Alchemist's Oleanna Receives Cease and Desist Over Gender Bending Casting
21 Jun 2014
Milwaukee's Alchemist Theatre was forced to cancel their production of David Mamet's Oleanna after one performance due to a cease and desist letter from Mamet's representatives over casting a male actor in the lead female role.
Mamet and his representation are very protective of his work – this is not the first time a cease and desist has been demanded in regards to performances.
In the case of Alchemist's Oleanna, it seems the artistic team knew that casting a male actor in the lead role would create a stir, keeping it under wraps until after the first performance; Mamet's representatives issued the cease and desist on Friday after online reviews revealing the casting choice appeared online.
The owners of Alchemist Theatre said in a statement, "We stayed true to each of David Mamet's powerful words and did not change the character of Carol but allowed the reality of gender and relationship fluidity to add to the impact of the story. We are so very proud of the result."
Oleanna is the story of a female student charges her male professor with sexual harassment. The play examines explosive contemporary issues — the assumption of power, intellectual freedom and sexual politics. The play premiered in Boston in 1992, but was seen most recently on Broadway in 2009 starring Julia Stiles and Bill Pullman in a production directed by Doug Hughes.
Holed up in a seedy motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert, two former lovers unpack the deep secrets and dark desires of their tangled relationship, passionately tearing each other apart. Led by director Daniel Aukin (Back Back Back at MTC, 4,000 Miles), Tony winner Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur at MTC, Born Yesterday) and Sam Rockwell (A Behanding in Spokane, The Way Way Back) bring an explosive intensity to Sam Shepard’s (Buried Child, True West) landmark myth of the new Wild West.