Off Off-Broadway The Playing Company production of Carlos Murillo's Dark Play or Stories for Boys, which had been scheduled to run September 3-17 at the Davenport Theatre, was canceled after the company failed to obtain proper permission from the author or the publisher, The Dramatists Play Service (DPS).
The action came after several days of back-and-forth between the Playing Company and the author. DPS finally sent a cease-and-desist order to Playing Company, which led to the cancellation.
Murillo told Playbill.com that The Playing Company had not sought permission to produce his play in Manhattan.
Craig Pospisil, Director of Nonprofessional Licensing at the Dramatists Play Service told Playbill.com in an email, ”Neither Wendy Payne or the Playing Company have permission to produce Dark Play or Stories for Boys, here in Manhattan in September. They had requested and received permission to produce the play in Long Island City, and I believe those performances recently concluded. Over this past weekend, Ms. Payne applied for permission to produce the play again, but she used a Massachusetts address and gave no indication of plans to perform the play in New York City, as she had done with her original Long Island City request. When Mr. Murillo and I discovered that they intended to do the play here in Manhattan, I was obliged to inform them that the rights were not available here and that the license agreement they received was only valid in Nahant, Massachusetts, per their application.”
He added, “I’m sorry for any hardship this causes Ms. Payne and the company, as I imagine they’re new to obtaining licensing rights for play production, especially here in the city. But I’m afraid they simply do not have permission to produce Dark Play or Stories for Boys, in the city at this time.”
The production was subsequently canceled.
Murillo said, “I’ve spent the last 15 years teaching young artists at The Theatre School of DePaul University in Chicago—I know and love the passion they bring to the work, so I feel terribly for the young actors and designers who've worked on this production only to have it shut down. I fault the producers for not doing their due diligence to apply for the rights before renting a theatre, hiring a publicist and throwing up a website. All of this mess could have been avoided, and hopefully folks learn from this: if you love a play and want to do it, get the rights before you do anything else.”
Directed by Holly Payne-Strange, the cast was to have included Cesar Brandi (Rosetta's Blues/Cannes Film Festival), Lindsay Bristol (Lone Star Rep), Thomas Burns Scully (The Boy Under the Piano, BAFTA nominee On the Spot), Anna Fikhman (Broccoli) and Harrison Santana (In Mysterious Ways).
“During a college sexual encounter, the girl in Nick's bed wants to know why his abdomen is covered with scars,” according to press notes. “Does Nick tell the truth, or does he weave an elaborate tale? The play explores the intoxicating pleasure of inventing fake personas in chat rooms on the internet. Dark Play examines what happens when the real world and the virtual world collide.”
After several workshops and readings, the play received its world premiere at the 2007 Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville and has subsequently been produced around the country. Murillo is also the author of A Human Interest Story (or the Gory Details and All).