In response to this on Me and Richard, in which Servetus points out obstacles against a DVD or transfer of The Old Vic’s production of The Crucible, I have this to add.
The link in the blog was to a New York Post piece( something akin to the Daily Fail, but this was a serious article) about Arthur Miller’s daughter, Rebecca, who is the owner of the rights to Miller’s body of work, and as such, has the final say as to whether or not a production company can mount any of his plays. (Think the ownership maze that affected production of The Hobbit because of negotiations with the Tolkien family.)
In the article, Ms.Miller explains that she is selective about licensing rights to her father’s work.
“Unless there is a compelling reason to say yes, my basic attitude is to say no,” Rebecca Miller says, summing up her approach to her father’s literary estate.
Speaking from her home in Connecticut, the 49-year-old says, “I want the plays to remain special and be framed in such a way that they don’t become Monet placemats. My father wasn’t smug about his future life as an author. He realized that nobody knows what will happen to their work. What might seem inevitable is not. Even the most popular writers fall out of favor. So you need to care for the plays.
First, we don’t know whether the license given to The Old Vic is limited to the specific production running from June-September with that particular cast in that particular place, or, does the license extend to any circumstance in which the Old Vic wants to mount the production, whether at The Old Vic or elsewhere.
What may be true is that no producer in New York has anagreement for “first look rights” to take the play to New York. See this New York Times Article which explains a little about the mechanics of taking plays from London to Broadway.
Under Kevin Spacey’s leadership The Old Vic instituted programs to transfer works across the pond through its New Vic program (from 2003)
At the Old Vic, meanwhile, another approach is in the works: incoming artistic director Kevin Spacey aims to move productions to and fro across the pond through Old Vic New Voices, a program involving the Atlantic Theatre Company, the Vineyard Theatre, Primary Stages, and the New Group.
In addition, The Old Vic has entered into an agreement with a New York Times venture, Times Video , a video channel hub, right on the web , to stream The Old Vic’s production of Clarence Darrow, which just ended its run.
Back to Rebecca Miller, we do know that at least this year, Rebecca Miller has licensed three Miller plays for the London season, A View from the Bridge, All My Sons and The Crucible. The Post article itself was written as a promotional piece supporting the revival of Death of a Salesman with Philip Seymour Hoffman in 2012. The fact is that Miller’s plays are done very often in major venues, so Rebecca Miller isn’t as restrictive as she sounds. We just don’ know how many hair-brained ideas for production she may have vetoed, or what venues or production companies she might have felt were unworthy.
Finally, we don’t know ( but I would sure like to find out) what Rebecca Miller thinks of the Old Vic’s version of The Crucible. I wonder whether she wouldn’t find a soul mate in Yaēl Farber, but even if not, based on the reception The Crucible received, and her two comments, one that she doesn’t want his play to became Monet placemats and second that “you need to care for the plays,” makes me think that she would not be adverse to making this version of the play available to as many viewers as possible. In other words, her fears and her reasons for her selectivity just don’t apply to this version. She wants special. This s special.
I do think that if the play were to be restaged on Broadway or elsewhere, there is no guarantee that the cast would travel intact with the play. So it is certainly a possibility that Richard Armitage would not play John Proctor. On the other hand, when plays do move from London to New York, it doesn’t happen immediately following the London run. Sometimes it’s as long as a year or more later. So there is just as equal a possibility that if the decision is made to try and keep all or part of the same cast, scheduling , for a limited run, will be taken into account.
But for my money, I’m pulling for some sort of streaming – only because I think it’s more likely, there’s now precedent with The Old Vic and it’s become a very popular and lucrative vehicle.
So yes – keep tweeting, emailing and taking all other steps to let The Old Vic know how much interest there is. Now – with the Old Vic surely knowing that the interest likely stretches way further than the Richard Armitage fandom, there is even more chance of success.
And it wouldn’t hurt to drop the New York Times a line either and mention The Crucible for Times Video. After all, there is already a business relationship. You can write to customer service here or try tweeting them @nytsupport. I haven’t found a direct route to Times Video yet, but I’m working on it.
The New York Times hasn’t met the Armitage juggernaut yet.