#SaveAintNoMo: Black Stories Deserve to be on Broadway

 

Playwright Jordan E. Cooper's "Ain't No Mo," a brilliant comedic portrait of Black American life, took to the Broadway stage on December 1.

Written by Jordan E. Cooper, directed by Stevie Walker-Webb, and presented by Lee Daniels, the show is unapolgetically, and thrillingly, Black and queer from start to finish, "blending sketch, satire, avant-garde theater, and a dose of drag," "Ain't No Mo" asks "What if the U.S. government offered Black Americans one-way plane tickets to Africa?"

Jordan E. Cooper via Instagram on the opening night of "Ain't No Mo."

Despite praise from the Black community, as well as positive reviews and praise from critics and media outlets, "Ain't No Mo's" Broadway run was cut short very quickly after it's opening night.

While the play was originally scheduled to run until March 2023, Cooper announced, via a December 9 statement posted to Instagram, that "Ain't No Mo" would be forced to close on December 18.

Starting the hashtag #SaveAintNoMo, Cooper shared "Now they've posted an eviction notice... But thank God Black people are immune to eviction notices." The message impressed the way "Ain't No Mo" was bringing something new, original, and living to Broadway, and urged supporters to buy tickets to help support the show if they were able. 

Since, #SaveAin'tNoMo has gone virual, garnering public support and messages of praise, hope, and love for the show. Celebrities such as Jada Pinkett-Smith and Will Smith, Tyler Perry, Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade, Shonda Rhimes, and Sara Ramirez have expressed support for "Ain't No Mo" as well, buying out entire shows to keep the curtains up, while others have backed the show by sharing messages, taking to social media to advocate for the show, and donating to the cause.

The outpouring of love and support thus far has only demonstrated the ways in which we continue to show up for and champion our community.

While the play's run was extended through December 23, the work is not over, and an extension does not absolve the fact that cutting "Ain't No Mo's" Broadway run short also pulls Black stories and much-needed representation from the stage. 

"Ain't No Mo" made Jordan E. Cooper the youngest Black playwright in Broadway history. While Black and Black queer stories have been told on Broadway in the past (most recently with the ramifying musical A Strange Loop), the Broadway stage has not historically been a home to a proportionate amount of stories that completely center and focus on Black people and other people of color. "Ain't No Mo" is providing that representation, bringing a more diverse audience to the theater, the importance of which cannot be emphasized enough.

Cooper and the "Ain't No Mo" team also worked to make the show (and a chance to visit Broadway at large) accessible for the community, a gesture that is not often given and which should not be overlooked, by offering an average ticket price of $50.

In general, theatre and playwrighting is an extremely difficult industry to find your footing in, with access to this space being increasingly limited for people of marginalized backgrounds and identities. Cooper's ascension to the Broadway stage (becoming the youngest Black playwright in Broadway history and bringing an authentically Black story to the space) is a step forward in advancing proper representation in the industry.

With so few opportunities for Black people and people of color to see themselves represented authentically on such stages, it would certainly be a step in the wrong direction to close the curtains on "Ain't No Mo" so soon, especially as folks continue to show up and show out for the work that's celebrating and made for them. 

Perhaps best said by GLAAD's Communities of Color and Media Director DaShawn Usher, "Ain't No Mo" is "worthy of being seen, it deserves to be on Broadway and have the longest run possible."