On July 23, Young Jean Lee made history when she became the first Asian-American woman to be produced on Broadway with the official opening of her work Straight White Men at Second Stage’s Helen Hayes Theater. The play stars Josh Charles (The Good Wife, The Antipodes), Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name), and Paul Schneider (Parks & Recreation)—all three making their Broadway debuts—as a trio of brothers home for Christmas to visit their father, played by Stephen Payne (August: Osage County).
But Lee’s play is less about the plot and more an examination of identity. “To me what’s important is to actually explore straight white maleness as a human identity as opposed to the default human position,” she told Playbill on the opening night red carpet (video below). “Rather, put them in a position where they are also having to think about the implications of their own identity position in the world and having to position themselves in a way that other people have been forced to for so many years.”
In other words: What does it mean to be a straight white man?
“Young Jean Lee as an Asian-American woman nailed so many aspects of straight white maleness,” says Hammer. “The funny thing about my character is that even though he tries to tell everyone that they need therapy, he never really asks what's going on with them. He thinks he has all the answers because they're only his answers from his perspective. And that's a big thing about being a straight white male is you think everybody needs to share your perspective and worldview and belief and sometimes people just don't and that's OK.”
Hammer also shared how he, Charles, and Schneider formed their brotherly bond in the rehearsal room, and what his favorite thing about doing a play is compared to film.
For more from Hammer, Lee, Schneider, Payne, as well as cast members Kate Bornstein and Ty Defoe, watch the full livestream above.