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.
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.