write what I write is because it’s kind of inexplicable the silence and the lack of representation around these types of women and these stories. That’s kind of the thing that excites me the most is the idea that we’re breaking that type of barrier with these types of women and hearing these particular voices on The Great White Way. It’s really time to break through those barriers and show that there isn’t a reason for the lack of representation or the under-representation.”
Ticket sales back up Gurira’s words, as the play enjoyed a sold-out run at The Public Theater Off-Broadway before it closed November 29. On February 23, the curtain opened for the first performance of Eclipsed’s 17-week run on Broadway. For Gurira, “Creating this play was an act of love,” she says. “I really felt like I had to tell this story and I was really scared out of my mind.
“I got on a plane from New York to Ghana and from Ghana to Liberia and I was broke. All of those grants … you get the money after you get back. I needed it before I went … but I knew I had to do it, my heart-felt really driven to tell the stories in the voice of the women. We all knew who [Liberian politico] Charles Taylor was, but no one knew who these amazing women were who survived the war and helped it end, but they know who he is. So that sort of infuriated me. So I said I’m going to try and get these women to tell me their stories. I was crazy.”
The play, which tells the story of five women brought together in the midst of the upheaval of the Liberian Civil War, touched Lupita Nyong’o in a similar way.
“I was first cast as the understudy in the role I’m playing now so it was the very first role I under-studied and it was the very first role that I was assigned to at Yale. I was just drawn. I thought it was an incredibly engaging and riveting story and I was just dumbfounded that I never experienced anything like it before — five African women telling their stories and each of the women are so distinct from the other one. And it was so funny and also heart-breaking at times. It was just a very powerful story.
“I’m very proud to be part of a milestone of a production that is all female…and to be a part of a production like none other that has been on Broadway and is also changing the narrative of what is possible on Broadway.”
Check out what the other stars of Eclipsed had to say about this groundbreaking play on Uptown.com.