Erin Pike Receives Cease & Desist Order for Show Using Only Women's Roles from Popular American Plays
Erin Pike is personally taking steps to solve the gender parity issue in theatre, but her efforts were almost completely thwarted this weekend.
Written by Courtney Meaker and performed by Erin Pike, this collage show, THAT'SWHATSHESAID, consists of only lines and stage directions for female characters in the ten most-produced plays in America. The Stranger's Rick Smith describes the show as a commentary on how misogyny rules even the liberal theatre world. In Act I, she embodies the conflicting, often one-dimensional stereotypes written by male playwrights, and in Act II, she does the same thing, except with plays written by women.
The day of the show, however, Pike received a Cease and Desist order from the publishing company Samuel French, which published one of the shows from which she uses excerpts. Sent an hour before THAT'SWHATSHESAID was scheduled to open at the Gay City Calamus Auditorium, the order claims that her use of content from BAD JEWS violates copyright laws. The content used from BAD JEWS includes describing and acting out stage directions and using at least one line of dialogue from the show as well.
She had previously performed a shorter version of THAT'SWHATSHESAID in Portland and Minneapolis but this is the first time it received a Cease and Desist order.
Left with a difficult decision- continue with the show whose message Pike ardently believes in and risk a lawsuit with one of the most prominent play publishing companies, or comply? Smith details that Pike had a plan. In the end, Pike still performed her show on Thursday night, but in doing so, she cut out the materials against which Samuel French had objected. THAT'SWHATSHESAID runs through this evening.
Meaker took to Twitter to comment on the issue, defending the show saying it is always good for plays to be critiqued as her devised piece does. Last night, she wrote, "New realities: team #twss is gonna have some lawyer talk this evening. Thanks to everyone who has sent recs or offered help. We love you."