This useful clarification comes from The New York Times ArtsBeat Blog comments section; the wonderful advocate for new work, Morgan Jenness of Abrams Artists Agency:
New York, May 20th, 2010, 2:54 pm
As Deb Margolin’s agent I feel I do need to clear up a few things. Deb did not refuse to make changes – as the character was never meant to be biographical but metaphorical, functioning as an iconic representation of the opposite end of the moral spectrum fro Madoff. She was more than happy to honor Prof Wiesel’s wishes, since he was someone everyone involved with the show deeply respected. He stated to her that the character was not him, did not sound like him – which was true – as it wasn’t meant to be him literally but an imagining of him used as a means to have a deep discussion about morality. As one actors agent said to me when he heard Prof Wiesel was upset – “really, I thought he would be flattered”.
The issue also at play here is that Deb was willing to change the character (and it is mainly issues of the name and some details) out of respect, not because Prof Wiesel, being a public figure, really had the legal right to have any impact on the play so that when vetting became a condition for continuing, we found ourselves in the sticky situation of trying to maintain artistic rights and freedom, honor Prof Wiesel’s wishes and not jeopardize Theater J – which started to feel like contradictory choices …which is when we chose to withdraw the play since the situation really did seem like it could not be resolved in a way which could honor all those elements which we felt did need to be honored.
Happily, the production at Stageworks Hudson in New York, under the direction of Laura Margolis, is still happening in the summer so I do hope that everyone will be able to come see the play then and see what it really is.