Playwright Abruptly Cancels Jan. 29 Addictions Benefit

News   Playwright Abruptly Cancels Jan. 29 Addictions Benefit Playwright Tricia Walsh-Smith, whose The Last Journey was presented Jan. 22 at the Westport Country Playhouse, stands firm in her beliefs.
Playwright Tricia Walsh-Smith
Playwright Tricia Walsh-Smith Photo by Aubrey Reuben

When Walsh-Smith discovered that Smirnoff vodka had underwritten the Jan. 29 benefit reading of her play Addictions — which chronicles the effects of drug and alcohol abuse on three women — the playwright quickly canceled the performance at Los Angeles' Kirk Douglas Theatre. It was only when she saw a promotional flyer for the evening that Walsh-Smith discovered that the Actors' Fund of America — the evening's beneficiary — had recruited the famed vodka company to sponsor the one-night-only event.

"I was absolutely stunned," Walsh told the New York Post. "I couldn't believe it. The idea of having Smirnoff sponsoring this play, which is about addiction — what were they thinking? . . . If we had gone ahead, I would have been looked at as a total hypocrite."

The evening — dedicated to the memory of Walsh-Smith's late brother Kevin, who was a long-time alcohol addict — was to have benefited the Chemical Dependency Program of the Actors' Fund. The reading was scheduled to feature the talents of Denise Van Outen, Christopher Biggins and Alice Ripley.

The Actors' Fund released this statement regarding the cancellation: "We regret the misunderstanding with Tricia. We appreciate all of her efforts on our planned production of Addictions and look forward to working with her again in the future."

The reading of Addictions will be rescheduled.

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An April 3, 2006, reading of Addictions — featuring Martha Plimpton, Chris Sarandon, Trudie Styler, Jackie Hoffman, Peter Bartlett and Jessica Hecht — raised $170,000 for Caron Treatment Centers, a leader in the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction.

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