of promote-progress department
If you wanted to think of a children’s tale-style ‘evil’ character who needs to be stopped, you couldn’t beat the wealthy town evil who roams the country trying to kill local community theater productions in one play. beloved, so he can stage a massive Broadway reboot. So get on, Hollywood producer Scott Rudin, as the villainous villain. Rudin produces new Broadway adaptation of Harper Lee classic Kill a mockingbird. Of course, there is already a play based on the book, written by Christopher Sergel, which is performed widely across the country. Rudin, however, is producing a completely new version, written by famous Hollywood writer Aaron Sorkin.
Now a Ordinary, thinking, a nice person would immediately recognize that local community theater productions can easily coexist with this giant Broadway production with all the big names in Hollywood behind it. But it is apparently not Scott Rudin. Rudin’s lawyers claim that part of the contract between the company that owns the rights to the previous piece – a company called the Dramatic Publishing Company – if there is all Broadway version of Mockingbird, there can’t be any other Mockingbird performances within 25 miles of a town that had a population of 150,000 or more in 1960. First of all: what a strange contract. Second: It always seems like something anyone with the slightest emotional empathy would ignore when presenting the new Broadway show. But not Scott Rudin:
From Massachusetts to Utah, small community theater productions of “To Kill a Mockingbird” are shutting down under threat of lawsuit by the producer of the new Broadway production.
Never mind that the new version, written by Aaron Sorkin, is completely different from the play by Christopher Sergel that has been performed by high school students and community theater actors for decades. It also doesn’t matter that community theaters paid a license fee of at least $ 100 per performance to the Dramatic Publishing Company, which owns the rights to the earlier version of the play.
What matters, lawyers for Broadway producer Scott Rudin say, is that according to the contract between Dramatic and the Harper Lee estate, most amateur shows can’t take place now that a new version of the story is on the way. on Broadway.
Now you can imagine this was the kind of thing where lawyers were getting ahead and being more aggressive than they needed to be, and once that started to get attention, Rudin apologized and said it was a mistake. But no. Not Scott Rudin:
“We hate asking anyone to cancel any production of a play anywhere, but the DPC licensed productions infringe the rights granted to us directly by Harper Lee,” Rudin said in a statement.
That does not make any sense. If you hate asking someone to cancel a production, then you don’t have to demand that anyone cancel a production. The fact that it can “infringe the rights” of the contract does not require action. Rudin still had a choice. And he made a really horrible one.
Even Rudin’s statement is bullshit. His lawyers don’t just “ask” the small community theaters that have paid money to allow the play to cancel their production. Threatening them with massive legal costs and penalties:
With the dispute pending, Rudin’s lawyers began sending letters directly to theaters at the end of February. Theaters are threatened with damages of up to $ 150,000, reports the Associated Press. And so in cities across the country, artists are getting the bad news.
$ 150,000, of course, are the main statutory damages for intentional violation copyright. But it takes a special kind of horror to say that the small community theaters that paid and properly authorized a part are guilty of an intentional offense.
And, of course, this kind of perverse bullying works:
Dozens of community and nonprofit theaters have canceled their productions, according to the AP. Over 25 are scheduled to perform the original version this year, the New York Times reports. It is not known if these productions will continue.
The Kavinoky Theater in Buffalo, NY, which had sold about 3,000 tickets in advance, will replace Mockingbird with an adaptation of “1984” by George Orwell. “Thank you for supporting us during this difficult time,” the theater posted on Facebook. “As they say in the theater … THE SHOW MUST CONTINUE !!!!!!!!”
And at least one local theater has decided not to abandon its production, but rather to move it. The Mugford Street Players, based in the Marblehead suburb of Boston, are moving their performances to Gloucester to get around the contract restriction on performances within 25 miles of a major city.
It is terrible. If you’ve ever been involved, even remotely, in community theater productions, you know this is a labor of love rather than a serious money-making opportunity. These are people who put their heart and soul into putting on a performance for their community and now an asshole producer and his beloved Hollywood lawyers are coming to threaten them with bogus damages for putting on a different play that they have properly dismissed.
People should boycott Rudin / Sorkin’s production and go see a local community production instead.
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Filed Under: aaron sorkin, broadway, community theater, copyright, evil, harper lee, scott rudin, kill a mockingbird
Companies: drama publishing house