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Playwrights' Rights

September 21, 1986

Unlike in screenwriting, the work of a writer for the theater is his property and his property alone. It cannot be altered, changed, abridged or otherwise tampered with by actors, directors, producers or anyone else without his consent.

Furthermore, any incidental contributions made during the rehearsal process by others become, if incorporated into the play, the property of the author, since his consent is needed for such incorporation. The script is the copyrighted property of the playwright. Period.

The point that must be stressed is this: The above is all true whether you're Neil Simon or nobody--it requires no "clout" or famous reputation. It does require that the playwright know his rights and stand up for them should they be violated either with malice or in the well-intentioned application of "the process."

A playwright has to know how to listen, to observe and to be flexible in the creation of a play and through the rehearsal period . . . but he also has to know how to say "No," say it firmly and stay true to his unique vision. The Dramatists Guild is here to help with that and lots more, and can be contacted at 2265 Westwood Blvd., Suite 462, Los Angeles 90064; 213-470-3683.

DAN FENDEL

West Coast Representative

The Dramatists Guild

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