‘Slave Play’ Author Jeremy O. Harris Signs Two-Year HBO Deal, Developing Pilot

Slave Play playwright Jeremy O. Harris has entered a two-year overall deal with HBO, and is developing an untitled pilot as well as returning to the HBO series Euphoria as co-producer.

The deal was announced today by Francesca Orsi, executive vice president, HBO Programming.

“Jeremy is a singular talent whose groundbreaking work in the theatrical space has already revolutionized Broadway and we couldn’t be more honored to expand the reach of his voice in television,” says Orsi.

The overall deal includes a discretionary fund that Harris can use for new theatrical projects which he will “commission, enhance and produce” for himself and others, says HBO.

Slave Play, a controversial satire that imagined a novel form of couples’ therapy in which the interracial partners role-played, and then discussed, sexually charged vignettes of slavery in the American South. Directed by Robert O’Hara, the comedy-drama ran on Broadway from Oct. 6, 2019 to Jan. 19, 2020. Though largely critically acclaimed, the work also drew considerable attention for its explicit sexual and racial content.

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“Since first embarking on a theatre career I’ve known that tv/film would most likely be the only space where I could build a livelihood for myself, like many other playwrights before me,” Harris said in a statement today. “Yet, I wanted to make sure that any company I worked with in that space recognized the importance of maintaining the delicate ecology of theatre in these times.

“To know that HBO also believed in that vision gives me immense hope for the future of both industries. This unique partnership means that the relationship between the worlds of theatre and television can become more symbiotic in years to come. This also gives me an opportunity to spread the wealth among a community that has shared so much with me.”

The HBO announcement said that Harris’ untitled pilot will be based on his Yale Drama graduate thesis. Though the subject matter was not indicated, previous reports describe Harris’ thesis play Yell: a ‘documentary’ of my time here as a “cri de coeur about his Ivy League alienation.”

Harris will serve as an executive producer on the untitled project along with A24.

The playwright will remain as co-producer on Euphoria as the HBO drama heads into production on its second season. Euphoria debuted in June 2019.

On stage, Harris’ play Daddy A Melodrama will make its London debut at the Almeida Theatre on March 5, and the world premiere of his latest play, A Boy’s Company Presents: Tell Me If I’m Hurting You, begins previews Off Broadway at Playwrights Horizons on May 15.

Harris is represented by ICM Partners, ELIA and Granderson Des Rochers, LLP.

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