Just a week after the West Coast premiere of Blue Paradise opened to rave reviews at the Geffen Playhouse, playwright Dominique Morisso canceled the play and canceled the remainder of the play, citing harm to his black female artists.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Morrisso wrote that her decision was made after she discovered that the black female artists who participated in the show were “being verbally abused and humiliated.” Morisseau wrote that she was investigating and that she and other artists brought the issue to the attention of Westwood Theater.
“I wrote email after email. Draw lines in the sand. And he even gave mercy and mercy, which were not necessarily justified, ”wrote Morisso. “I was greeted with audacious dishonesty. Commitment to do something and then doing the exact opposite of that commitment. And in the process, I watched more and more members of my creative team continue to suffer. “
Morisseau did not elaborate on what happened, but noted: “The harm started from the inside. The harm occurred within the creative team when fellow artists were allowed to behave disrespectfully. “
When a harm is reported to the theater, and the theater has the final say on how to deal with the harm but does not address it appropriately, she said, then “it’s time to turn off the plug.”
On Wednesday evening, Geffen issued a statement to The Times that read in part: “Our attention has been brought to the attention of an incident between the cast members and we have not responded strongly to it. As a result of these mistakes, some of the participants in the production felt insecure and did not receive full support. “
The statement went on to say, “We continually review our best practices to ensure that artists and employees feel safe and perform at their best. In this case, we confirm that we have not fulfilled this obligation. We apologize to all contributors and, learning from this experience, commit ourselves to continuing our ongoing work to improve and develop as artists and collaborators. “
Earlier in the day, Geffen announced the cancellation of the show via emails to ticket holders. The theater also posted a note on its website: “Due to unforeseen circumstances associated with the production, the remaining performances by Dominique Morisseau Paradise blue the Geffen Playhouse have been canceled. We are very proud of the show and regret that we had to interrupt it this time. “
In a Facebook post, Morisseau called Geffen “a necessary institution in our area.” He needs support to continue to make room for artists, playwrights, storytellers and change makers in Los Angeles theater. Even if I am no longer in this number. “
She continued, “But he will not serve our area until he finds the root of what went wrong here. To blame anything other than the culture of misogyny and abuse that has been allowed to flourish in our industry for generations is to lie to ourselves and everyone else. ”
Paradise Blue is part of Morisseau’s Detroit Project, a three-piece series including Skeleton Team and Detroit ’67, which chronicles the life and history of the black community in Morisseau’s hometown. Skeleton Crew took place at Geffen in 2018 and is due to open on Broadway in January. Paradise Blue, which took place in a jazz club in the city center in 1949, was due to run until December 12th.