Friday, May 21, 2010

The Plot Thickens At Next

On the heels of the announcement that Jason Southerland is leaving Next Theatre comes this article in PerformInk. You should really read the whole thing, but here is the condensed version:

After the company's plans to produce Boaz Gaon's adaptation of Ghassan Kanafani's novel The Return to Haifa fell through, Next hired local playwright M. E. H. (Margaret) Lewis to write a new adaptation, only 3 months before the scheduled opening. (It's unclear from the article whether they had the rights to do that.) Late in the rehearsal process, he altered Lewis' script, adding in passages from Gaon's adaptation, without her knowledge, and without permission from or attribution to Gaon. She removed most of them, but some stayed in the show. Gaon found out and threatened suit against Southerland and Next, and the settlement will involve a press release taking responsiblity (which exonerates Lewis without quite saying that Southerland was responsible) and an agreement that Lewis' adaptation can never be produced again.

This is a shame. Margaret is a colleague of mine through Stage Left Theatre, and she is a scrupulously honest person. (She's also a fantastic playwright.) Return to Haifa was produced to great critical success and sold out houses, and it seems like it would have had a very strong chance of getting produced elsewhere. The fact that her work and reputation were damaged because of Southerland's actions is terrible. Hopefully things will only improve from here.

1 comment:

Monica Reida said...

When I adapted Neil Gaiman's book The Wolves in the Walls, I had to sign a contract that detailed everything I had to do with billing, performances that was sent back to his agent. I had to sign it because I was the adapter. Either Margaret or Next Theatre should have a copy of a contract saying that they had the rights to adapt the novel.

Regardless, this is terrible for Margaret.