The Indigo Productions presentation, which began performances March 3 at the Bernie West Theatre, was told to close immediately by representatives of the playwright. Samuel French — the company which licenses the rights to the work — notified the production that the rights would be revoked if the staging had cast women in the lead roles.
"We paid for the rights to present this play in August 2003, and in all the months leading up to the production it was never communicated to me that we could not change the genders of the lead characters," Indigo producer Thomas Hays said in a statement. "That was simply not presented as a condition of production." Hays and Indigo Productions are currently considering their options.
The production cast Marlene Wallace (Lee) opposite Sarah Jackson (Austin) as two sisters — as opposed to the two brothers that are written in the text. In the show's notes, it is revealed that the non-traditional casting was the brainchild of the two actresses.
The female True West — which goes by the shorthand "Chick True West" (www.chicktruewest.com) — is slated to run March 3-21 at the Bernie West Theatre located in Baruch College. Charlie Moss and Mary Ann Sarno were traditionally cast in the show's other roles of producer Saul and the leads' mother, respectively. Thomas G. Waites directed.
Shepard is currently in Australia filming a movie, according to the playwright-actor's agent, Judy Boals. The playwright's representative came across the production by way of a postcard that was advertising the production. The ads boast "You've seen the brothers, now see the sisters" along with a quote cited from "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" actor Vincent D'Onofrio, reading "These women are AMAZING. This show is not to be missed."