Broadway: PASS OVER (August Wilson Theatre)

Post image for Broadway: PASS OVER (August Wilson Theatre)

by Gregory Bernard on May 19, 2021

in Theater-New York

The Lincoln Center Theater production of Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s acclaimed play PASS OVER, directed by Danya Taymor, will reopen Broadway’s August Wilson Theatre (245 W 52nd Street, New York, NY) for a limited engagement, with exact dates to be announced shortly on Pass Over Broadway. This will mark the Broadway debut of both Nwandu and Taymor.

Stage and Cinema‘s review of the Steppenwolf production: Nwandu transforms Waiting for Godot into an urban nightmare with a Trumpian twist. It’s no longer the achingly repetitious vaudeville of colorful hobos waiting for a break in their boredom. Samuel Beckett’s allegory is now a topical gloss on the futility felt by young black men and the “genocidal” violence they fear and face from the police (here “po po”). And in Nwandu’s raw translation, “Godot” — a white overseer named “Mister” — does show up, with a vengeance. Pass Over is an 80-minute roller-coaster, dangerous with pungent poetic personifications of white power and black victimhood.

Nwandu said “In the summer of 2017, soon after our nation had elected Donald Trump as president, my creative team and I opened a production [at Steppenwolf] of Pass Over that shocked the conscience of our audiences.

“In the summer of 2018, wanting to prick the conscience of liberal Americans who remain tentative in their condemnation of violence against Black people, I changed the ending of the play…

“And now, as my team and I prepare to produce this play again, 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 on 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.”

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynne Brookes July 8, 2021 at 1:41 pm

I’m thinking of seeing this play on my birthday, August 21st. I hope it doesn’t make me feel sad…I’ll be 71 years young on that day, and am taking myself out for my birthday, this time alone, because I don’t want to be responsible for anyone else’s dissatisfaction, if any. Usually, take a friend along, but am deciding to go solo.


Larry July 8, 2021 at 1:54 pm

Well, Lynne, while the play contains a heavy subject, it is quite wonderful. You may want someone to share it with — there was a lot of discussion in the lobby after I saw it.


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