Disney not amused by students' 'Sister Act' Ruadhán Mac Cormaic
With only two days to go before its opening night, a play to be staged by a gay and lesbian students' society at NUI Galway had to be pulled yesterday after organisers received notice from entertainment conglomerate Disney threatening legal action if the production went ahead.
Members of the university's GigSoc were in final rehearsals for a production "loosely adapted" from the Disney film Sister Act,
which was to debut at the Black Box Theatre in Galway tomorrow after six months of preparatory work.
But yesterday afternoon, in a letter sent via a Dublin-based solicitor, Disney informed the students that the performance would breach its intellectual property rights and threatened legal proceedings if the play went ahead, according to GigSoc.
The play's producer, Jeff Rockett, said cast members were "completely devastated" when told the news at a meeting yesterday afternoon.
"Six months of hard work, all for nothing. Cast and crew had given up their weekends and any spare time to rehearse and promote the play," he said. "They are simply in disbelief that something they have poured their hearts and souls into has been destroyed by an organisation that has brought joy to many of them in their younger years."
He said the play had attracted "fantastic support" from students of NUIG and neighbouring colleges, while there had been "record interest" from the general public. "We are dumbfounded by Disney's stance towards what is a charitable, non-profit-making society, aimed at promoting safety and integration for the student LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community. We were just having fun." Sister Act
was released in 1992 by Touchstone, a film division of the Walt Disney Company. Tickets to GigSoc's abortive performance will be refunded through Galway's Town Hall Theatre.
A spokeswoman for Disney did not return calls last night.
© 2007 The Irish Times