See Why a Playwright Urged Audiences to Boycott His Own Play

News   See Why a Playwright Urged Audiences to Boycott His Own Play
Performances of Ghost Light, a 30-minute series of monologues by Tommy Smith, have been canceled at the Echo Theatre Company in Atwater, CA, after the playwright urged audiences to boycott the production.

Smith, according to Culture Monster, claims that a contract between him and the California venue, which has previously produced his plays Fugue and Firemen, had never been finalized. In an email the playwright sent to members of the press and his colleagues, he said, "I literally have had my play stolen from me."

The Echo refutes the claim, saying it does have a signed contract with Smith, who was paid for 12 performances. A few performances went on before the play was withdrawn.

The controversy had escalated when the playwright objected to changes in both the text and title. Smith claims that Chris Fields, artistic director of the Echo, sent a letter to the Gersh Agency, which represents the playwright, that stated Fields had complete authorial control over the short play, which was performed as an addendum to American Falls.

"It was around this time that my agent and I had a sobering conversation. We agreed that we could not grant them production rights to Ghost Light," Smith said, adding that the company produced the play anyway.

Because "this is a community art, built only on the goodwill between artists," Smith said he does not plan to launch a lawsuit. Ghost Light, according to production notes, is described as such: "In Tommy Smith’s poignant, poetic 30-minute rumination on love and loss, innocence and age, a lone woman materializes on the set of an unrelated play, illuminated only by the ghost light. Written to be performed immediately following the performance of another show on that show’s set, using the energy of the previous performance to fuel its own themes, Ghost Light will immediately follow three performances of Echo Theater Company’s currently running, critically acclaimed West Coast premiere of American Falls by Miki Johnson. Come for the main course. Stay for dessert." Deborah Puette starred in the performances of Ghost Light that had been offered.

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