Crowe-Legacy was just one year ahead of Harris in the graduate program at Yale School of Drama when the writer began to mount the first workings of his provacative play about race, sex, power, and trauma. She originated the role of Kaneisha in 2017 at Yale’s Langston Hughes Festival and went with the production to its first public reading at the O’Neill.
“I remember reading it and thinking it was scary and exciting,” she says. She admits that working on the play was sometimes difficult, but she always felt a connection to and understanding of Kaneisha, a Black woman in an interracial marriage whose sex therapy involves role play as slave and master.
After her graduation in 2018, Crowe-Legacy’s path diverged from Slave Play when the actress came to New York and quickly scored roles in plays at MCC and Playwrights Horizons. While Slave Play was premiering at New York Theatre Workshop, Crowe-Legacy was making her television debut in the Epix series Godfather of Harlem alongside Forest Whitaker.
Crowe-Legacy was in the audience of the Golden Theatre on opening night of the Broadway production of Slave Play, watching Joaquina Kalukango in the role she had originated three years prior. She immediately recalled the musicality of Harris’ writing and the drive of Robert O’Hara’s direction, “but it was also very, very different,” she says. Watching Kalukango’s take on the role expanded the ideas of what the character Kaneisha was going through. Seeing it played by someone else “made the universality of it even bigger for me.”
Watching that opening night also felt final for Crowe-Legacy. The play reached the pinnacle of theatre in her mind, so she put a button on her journey with it. But then the call came with the offer for the remount, and she enthusiastically accepted.
She will return to the role she created five years ago but without her graduate student frantic energy and the emotional fragility brought on by lack of sleep. “I feel a little more stable than I did then, so there’s a part of Kaneisha that I understand more now...about the life she lived with her husband before she got to this point. She is deeply in love with this man.” For Crowe-Legacy, that is the big question the play ends with: “Is love enough?”
“As much of a challenge as this role is and as much as she still scares me, there’s so much that I learn from her every single time I get to do the play. I’m really grateful to be back again,” she says.
She does, however, admit that she’s not really a fan of cantaloupe. Not sure why that’s relevant? Check out Slave Play in it’s return engagement at the August Wilson Theatre.