Think a Play Needs Updating? Ask the Author First or Do Something Else

The words "cease-and-desist" have seeped into the theater world in the past few weeks, and I feel compelled to chime in not as a blogger but as a playwright.

The first legal action was filed against the Alchemist Theatre in Milwaukee over some gender bending. Alchemist was presenting David Mamet's play about power struggle among the sexes, Oleanna, but rather than casting the female lead as a she, the company cast a male to play a transgender woman.

Mamet, who is notoriously rigid with his writing, had his management company order the theater to close the doors on this production as they had not previously discussed the casting change. In fact, the whole thing appeared to be kept rather hush-hush, perhaps for dramatic effect or to utilize the "it's easier to beg for forgiveness than ask permission" mantra. That method doesn't always fly.

Almost simultaneously, Houston's own TUTS Underground, the smaller/less mainstream arm of Theatre Under the Stars, was also slapped with a cease-and-desist when they presented a disfigured version of the Tony-nominated musical Hands on a Hardbody.

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Abby Koenig
Contact: Abby Koenig