Academy Award-nominated writer Michael Weller says he is “heartbroken” over Brandeis University’s decision to cancel performances of his anti-political correctness play Buyer Beware.
Over the course of his career, playwright Michael Weller has received the NAACP Outstanding Contribution Award, a Drama Desk Award, and an Academy Award nomination for his screenwriting work on the 1981 film Ragtime. Weller was excited to give back to his alma mater, Brandeis University, when he offered them the opportunity to perform his new play Buyer Beware.
Buyer Beware focuses on a fictional Brandeis student who plans to perform a provocative stand-up comedy routine that touches on hot-button political issues and is threatened by the school’s administration with academic probation in the hopes that he will cancel his performance. Ultimately, the main character performs his routine, and students protest in response.
After a backlash from Brandeis community members, the performance of Buyer Beware was canceled. “Following open and productive conversations between [Weller] and faculty from the Theater department and the Division of Creative arts, together we decided to engage with the play through a rigorous, team-taught course next semester, while [Weller] will premiere the play in a professional venue,” the university said in a statement.
But Weller says the theater department never contacted him. “That’s false,” Weller said. “Since I delivered the play, I haven’t heard from the theater department.”
Student Andrew Child led the charge against the play. “There are black characters who are written clearly by an older white person who doesn’t really understand the nuances of the Black Lives Matter movement,” he claimed. “The white male protagonist, his whole story line was fleshed out and well thought out and carefully constructed.”
“I wanted to give it to the school,” Weller said after learning about the decision to cancel the performance. “I’m personally heartbroken.”