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Why Dozens of Small Community Theaters Across the U.S. Are Shutting Down Their Productions of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

Mar 1, 2019  •  Post A Comment

Dozens of small community and nonprofit theaters across the country are abandoning their productions of “To Kill a Mockingbird” because of a legal threat by Broadway and Hollywood producer Scott Rudin, the AP reports.

“Rudin is arguing that author Harper Lee signed over to him exclusive worldwide rights to the title of the novel and that Rudin’s current adaptation on Broadway — written by Aaron Sorkin — is the only version allowed to be performed,” the AP reports. “That means different adaptations have had to be scuttled in such small venues as the Grand Theatre in Salt Lake City; Mugford Street Players in Marblehead, Massachusetts; and the Kavinoky Theatre in Buffalo, New York, as well as a planned United Kingdom and Ireland tour.”

The companies had licensed the rights to a different version, which is written by Christopher Sergel and licensed by The Dramatic Publishing Company or DPC, the AP notes.

Rudin defended his position in a statement, saying: “We hate to ask anybody to cancel any production of a play anywhere, but the productions in question as licensed by DPC infringe on rights licensed to us by Harper Lee directly.

“The Sergel play can contractually continue to be performed under set guidelines as described in detail in its own agreement with Harper Lee — and as long as those guidelines are adhered to, we have no issue with the play having a long life.”

But Rudin’s stance has been met with calls for a boycott of his work.

“Anger over the move has triggered an online revolt using the rallying cry #BoycottRudinplays,” the AP reports. “Chris Peterson, founder of the OnStage Blog , wants ticket buyers to steer clear of all current and upcoming Rudin productions on Broadway, including ‘Hilary and Clinton,’ ‘Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus,’ ‘King Lear,’ ‘The Ferryman’ and ‘The Book of Mormon.’”

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