Monday, March 16, 2009

Big Theatre flexes its muscle

Okay, maybe "Big Theatre" is an exaggeration and maybe I just don't know how things work in the world of licensing agreements. But both of these stories seem so unfair:


Dario Fo is a Nobel Prize-winning Italian playwright. Last week, his representatives withdrew permission for a Live Arts, a small theatre in Charlottesville, Virginia, to mount a production of his play Accidental Death of an Anarchist.

The reason they gave was a pending Broadway engagement, although there's been no official announcement.

Accidental Death of an Anarchist did have a run on Broadway, a 1984 production that included Jonathan Pryce, Bill Irwin and Patti LuPone. It closed after 20 performances.

“This is a heartbreaking development for us,” said Live Arts Artistic and Executive Director John Gibson. The play was scheduled to run April 3-25. Live Arts is searching for alternative programming but the theatre does not have a full production to replace it.

Act II

Thunder & Lightning Ensemble, a small theatre company in Chicago, got permission to put on Bob Glaudini's comedy Jack Goes Boating. Unfortunately, the contract with the Samuel French Agency contained a stipulation prohibiting the theatre from inviting the press to review it.

Kris Vire, from Time Out Chicago and the Storefront Rebellion blog, contacted the French Agency. "A rep explained that they agreed to allow a production on the no-reviews condition in hopes of securing a larger production later."

As a result, Vire says, the 35-seat theatre "is stuck with a production it can’t promote through traditional means, and no press clippings they can use when applying for grants."

Although, as some of the comments noted, the contract is between the French Agency and the theatre. There's nothing to prevent Vire, or anyone else, from buying a ticket and writing a review. Jack Goes Boating runs through April 4.

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