Samuel French "Denies Permission to Review" Wooster Group Production of Pinter's "The Room" Opening at REDCAT
Well this is just bizarre. Take a look at this presser I received today and then I’ll get you on the back end so we can sort this thing out:
MEDIA ADVISORY REGARDING
THE WOOSTER GROUP’S THE ROOM BY HAROLD PINTER AT REDCAT
PERMISSION TO REVIEW THE PRODUCTION DENIED BY SAMUEL FRENCH, INC.CITING “OUTSIDE CIRCUMSTANCES.”
PERMISSION FOR FUTURE PERFORMANCES IN NEW YORK CITY AND PARIS CURRENTLY WITHHELD
REDCAT and The Wooster Group announce that Samuel French, Inc., which manages the United States rights for Harold Pinter’s work, restricts critics from reviewing the world premiere of the Group’s production of The Room at REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater) .
On January 11, 2016, Samuel French instructed the Group that all promotion and reviews of the production would be forbidden. The Group appealed this decision, and Samuel French subsequently lifted the restriction on promoting the production, but informed the Group that the restriction on reviews will remain in place. Samuel French’s licensing agreement states that “There may be absolutely No reviews of this production; e.g. newspaper, website posts etc.” The Group was also informed that they could not currently receive permission for future performances of the production being planned in New York City and Paris.
In an email to the Group, Samuel French Licensing Manager David Kimple did not give a specific reason for the sudden restrictions, only citing “outside circumstances.” Mr. Kimple wrote that “Mr. Pinter’s catalogue is, as you know, world famous; to keep this catalogue afloat, there are many moving pieces and the work of the estate is not limited to any one single person. There is an entire team of professionals who have committed to strategically planning and curating productions in a way that will help to carry this great work even further during today’s constantly changing theatrical landscape. We are elated and honored to have your company investing in a show like this but, unfortunately, outside circumstances require us to maintain this restriction.”
Mark Murphy, Executive Director of REDCAT, called the restrictions “highly unusual and puzzling,” adding that, “This attempt to restrict critical discussion of such an important production in print and online is deeply troubling, with the potential for severe financial impact. It seems strange to me that anyone would think critical discourse about this seminal play could be somehow harmful. And, it would be a shame if these ten performances in Los Angeles were the only chance for people to experience the production. I am proud that REDCAT is presenting the premiere of this production of a seminal play, performed by The Wooster Group, one of the world’s most influential and highly regarded theatrical ensembles. I am stunned that critics would be asked to withhold any commentary in the form of a review, or that it might never be performed again.”
Prior to premiering The Room at REDCAT, The Wooster Group presented the piece in sold-out advance showings at The Performing Garage, the Group’s home theater in New York City. These performances, which took place , were authorized by Samuel French without imposing any limits on press access.
First of all, I’m not even sure they can do this. I mean, they can certainly NOT invite any of the legit theater critics to the show and that would certainly curtail any coverage that might occur. But one of those critics could just then buy a ticket on their own, go anyway, and write whatever the hell they want about the show. How can Samuel French impede that in any way? And why only in Los Angeles? And why against the wishes of the artists producing the show? Are they afraid that Pinter’s 60 year old play will somehow be tarnished by bad press? Are they not happy with the Wooster Group’s alterations of the script? They already gave them permission to produce, so what the hell is going on?
They can certainly ASK the critics not to review the show, as a favor, I guess, but citing “outside circumstances” as the reason is vague, weak and completely absurd. As a matter of fact, the thing sounds completely unconstitutional. And guess what? I was already slated to go – it’s my birthday next Saturday – and though I wasn’t necessarily going to write anything about the show and since I’m NOT a theater critic, I am absolutely going to write about the show now. With vigor. Not a “review” of course, I don’t write those, but maybe I’ll be inspired to write a haiku, or an essay, or whatever the hell else I decide to write about it. Because that’s how it works in America, folks. As long as I’m not slandering or perpetrating lies, I can write about whatever the fuck I want to write about.
And here’s what I suggest to all the other LA Theater Critics out there: Tell Samuel French to go fuck themselves. Go to the show and write as you please. Let’s flood the LA Media outlets with writing about this show. And I’m talking to you Charles McNulty of the LA Times. And you Bill Raden of Stage Raw. And you Steven Leigh Morris of the LA Weekly and yes, even you, Steven Stanley of StageSceneLA. All of you, here is a chance to actually make a stand for what you do. They have no authority to stop you. None. As a matter of fact, let’s take it a step further. ANYONE who goes to the show should – as an act of defiance to this Orwellian bullshit – write something.
As a matter of fact, I am herby opening up Bitter Lemons for those “somethings”. Let’s not even call them “reviews” let’s call them, “creative responses”.
If you go see the show which runs February 4-14, 2016 at REDCAT, and if you find this type of suppression to be just plain wrong, send us your “creative responses” to the show to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will publish them here. Anyone. Doesn’t matter if you can write or if you can’t, doesn’t matter if you’re a credentialed critic or not, anyone and everyone is welcome to kick this door down and tell Samuel French to go fuck themselves.
Here are the details for showtimes and tickets:
Thurs Feb 4 – Sat Feb 6 at 8:30 pm
Sun Feb 7 at 3 pm
Tues Feb 9 – Sat Feb 13 at 8:30 pm
Sun Feb 14 at 3 pm
Oh, and you’re welcome for the free press. Whatever happens, people are now REALLY going to want to see the show that has been “forbidden” to critical thought. I’m happy to oblige.