The producer of the current Broadway rendition of To Kill a Mockingbird has offered a compromise to the theater companies hit with legal action over their productions of a previous adaptation of the Harper Lee novel.
Small-town and collegiate theater productions of Christopher Sergel’s To Kill a Mockingbird play were recently sent cease-and-desist letters due to a licensing agreement between the Lee estate and Scott Rudin, who produced the Aaron Sorkin-penned Broadway version.
The attempts to stymie way-way-off-Broadway productions of the source material was met with so much backlash – and the #BoycottRudinPlays hashtag on social media – that Rudin has offered a compromise: The theater companies can still stage their Kill a Mockingbird productions, but they must use the Sorkin script.
“We have been hard at work creating what I hope might be a solution for those theater companies that have been affected by this unfortunate set of circumstances, in which rights that were not available to them were licensed to them by a third party who did not have the right to do so,” Rudin said in a statement.
“In an effort to ameliorate the hurt caused here, we are offering each of these companies the right to perform our version of To Kill a Mockingbird, Aaron Sorkin’s play, currently running on Broadway. For these theaters, this is the version that can be offered to them, in concert with our agreement with Harper Lee.”
Fourteen productions of the Sergel version of the play are either in production or currently being staged, including in cities like Buffalo, New York, Dayton, Ohio and Salt Lake City, Utah; the latter production was recently canceled. All of the Sergel productions were licensed through Dramatic Publishing, although Rudin and the Lee estate have argued they were not permitted to license the work.
“I think it’s a good save from something that was, honestly, not the fault of the people who licensed it and not the fault of the people who owned the rights — which people are us — but I think ultimately for those who still can do it it’s a good solution,” Rudin added. “Everything that they licensed, we’ll stand behind with ours.”