Rihanna's eternal single "Work" is both a part of the soundtrack and the plot of Jeremy O. Harris' Slave Play — the plantation-set play that's upsetting every expectation of Black storytelling on Broadway.
So even if she weren't... literally Rihanna, it would've been natural for O. Harris to hold the curtain for RiRi, when she was running late to a performance this weekend. And, to respond to the praises she texted him in the middle of his own play.
Related | PAPER People: Jeremy O. Harris
The playwright giddily shared the anecdote on Twitter, as well as a cute backstage photo of him cracking up with his idol.
Two things I learned today about the Type of theatre maker I am: When my idol texts that she’s running late. I hol… https://t.co/Bp0HBE6Nxx— Jeremy O. Harris (@Jeremy O. Harris) 1568525358.0
O. Harris called Rihanna "a 9th character" and "the patron saint" of his play, after stuffy folks on Twitter complained about Rihanna getting special privileges. "When Dionysus is coming you hold the curtain," he said simply.
To dead this weird discourse that has popped up... The patron saint of the play I wrote is literally a pop star, f… https://t.co/GcSMWhzdxW— Jeremy O. Harris (@Jeremy O. Harris) 1568586187.0
Also @sethyny I hope your niece learns that it’s not bad behavior to sing along during a musical if the spirit poss… https://t.co/SDzNLZEVva— Jeremy O. Harris (@Jeremy O. Harris) 1568586388.0
It might be understandable for people to be grouchy about celebrity treatment and the play starting late... if Rihanna's work weren't crucial to that existing in the first place.
The critiques also jumpstarted a larger conversation about theatre etiquette. O. Harris and theatre producer Stephanie Ybarra exchanged tweets about reimagining stifling and exclusive Broadway etiquette, agreeing that making theatre spaces welcoming and inclusive should be a far bigger priority than decorum.
"There's no right or wrong way to watch the theatre... the form is dying so I'd rather people just be there than not tbqh," O. Harris concluded.
FYI: miss me w tweets chastising anyone in my audience for using a phone to send a text. I’ve seen too many “genera… https://t.co/s6ANkSLzMX— Jeremy O. Harris (@Jeremy O. Harris) 1568584846.0
IDK. There’s no right or wrong way to watch the theatre....the form is dying so I’d rather ppl just be there then not tbqh.— Jeremy O. Harris (@Jeremy O. Harris) 1568587440.0
Sent an email this very day about the same topic. Can we stop being so precious about the way audiences choose to e… https://t.co/imlKneyMaM— Stephanie Ybarra (@Stephanie Ybarra) 1568595302.0
I always knew that @saybarra was ACTUALLY about finding new ways to inviting ppl in to the world of “Literary theat… https://t.co/fMit4J8qTd— Jeremy O. Harris (@Jeremy O. Harris) 1568649884.0
This is a smart and crucial discussion. Either way, Rihanna is not beholden to the earthly rules, on Broadway or elsewhere, and that's just fine.
Photo via Getty