The planned UK and Ireland tour of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird has been cancelled following an exclusivity claim brought by the producers of the current Broadway production.
Previously announced on 16 July, 2018, has been forced to cancel, the touring production – produced by Jonathan Church Productions, Curve Theatre, Leicester and Regent’s Park Theatre Ope Air Theatre – was due to open at Curve on 7 February 2019 before visiting 15 locations across the UK and Ireland until 8 June.
A press release states that the producers claims that Jonathan Church Productions was granted the rights to the Christopher Sergel adaptation of the novel by Dramatic Publishing Company [the Broadway production uses an adaptation by Aaron Sorkin].
However, on 11 January 2019, lawyers acting for Atticus Limited Liability Company, the company formed by producer Scott Rudin for the current Broadway production of To Kill a Mockingbird, contacted Jonathan Church Productions, Curve, Regent’s Park Theatre and all the venues due to receive the production, claiming worldwide exclusivity in the professional stage rights to the piece.
According to the UK and Ireland producers: “This statement conflicts with the licence issued by Dramatic Publishing Company. It also seems to be at odds with the fact that many professional productions of the Sergel adaptation have been staged in the UK previously under what are understood to be similar licences from Dramatic Publishing Company, including those produced by the Touring Consortium Theatre Company (2011), Royal Exchange, Manchester (2013), Regent’s Park Theatre (2013), and Octagon Theatre, Bolton (2016).
“It appears there may be a difference of opinion as to exactly what rights were originally conferred to Dramatic Publishing Company in 1969 by the Harper Lee Estate. Nevertheless, despite those involved in the UK tour having acted in good faith at all times, Atticus Limited Liability Company made it clear that they 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. Atticus Limited Liability Company were unwilling to consider any compromises which were proposed to resolve the situation without lengthy and costly legal action.”
Jonathan Church Productions, Curve and Regent’s Park Theatre said they were “deeply saddened” to have been forced into the position of disappointing audiences across the UK and Ireland, and added: “We would like to thank all those who have already purchased tickets, and those currently working to re-create the show which had been in rehearsals until today.
“We are truly sorry for the inconvenience this cancellation will cause and ask that ticketholders contact their original sales point to arrange full refunds.”