Thursday, August 23, 2012

PERFORMANCE RIGHTS TO THIRTY-FOUR YEAR OLD PLAY REVOKED DUE TO MOMENT OF "BRIEF NUDITY"

From a press release issued by The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center:
Due to a last-minute revocation of performance rights, the much acclaimed, ‘Ovation Recommended’ production of Ira Levin’s classic comedy-thriller Deathtrap will be unable to return to the Davidson/Valentini Theatre at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center in September as previously announced. [...]
Due to the original engagement’s runaway success, the Center planned to remount the production, but the Estate of Ira Levin that controls the performance rights abruptly revoked them, citing a brief moment of onstage nudity.
Note:  Rights were revoked by the Estate of Ira Levin, not the playwright who actually wrote about two characters in a "full-blown affair," as the press release puts it.

God forbid modern theatre artists breathe new life into an old chestnut.  And by "God" I mean whoever currently holds Ira Levin's intellectual property rights (apparently the only intellectual thing they possess.)

Full press release follows:

L.A. GAY & LESBIAN CENTER’S ACCLAIMED PRODUCTION

OF IRA LEVIN’S “DEATHTRAP”

WILL NOT RETURN IN SEPTEMBER

DUE TO PERFORMANCE RIGHTS BEING REVOKED

Due to a last-minute revocation of performance rights, the much acclaimed, ‘Ovation Recommended’ production of Ira Levin’s classic comedy-thriller Deathtrap will be unable to return to the Davidson/Valentini Theatre at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center in September as previously announced. Net proceeds would have benefitted the entire array of the Center’s free and low-cost programs and services.

Directed by eight-time Ovation Award-winner Ken Sawyer, the Center’s production of Deathtrap enjoyed a ten week sold-out run in the spring of this year. Due to the original engagement’s runaway success, the Center planned to remount the production, but the Estate of Ira Levin that controls the performance rights abruptly revoked them, citing a brief moment of onstage nudity.

Following an impassioned appeal by the Center, rights were once again granted, but this time with very strict guidelines prohibiting any onstage behavior that portrayed the two lead male characters having a physical relationship—this despite the fact that in the play the characters are involved in a full-blown affair.

Deathtrap’s famously complex script provides genuine, edge-of-your-seat thrills, and is known for the jolts and surprises that occur along the way. The Center has decided that re-mounting the show with the imposed restrictions would force the play’s central relationship back into the closet, thus compelling the Center to compromise both its mission and its integrity. It would also result in a very different and less effective production than the one audiences had been lining up to see. Therefore the Center has been forced to cancel.

The entire original cast was set to return. They are (in alphabetical order) Brian Foyster, Cynthia Gravinese, Burt Grinstead, Elizabeth Herron, Carl J. Johnson, and Stephen Mendillo. The design team included Joel Daavid (set), Luke Moyer (lighting), Paula Higgins (costumes), and Ken Sawyer (sound). Deathtrap was produced by Jon Imparato, artistic director of the Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center.

Patrons who had already purchased tickets for the extension will receive full refunds. The Center’s box office personnel is in the process of contacting all ticket buyers. The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center is located at The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, 1125 N. McCadden Place (one block east of Highland, just north of Santa Monica Boulevard), in Hollywood.

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