Sunday, January 29, 2006

When In Doubt, Quote Paul Rudnick

A fascinating piece by Jesse Green on lawsuits in the theater world. Is a director's contribution unique and copyrightable? If you stage a musical and one year later a regional company mimics almost everything you do, are they ripping you off? At first, I'd say yes. But then Green makes clear that if the staging of a play belongs to a director, in no time it would be impossible to mount, say, "Doubt" regionally without owing outside people a lot of money. (There are only so many ways to stage a nun sitting at a desk.) Does that mean the director "owns" the play in some significant way, just like the playwright? It's complicated and confusing but Green wraps it up nicely with a quote from Paul Rudnick, who frankly should be quoted for every entertainment story. "From now on," Rudnick says, "I'm only going to have my plays directed by lawyers."

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