“No Brits. No Chekhov translations. No classics,” that was the line spoken by Carole Rothman as she unveiled next years season for Second Stage. As the Artistic Director of Second Stage, Ms. Rothman is now also in charge of programming a nonprofit, Broadway house, as the company just acquired the Helen Mills Theatre.
Although the Mills is the smallest Broadway theatre, it will now be home to an array of diverse, uncompromising and necessary stories. Second Stage unveiled that out of the nine living, breathing, and working contemporary playwrights it will produce next year, seven of them are women. More importantly- four of them are women of color, and one, Young Jean Lee, will be the first ever Asian-American female playwright to be on Broadway.
It may be about a million years too late and there may still be a billion problematic issues left to work out, but now there is movement!!! Young Jean Lee will finally receive the level of critical, monetary, and commercial success she deserves.
With this bold and unapologetic new plan, Second Stage is telling Broadway audiences to wake up. New models can be successful. There is value in the production of modern stories. What the world needs is not another version of A Dolls House. What the commercial theatre needs is Straight White Men. And from there, the possibilities are endless. Will there be a time when we get to see The Shipment on a Broadway stage? I really hope so.
It may be a gamble, but I’m willing to bet that come this fall, the Helen Mills will be packed every night. This is not a solution- far from it- but this is a step in the right direction.