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Young Jean Lee Leans Into the Uncomfortable With Her Broadway Debut Straight White Men

Playbill News

Young Jean Lee always begins a new play by asking herself: “‘What’s the last play in the world I would ever want to write?’ And then I force myself to write that play.” It’s a daring approach, and one that’s paid off. Since quitting grad school—where she studied Shakespeare—and launching her own theatre company in New York City, Lee has garnered a reputation for creating theatre that is bold, adventurous, and singularly boundary defying. A fixture of the downtown experimental theatre scene, this summer the playwright and director will become familiar to a whole new audience when she makes her Broadway debut with Straight White Men.

“I’m always supposed to make what I’m not comfortable with,” says Lee. This, and her resistance to identity politics art, are the reason she’s ended up making quite a bit of it—plays that deal with race and identity in strange, funny, and sometimes confrontational ways. With Straight White Men, she wanted to explore an identity that felt the most challenging to her; so she wrote a play about a father and his three adult sons who come together to celebrate Christmas over board games and takeout. Sound familiar? Except it’s not. The play subverts the traditional family drama by becoming an exploration of American values, of capitalist belief systems versus social justice systems, and of identity and privilege... READ MORE