The Actory marches on despite production snags

The Actory Theatre Arts Center is at 610 S. Rock Blvd., Suite 143, Sparks. Call 331-9228.
The Actory hasn’t had the best start to the new year.

Executive director Paul Kiser said a week before opening the Actory’s latest production, Ladies of the Camellias, the theater company almost didn’t get to perform the play. Kiser said he had applied for the rights to produce the play in September and had sent his application to Dramatists Play Service Inc., a play-licensing agency, through its Web site. He said he had followed the directions on the site and printed out a copy of his application. When he did not hear from the agency, Kiser assumed the Actory’s request to produce Lillian Garrett-Groag’s 1992 play had been approved.

As the Jan. 26 opening date drew near, Kiser said he went to check on how much the theater had to pay in royalties. But when he could not find an invoice from Dramatists Play Service, he called up the agency and found out that the application had not been processed.

“This is the first time that we ever had … the application lost,” Kiser said.

Worse yet, the play had been restricted. Kiser explained a restriction is placed on a play when someone has taken an option to produce the play commercially. This option prevents theater companies from obtaining the rights to produce that play.

After several phone calls between Kiser, Dramatists Play Service and the agent who handled Garrett-Groag’s play, the parties were able to work out an agreement that the Actory could open the play, but it could not be reviewed, and it could not be publicized outside of the area. The Actory paid the $400 in royalties and was able to continue with the production.

Kiser called several media outlets, including the Reno News & Review, and requested that the play not be reviewed. He said he knows that he could not keep the media from reviewing the play, but he wanted to honor the agent’s request.

“I think a review would’ve helped and given us more exposure, but I can’t cry over spilt milk,” he said.

The RN&R decided not the review the play considering the circumstances.

But just when this hurdle had been jumped, another obstacle was thrown in the theater group’s way. One of their lead characters for their upcoming play, Julius Caesar, dropped out of the play because of a sudden change in the actor’s work schedule. Kiser decided to postpone the play, which would have opened in March, until next season.

“I just felt I could not find another actor to pull off [the character of] Brutus,” he explained.

Furthermore, there was the potential that the final rehearsals of Julius Caesar would conflict with the rehearsals for their upcoming productions of Art and Wit, which open in April and would cause some actors to spend longer hours at the theater.

Kiser said he hopes the postponement will allow the company to focus on Art, which won the 1998 Tony Award for Best Play, and Wit, winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize, and increase the quality of the productions.

"We do have a pretty good feeling [about these plays]," Kiser said.