Seattle Show Runs Into Licensing Issues With Samuel French

News   Seattle Show Runs Into Licensing Issues With Samuel French
Samuel French Inc. is in the spotlight once again concerning the cease and desist of a Seattle production titled That'swhatshesaid. According to TheStranger, the show's creator was contacted by Bruce Lazarus, executive director at Samuel French, calling for immediate closure.

According to the publication, Erin Pike, who created and performs the solo work, was told that her use of copyrighted material from Joshua Harmon's Bad Jews in That'swhatshesaid was illegal. Samuel French sent a cease and desist letter and Lazarus left Pike a voicemail on the eve of her second show, Feb. 5.

Despite the legal warning, the show went ahead but without the previously included material from Harmon's play. Lazarus' voicemail was another addition to Pike's piece, playing over speakers before the commencement of That'swhatshesaid. Performances reportedly ran as planned, Feb. 4-7 at Gay City Arts Center.

As reported last week, Samuel French had placed certain restrictions on the Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company's production of American Buffalo. The move prompted disappointed outcry from the community, and the restrictions were later loosened thanks to an anonymous call to playwright David Mamet.

The publishing and licensing group was also at the center of a recent controversy concerning The Wooster Group's Los Angeles production of 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. Critics filed their reviews over the weekend despite the ban. Read more here.

In response to the various incidents, Lazarus provided with the following comments: "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."

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