Let The Artists Direct The Shows They Want

Let The Artists Direct The Shows They Want

Even the theatre is being censored


Imagine this:

You are a director at a regional theatre. You have been given the rights to do Arthur Miller's "The Crucible". You, as the director, decided to cast a mostly Muslim cast, because you feel the communist witch hunt is out dated and you want to update it to play to the Islamaphobia that America feels at this moment. You have plans to take this to Broadway, then hopefully to London. You are at your tech week when you get a letter from Miller's estate saying that you are to shut down your show. The reason being, it was not the original vison of Miller wanted and it supposed to be a mainly white cast. All the money you spent is now gone.

This is what The Wooster Group went through when they wanted to do Harold Pinter's "The Room". The company that own the rights to "The Room", Samuel French, gave the Wooster Group the right to do it and eventually shut it down. The Wooster Group lost a lot of money as they were planing to move this play to New York and France.

Well, why can Broadway can get away with an idea like this, but a smaller theatre group couldn't do this also?

The reason Broadway could get away with something like the idea of a mostly Muslim cast of "The Crucible" is money. If the producers like the idea of the show and think it will make a lot of money, they will invests thousands to millions of dollars into the production. The producers, directors, and the people that own the rights to the play and/or musical can work together to bring the idea the director has to life, even if it is a massive failure.

So if a director likes the version of "The Crucible" that they saw on Broadway, they have to do it in the way Arthur Miller intended. It's copyrighted by the director that they can't do that exact version. That's the reason why amateur theaters cannot do the version of "Cabaret" that they did in 1998, it's copyrighted by the owner of the musical and the director's version (which is another topic for a different day). However, they can do the version of "Cabaret" done on Broadway in 1966.

While Broadway can get away wth the version of a show they want to, there are some playwrights who won't let directors do what they want with the source material.

Samuel Beckett, famous for writing "Waiting for Godot", will allow his version of his play to be produced. Beckett's estate would not allow different versions of the set, text, and imagery has to be the way he had it. So there can be no female version of "Waiting for Godot", you can't change the scenery and the setting of the play. Everything has to be the same. This gives even Broadway producers little freedom to do whatever they want, even though Beckett is dead.

So should amateur theaters have the rights to do the versions of the plays and/or musicals they want? Yes.

If someone likes to do the recent revival of "Fiddler on the Roof", they should, because a version of a show should be copy-written. The director may do a "cover version" of a show and they should be allowed to do so. If someone wants to do a crazy version of an Arthur Miller show, they should. He's been dead for years.

So please, copyright owners, let the directors do a version of the show they want. Don't let the theatre, even the smaller ones, go dark ever.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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