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3C Or Not 3C?

07.17.12 | 5 Comments


CATEGORIES #2amt, advocacy, journalism, playwrights, rabble rousing, social media

This afternoon, the New York Times ran a story by Patrick Healy about the producers of Three’s Company & their reaction to 3C, a play by David Adjmi. At issue is the question of copyright and intellectual property, fair use vs. parody and/or transformative, derivative work.

Healy cites productions such as Dog Sees God and the recent Mr. Burns at Woolly Mammoth, both using clearly recognizable iconography and tropes to tell new stories informed by–but not imitating or negating–the original works. 3C is squarely in this style, using a similar situation–the lifeblood of a situation comedy–and visual cues such as the set, but telling a story that reflects and explodes the sitcom’s premise. It brings reality into the mix to illustrate the differences between fiction and reality, farce and tragedy.

3C is “CLEARLY NOT THE SITCOM. You can quote me on that,” noted playwright Callie Kimball. “It was fucking fantastic.” She’s not alone. Critic Peter Marks noted on Twitter that the “play’s better than the sitcom.” Judging from the reviews on StageGrade, critical reaction was mixed, but either way, no one was mistaking this for an actual episode of Three’s Company. “Tragicomedy” is not a word often associated with the sitcom.

Now, the producers of the sitcom want to shut down the play and make sure it’s never performed again.

UPDATE: Read Jon Robin Baitz’s open letter and sign on to support Adjmi and 3C.

We took the pulse of Twitter after the story broke, and here’s what people were saying, both on and off the #2amt stream. Among those reactions, you’ll find someone currently performing a show at the Capital Fringe in D.C. who’s suddenly worried about his production as well.

Special thanks to Isaac Butler.

David J. Loehr

Artistic Director / Editor, 2amt ::Artist-in-Residence / Producer, Riverrun Theatre Company, Madison, Indiana::Member of the Playwrights' Center::Husband, father, cat owner, cat bed.

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  • Callie

    Haha I believe the exact quote was “CLEARLY NOT THE SITCOM. You can quote me on that.” It’s called ALL CAPS, Loehr. 

    • http://www.davidjloehr.com/ David J. Loehr

      What am I, Bedard?  

      (fixing now)(the all caps, that is, not the me-as-Bedard)

      (hides in closet wearing woman’s robe)

      (or would if I weren’t afraid I’d be sued, since that’s clearly the plot of 65% of the episodes of said sitcom)

      (cause they invented sex farce, after all)

      • Callie

        Haha I was totally kidding. But srsly the quote is much better with the all caps. ;-)

        I mean really. I don’t recall any episode where cocaine was mistaken for a penis going in a girl’s nostril.

        • http://www.davidjloehr.com/ David J. Loehr

          Pretty sure that was the second episode of “Three’s A Crowd.”  Poor Robert Mandan.

  • http://twitter.com/LeeLiebeskind Lee Liebeskind

    Don’t quote me on this (haha Callie), but I had heard that a number of Woolly staff were kinda scared about how the writer of that Simpson’s episode would feel about the play.  The possibility of him suing the theatre or them having to shut the play down was a very real possibility.  Fair use laws are so new and so clearly undefined that its still being judged on case by case basis and its still really up to the judge to make decisions since no real precedent or rules have been set.

    Thank goodness the writer for the Simpson’s was cool (who would have guessed, haha) and he saw the play and loved it.  Even signed a transcript of the episode for the staff.


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