Theater

Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s Acclaimed ‘Pass Over’ Heading To Broadway

Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s play Pass Over, which received the 2019 Lortel Award for Outstanding Play for its Off Broadway run, will open at Broadway’s August Wilson Theatre for a limited engagement. Dates and cast have not been announced.

The play will be directed by Obie Award winner Danya Taymor.

The 2017 play, which was filmed at Chicago’s Steppenwolf theater by Spike Lee for a 2018 adaptation that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, will be updated and revised for its Broadway debut. The Broadway production will be “a new version that centers the health, hope and joy of our audiences, especially Black people,” said the playwright in a statement.

Pass Over, drawing inspiration from Waiting for Godot and the Exodus story, is set on a city street corner where Moses and Kitch “stand around – talking shit, passing the time, and hoping that maybe today will be different.” As they dream of their promised land, a stranger wanders into their space and disrupts their plans.

“In the summer of 2017, soon after our nation had elected Donald Trump as president, my creative team and I opened a production of Pass Over that shocked the conscience of our audiences,” Nwandu said. “It premiered in Chicago at Steppenwolf and was captured by Spike Lee for Amazon Prime.”

In 2018, Nwandu, wanting “to prick the conscience of liberal Americans who remain tentative in their condemnation of violence against Black people,” changed the ending of the play for the Off Broadway production at Lincoln Center’s Claire Tow Theater.

“And now, as my team and I prepare to produce this play again,” Nwandu said, “I’ve asked myself: when the state-sanctioned murder of Black people in the United States remains visible and routine, and the world continues to reckon with the loss, trauma, and alienation caused by the global pandemic, how do I meet this moment?

“Though much about Pass Over remains a lament over the lives of Black people stolen too soon, I am happy to confirm that my team and I, along with our producers, are presenting a new version that centers the health, hope and joy of our audiences, especially Black people. We are re-uniting to envision this play again, to tell a version of the story on Broadway where Moses & Kitch both survive their encounter with white oppression.”

The production reunites the full design team from the Lincoln Center Theater/LCT3 production, with set design by Wilson Chin, costume design by Sarafina Bush, lighting design by Marcus Doshi and sound design by Justin Ellington.

Pass Over will mark the Broadway debuts of both Nwandu and Taymor, and will be produced by Matt Ross, Jujamcyn Theaters, Lincoln Center Theater, Concord Theatricals, Renee Montgomery, Blair Underwood, Madeleine Foster Bersin and Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu.


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