Since I don’t quit at anything, I sure felt like a loser when I walked into the Joyo and told Dwight I was pulling the plug on both plays, Scratchin’ on the Eight Ball and Bloody Mary. It was not an easy choice.
In 1998, against all odds, I took on the YMCA in a copyright infringement lawsuit. There I was, a lowly writer from the mean streets of Havelock pitted against the YMCA over something I had written in 30 minutes on my old Commodore Computer in 1986. No one thought I would win.
But with two of the best attorneys in Lincoln from a well-known law firm, I actually won. Afterwards, one newspaper reporter wrote: David takes on Goliath and wins. Author slew a dragon!
Three months after the Judge handed the YMCA an Injunction forbidding them to use or create a confusingly similar program to Kasteland, one of the Y’s Board Members called me to say that 10,000 campers over a 10-year period had voted Kastleland Number One over 32 other programs. He asked me to lease it to them. So I made them the generous offer to lease Kastleland for $1 per year. The Board Member was very pleased and said he would take my offer back to the board, and they would get right back to me. They failed to do so.
But in 2007, when I discovered the Y had started running a new program, KnightQuest, I found it was so strikingly similar to Kastleland that I had the choice to either walk away . . . or take them back to court. Despite calling 15 different Lincoln attorneys, not one would take my case. So I filed my own brief with Federal Court. The Judge re-opened the case. And the fight was on.
After a dozen filings, I ended up back in the Omaha Federal Court. The irony was not lost on me. I was in Federal Court, not once in my lifetime, but twice? The simple fact remained: I had presented Kastleland for 10 years at their summer camp, and after failing to lease my copyrighted program from me, they had created one, that in my eyes, had 18 substantially similar themes!
For the last part of the journey, the Judge directed me to obtain a lawyer. Brett MacArthur took on my case. In the end, when the judge surprisingly ruled in the favor of the YMCA, Brett took it all the way to the Appeals Court in Saint Louis. We lost. And one of their statements came back to haunt me: One of the Y’s lawyers had made the comment, “We can’t believe Tom Frye is so arrogant that he would sue God!”
Talk about a let down.
So, now comes the question: Do I give up on the two current plays? Since I began work on these two projects in Sept., my lead actor quit 2 months into rehearsal. Then, all three of my actors in Bloody Mary quit due to committments to another theater group in town. My replacement for 8-Ball came on board, and although his diversion officer allowed him to count my play for community service, now because of truancy problems, his role as Reason Nelson has become tragic and ironic at the same time.
Fortunately, Sharri Reason/Bloody Mary, did not want jump ship, and she encouraged me to seek other actors. I did so, and put in a call to actress Beth Muehling, who posted a call to arms on Facebook. That very day I had over 200 hits on my site! However, I received no phone calls of interested parties.
My one spark of light in these turn of tragic events, is two of my kid actors, both on probation at juvenile court much like Reason and Vince in my book, have both been extremely loyal throughout this whole mad race, and I have no doubt they will make it to the finish line with me in the end.
I owe them big-time, for teaching me to never give up. So, I have decided to film both plays. My goal will then be to present both productions at the Joyo Theater when we have a finished product. So therefore, I haven’t given up, but just found a different avenue to take to reach my goal.
Quitter? Not I.