The Playgoer: Let's go back...

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Let's go back...

I had been hearing for a while that this whole story actually "broke" on an Alan Rickman fan site. Well now I have located the link. (Scroll down to "2/22/06 9:28am"), May not be new to everyone out there, but I found some things fascinating about this.

I'll sum up the main "headlines" out of this, before sharing the whole post:

1) The post is dated February 22. It describes Nicola confirming the cancellation the previous day, February 21, one full week before the story first publicly broke in the NYT.

2) The poster confirms the "Telecharge" part of the story (i.e. that it was up there), and provides links to screen-cap images. This one is particularly interesting because it describes plans for post-show discussions "following every performance" and "with a variety of artists, journalist, and cultural commentators." Hm. What to make of this. Obviously Nicola was true to his word about making plans for "contextualization" but seems to have been farther along than even he admitted. Is he saying he didn't have time to book anyone? Can you believe it's that hard to get "artists, journalists, and cultural commentators" to speak in public?

3) The poster, obviously, is a big Rickman fan, and so was calling the theatre every day for info on tickets, etc. He/she does encounter at first a little vagueness from NYTW on just how "definite" all the plans are. (This is mentioned as "last week," so mid-February.) But, as you'll see, the theatre clearly implies they expect the show to go on as scheduled.

4) Then, an "awkward conversation" on February 21 where the poster is told the play has been "indefinitely postponed". That's "indefinitely." The poster then emails Jim Nicola himself, who does write back saying, ""We have postponed the production indefinitely," and , "I think it is unlikely for a NY production in the next few months." Remember this seems to have been his first public comment, even if to one individual. I leave it to you to square that with his statements since.

Ok, here's the whole post, only slightly copy edits and trimmed for relevance. (But again the raw text is here (under "2/22/06 at 09:28 am"). Keep in mind the context that this is addressed to fellow fans of Alan Rickman. Also, I'm inclined to trust the accuracy of the direct quotations, since this being written the very next morning.

...Over the past three weeks [Feb 1-21? -Playgoer] I have been in contact with the New York Theater Workshop. I had established contact with them via email, and throughout those conversations they had indicated that nothing was 'definite', but that announcement was to be forthcoming this week. I had also been calling them once per week just as a double check, and each time I called, they said nothing was 'definite', but early last week they gave a strong indication that an 'announcement' was coming late last week, or this week.
[...]
NYTW sells their tickets via Telecharge, so I was also checking the Telecharge site on a daily basis. Yesterday, I was elated to find that a full listing for MNiRC, with preview and play run dates, ticket information, as well as info on post-talk discussions with post-performance discussions after every show, (woot!) featuring a variety of artists, journalists, and cultural commentators (details were not provided). I then called New York Theater Workshop to inquire about these post-talk discussions and to discuss the best method for obtaining tickets.

To my surprise, they indicated that they had indefinitely postponed the production, and that the information should not have appeared on Telecharge. Needless to say it was an awkward conversation and the gentleman on the phone sounded somewhat flabbergasted. When I tried to press him a bit more, the phone person indicated it would probably be a year or more before the production would be reconsidered.
At that point, I emailed my contact (who is the Artistic Director), seeking a definitive answer and any explanation that could be provided. His response was, "We have
postponed the production indefinitely. We were unable to make it happen in the very tight time frame that emerged. It may be reappearing in London."
I thanked him for the info, and asked if he knew if the play was in
discussion with any other theaters in NYC, or if things were a lost cause at
this point. His response was as follows, "I really donĂ‚’t know. I think it is unlikely for a NY production in the next few months. London seems more possible."

Needless to say I was extremely disappointed, as I'm sure many of you are. Again, maybe some miracle will occur, but I am just reporting to you the information, which seems pretty credible to me at this point. Realizing the situation, in the midst of things yesterday I did screencap all of the pages from Telecharge, for posterity sake, I guess. The information was removed from Telecharge yesterday, within a few hours of my initial conversation with them. You can view them here:
http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c364/catsplay/mnirc1.jpg
http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c364/catsplay/mnirc2.jpg
http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c364/catsplay/mnirc3.jpg
http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c364/catsplay/mnirc4.jpg

[...]

The frustrating thing is that it was obviously SO CLOSE (info posted and
ready to go on Telecharge, etc). Timing (OOTP?). Political?
It's such a shame.

2 comments:

Shrill Bill said...

So NYTW uses the word "indefinitely." And it appears the "contextualization" had already been scheduled. Which means this appears more than ever to be what Harold Pinter calls it: "self-censorship."

It also is interesting that Nicola seems to leave open the possibility to the Rickman person that the play might find a different New York home. This makes his insistence that NYTW asked for a "simple delay" seem like a flat-out lie. If he'd wanted a simple delay, why didn't he ask for one? Why did he tell the Royal Court it was "indefinitely postponed?"

The simplest answer is, he was artfully cancelling the show and never planned to do it again. Which makes his protests to the contrary once the story hit all the more appalling.

Think what David Hare could do with Nicola's conflicting statements alone. "Stuff Happens 2."

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of Slavoj Zizek's return to Freud to explain the conflicting rationales of the Iraq war:

"We all remember the old joke about the borrowed kettle which Freud quotes in order to render the strange logic of dreams, namely the enumeration of mutually exclusive answers to a reproach (that I returned to a friend a broken kettle): (1) I never borrowed a kettle from you; (2) I returned it to you unbroken; (3) the kettle was already broken when I got it from you. For Freud, such an enumeration of inconsistent arguments of course confirms per negationem what it endeavors to deny - that I returned you a broken kettle..."