Nice little community theater you got here

What bullshit is this?!

From Massachusetts to Utah, small community theater productions of To Kill a Mockingbird are being shut down under threat of a lawsuit by the producer of the new Broadway production.

It doesn’t matter that the new version, penned by Aaron Sorkin, is completely different from the Christopher Sergel play that’s been performed by high school students and community theater actors for decades. Nor does it matter that the community theaters paid a licensing fee of at least $100 per performance to the Dramatic Publishing Company, which owns the rights to the earlier version of the play.

What matters, lawyers for Broadway producer Scott Rudin say, is that according to the contract between Dramatic and the Harper Lee estate, most amateur performances can’t proceed now that a new version of the story is on Broadway.

That 1969 contract, according to The Times, blocks Mockingbird performances within 25 miles of cities that had a population of 150,000 or more in 1960 while a “first-class dramatic play” based on the book is playing in New York or on tour.

Gee. Are people allowed to read the novel within 25 miles of cities that had a population of 150,000 or more in 1960? Are enforcers with To Kill a Mockingbird-radar combing the environs of every sizable city in the country even as we speak?

It’s not just community theaters in the U.S. that have been forced to shut down their productions. Last month a touring version of the Sergel play, set to run in the U.K. and Ireland, was canceled after being faced with legal threats.

Rudin “made it clear” that his company “would commence legal proceedings against the tour’s producer, originating theatre and all venues where it was due to be presented if the tour were not cancelled with immediate effect,” the tour’s producers said in a statement, according to Playbill.

The show must go on! Unless it’s competition.

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