WBEZ | Lincoln Center http://www.wbez.org/tags/lincoln-center Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 'A Free Man of Color' plays the name game http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/onstagebackstage-free-man-color-plays-name-game <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/A-Free-Man-of-Color-3.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="269" width="400" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-January/2011-01-04/A-Free-Man-of-Color-3.jpg" alt="" title="" /></p><p style="text-align: left;">I think playwright John Guare owes playwright Charles Smith a large apology. When the New York theatrical trades announced a few months back a big Lincoln Center production of &quot;A Free Man of Color,&quot; I assumed it was the play by Charles Smith that had received its world premiere in 2004 at Victory Gardens Theater, where Smith is a member of the Playwrights Ensemble. It seemed like a great one-two combination for Smith who also had an upcoming Off-Broadway debut of his 2000 play, &quot;Knock Me A Kiss,&quot; also originally presented at Victory Gardens.<br /><br />I was surprised to find, however, that the Lincoln Center play was a new work by John Guare (&quot;Six Degrees of Separation&quot; and &quot;House of Blue Leaves&quot;) and not Smith's play, which is called &quot;Free Man of Color,&quot; without the initial &quot;A.&quot; To add to the confusion, both plays are costume dramas based on real events in African-American history taking place less than 25 years apart in the early 1800's. Of course, both titles use a common phrase of speech--once a term with a legal denotation--and therefore not subject to copyright. Still, Guare as a playwright must be aware of Smith, whose plays have been performed in New York for some years. To pick a title so close as to cause confusion is a discourtesy if unintentional, and thoroughly despicable if Guare was aware of Smith's work.<br /><br />Smith has dealt with things in a business-like way: he's changed the title of his play to &quot;Freed.&quot; It will have its New York premiere in June at 59E59. FYI: Guare's &quot;A Free Man of Color&quot; received generally disastrous reviews. It closes Jan. 9 after a run of less than two months. Karma?</p></p> Tue, 04 Jan 2011 21:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/onstagebackstage-free-man-color-plays-name-game