As previously reported, the long-lived Chicago theatre announced that it would be closing its doors following the staging of Mamet's American Buffalo, ending its 30-year history. According to the Tribune, Samuel French Inc., the licensing agent for the play, told director Carlo Garcia that because Chicago was a restricted city, it could only allow the production with limited advertising and no reviews. Well-known plays are often restricted in prominent locations.
Thanks to an anonymous personal call to Mamet, explaining the unique nature of the theatre's final show, the restrictions were lifted. The show, which began performances Jan. 28, will forge ahead with its scheduled Feb. 5 press opening.
Bruce Lazarus, executive director at Samuel French, provided Playbill.com with the following comments in response to the American Buffalo news: "As the licensing agent for playwrights, composers and lyricists Samuel French often finds itself in the unenviable conflict of enforcing our playwright’s contractual and other legal rights and the producer’s wishes to present their work. A playwright by contract may impose restrictions on those who seek a license contract to present their work including a restriction not to advertise, issue press releases, invite the press or provide free tickets. The playwright nor a producer can compel or prohibit the press from purchasing a ticket, attending a performance or publishing a review. Samuel French stands for our clients’ legal contractual rights and freedom of the press which we believe are not mutually exclusive."
The incident brings to light the recent controversy surrounding the The Wooster Group's Los Angeles production of Harold Pinter's The Room, which began Feb. 4. As previously reported, Samuel French, Inc., representing the wishes of the Harold Pinter estate, placed a restriction on all press reviews for show, citing that the company had failed to secure a contract before announcing the production to the press.
Despite restrictions still being in place, The Room is scheduled to run through Feb. 14. The Wooster Group was also informed that it did not have permission for a planned return engagement in New York or subsequent Paris run. The Pinter work made its New York debut in October last year without the restrictions. Read More: Critics Banned from Reviewing Wooster Group's Pinter Production