Theatre is all in the timing. But there’s timing – and then there’s timing.
This week, Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago premiered a new 35-minute play called Duchess! Duchess! Duchess! written by Vivian J.O. Barnes and directed by Toronto’s Weyni Mengesha.
Filmed at the end of last year, the two-hander is about race and royalty, and was inspired by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex’s, experiences as a Black woman marrying into the Royal Family.
And it was always planned to be released online March 10 – long before Meghan and her husband ever had a bombshell tell-all interview with Oprah scheduled.
Now extremely topical, Duchess! Duchess! Duchess! is being covered by theatre critics across the English-speaking world. It was named a critic’s pick by The New York Times and received a four-star review in the Guardian. No mean feat at a time when we’re deluged with digital theatre.
Mengesha, whose day job is artistic director of Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre Company, tuned in Sunday night to the Oprah broadcast as so many others, texting with Barnes when what was said on television eerily echoed the play they were about to premiere.
To these two Black women watching, the revelations of racism the Duchess experienced in…