The Wicked Stage on Vibratorgate at the Playhouse
So, some thoughts:
As I suspected, the Cellar did not seek permission to change the script. When I discussed Vibrator-gate with some of my non-theater-savvy friends, they were surprised to discover that licensing agreements generally preclude any alterations to the script, even a single word or setting. Indeed, Samuel French’s licensing agreement states: “The play will be presented as it appears in published form and the author’s intent will be respected in production. No changes, interpolations, or deletions in the text, lyrics, music, title or gender of the characters shall be made for the purpose of production.” This might seem draconian and legalistic, but in fact, such language protects playwrights from renegade productions—like the Playhouse’s—that misrepresent the author’s intention: after all, The Vibrator Play is not the Playhouse’s play. It’s Sarah Ruhl’s play; and if she wants to write about race, or magical realism, or boogers, or anything at all, that’s her prerogative. If the Playhouse didn’t want to produce her play as written, surely they had other plays to choose from, and better things to do.