The “slave play” of the play’s title has a literal meaning in this controversial three-act play by Jeremy O. Harris. The play follows three interracial couples who have decided to put themselves forward for a new and unique form of therapy: Antebellum Sexual Performance Therapy. In all cases, the black partner in the relationships no longer feels sexual pleasure with their white partner. In a rare sexual experiment, the couples play out white-black, master-slave relationships as a means to understanding how their own racial identities and history play into their sexual relationship.
The active part of the sexual therapy takes place on the old MacGranger Plantation in Virginia, with all participants in full mid-nineteenth century costume. When the couples then move into a modern-day therapy session, tensions mount, and big questions come to the forefront of the discussion: How does an interracial relationship work in modern day America and how does it really feel to be black in a relationship with a white partner? Does the history of slavery and racism continue to have an impact on the balance between sex and power? And who is to blame? There are no easy answers in this controversial and unflinching examination of sex, race, and power in contemporary America.
Editor’s Note: This play contains very strong language and explicit adult content.
Slave Play guide sections