An agreement was reached late yesterday between Nobel Prize-winning playwright Samuel Beckett and the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass., after Beckett threatened to stop an ART production of his 1956 play "Endgame." The play will open, but the program will include a statement by Beckett objecting to the production.
The dispute, which pitted Beckett, 78, who lives in Paris, against the theater and its artistic director Robert Brustein, raised questions of artistic license, literary interpretation and the conflicting rights of writers and directors.
After hearing a description of the production as seen in previews, Beckett, who also wrote "Waiting for Godot," was outraged, telling his American editor, "This is terrible. This has nothing to do with my play." His New York lawyer, Martin Garbus, threatened to file suit in U.S. District Court in Boston to stop the theater from staging 28 planned performances of the play on the grounds that the author's copyrights had been violated.
"If you want to say this is the director's play, or Brustein's play, that's fine," Garbus said yesterday, after saying he would not proceed with the suit, "but it is not Beckett's play."
The dispute arose over a production directed by JoAnne Akalaitis. Set in a subway tunnel, the production opens with an overture composed by Philip Glass, whose music is heard two times again during the play. The set also includes a puddle of water in the center of the stage. In his stage directions, Beckett described the set as a small, bare room with two windows. The windows are missing in the ART production, and other elements of the set have been changed.
The suit was averted when American representatives of the playwright reached an agreement with ART managers. The first page of the "Endgame" script, which includes Becket w0040 ----- r e BC-12/13/84-SUIT 1stadd w0040 12-14 C09 said. "The thing about 'Godot' and 'Endgame' is that they pose questions and offer no answers. This furnishes answers and poses no questions."
Rossett said Beckett told him he did not want "those people," referring to Brustein and Akalaitis, to receive any future permission to produce any of his plays.