Imagining Madoff, a fictional dialogue between convicted Ponzi scheme criminal Bernard Madoff and one of his most prominent victims, Nobel laureate Dr. Elie Wiesel, will not be produced by Theater J because its author, Obie-winning playwright Deb Margolin, withdrew the piece, due to objections from Dr. Wiesel, the Washington Post announced today.
According to the Post’s Jane Horowitz, Margolin revealed that Wiesel had written her calling the play “obscene” and “defamatory” and threatened to sue to stop production.
Theater J Artistic Director Ari Roth, in the Theater J blog, asserts that he had proposed that Margolin rewrite the play (which had been introduced in a reading at Theater J a few months ago), substituting a fictional character for Wiesel. Margolin attempted to do so but eventually withdrew the play, Roth says. ”Deb Margolin [has] written her heart out in this play; and yet it’s a completely fictional rumination on a deeply proud–and, in the context of the Madoff scandal, shamed–public figure who was privately defrauded,” Roth observes. “The play has much pathos for him, but it’s painful to revisit; and the Wiesel of the play is unrecognizable to Wiesel the man himself. That’s both the best and worst thing you can say about the play.”
Instead of Margolin’s play, Theater J will produce Something You Did by Willy Holtzman about a 60s radical petitioning for parole after having been involved in an action which resulted in the death of a police officer. Rick Foucheux, who had been slated to play Madoff, here plays a former brother-in-arms turned neoconservative who opposes the protagonist’s release. “.. now we get to think about Bill Ayers and Glen Beck, and not Bernie Madoff and those he bilked,” Roth concluded. Something You Did opens August 28, 2010.