How ‘Pass Over’ Is Making ‘Precedent-Level Changes’ on Broadway

When the Broadway production of Antoinette Nwandu’s play “Pass Over” opens on Broadway, it’ll incorporate significant changes — both on stage and behind the scenes.

Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:

The creative shifts include a new ending that’s very different from previous versions of the show, which premiered in Chicago in 2017, played Lincoln Center Theater in 2018 and remains available to stream on Amazon Prime in Spike Lee’s filmed version.

The backstage innovations, meanwhile, encompass compensation for actors that’s well above the Equity minimum, plus a weekly mental health stipend. According to playwright-producer Nwandu, who appeared alongside director Danya Taymor on the new episode of Variety‘s Stagecraft podcast, the creators and producers of “Pass Over” instituted those structural changes in the hopes of inspiring others to shift the model, too.

“This small cast let me at least begin to create precedent-level changes,” Nwandu said. “So if you are going to produce a show on Broadway and be a part of it in the coming days — let me show you that there is a way to get it done where we treat people like human beings all the time.”

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She added, “The change that we’re talking about in our show, the healing that we’re talking about in the play, also has to happen in rehearsal when we’re making the play. I can’t treat you like sh– and say, ‘Ooh, the play is about healing!’”

Meanwhile, producers are working to pull in audiences outside of the traditional (i.e. older and white) Broadway demographic by locking in accessible ticket pricing options and forging partnerships with organizations like churches and BIPOC-led community groups. Nwandu explained the details in the new Stagecraft, and also outlined just how different the play’s new finale will be from the prior versions. Hint: The character who died in those productions will live in the new rewrite.

“I think many people are like, ‘Oh, you’re doing a remount,’” said Taymor, who directed those previous stagings and is currently in rehearsal for the Broadway incarnation. “No, I’m just starting first rehearsal on a new play! [But] with actors who somehow know all the words, have it all in their bodies, and already are all best friends.”

To hear the full conversation, listen at the link above or download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and the Broadway Podcast Network. New episodes of “Stagecraft” are released every other week.

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