A play called Straight White Men is about to make history, becoming the first play written by an Asian American woman to appear on Broadway. The show, written by experimental Korean-American playwright (and David Byrne and Kathleen Hanna collaborator) Young Jean Lee, revolves around three brothers (the aforementioned straight white men) visiting their widower father for Christmas. The eldest brother has an existential crisis over his failure to fulfill his own potential and privilege, and other things surely happen as well. It debuted in 2014 and was deemed both “compassionate and stimulating” and “mournful and inquisitive” by the New York Times.
Broadway does have a serious problem when it comes to representation. A study by Quartz and the Asian American Performers Action Coalition found that in the 2014-2015 season, 84.5% of all actors were white. This issue is also present behind the scenes: during Broadway’s 2015-2016 season, only two plays were written by women. A study by the Dramatists Guild and Lilly Awards Foundation released in 2016 found that over three seasons between 2011 and 2014, only 3.4% of 2,508 non-Broadway productions at 153 theaters were written by women of color.
Interestingly enough, Straight White Men’s Broadway debut will coincide with the 30th anniversary of the debut of David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly, which in 1988 became the first Asian American play to be produced on Broadway. Straight White Men is also the Broadway debut of Call Me By Your Name star and person the internet loves to half-heartedly dislike Armie Hammer, who presumably has been preparing for the role his entire life.