Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Playwright vs. Director

Creation(Playwright) is not synonymus with interpretation(Director)

Composer - Conductor

Playwright - Director

The conductor has interpretive control, and even has rights to recordings of his/her performances...but has not rights to the notes on the page and any honest comparison to their production choices to another conductors is subjective at best.Aside from blocking...to my mind this situation sets a precedent that playwright/director situation can emulate.

OR

If a director steals, then it is from another director. Therefore, the director has the right to attempt to sue the other director, but not the playwright, the producing organization, or any other body.

The Conductor has more in common with most theatrical directors than a theatrical director has with a film director.

Although highly valuable, the theatrical director's contributions to the event are subjective. Therefore, aside from blocking, there is no way to objectively judge whether or not one director has stolen from another, such is the fate of an interpretive artist versus a creative artist.

The only measurable contribution a director makes is blocking, everything else while valuable is ultimately unverifible, ethereal and therefore unfit for copyright. I thinks director of a world premiere could ask for a cut of royalties for a specific amount of time, the same way a producing organization does.

2 comments:

Don R. Hall said...

The problem inherent with your solution (the director has the right to attempt to sue the other director, but not the playwright, the producing organization, or any other body.) is that the other director ultimtely retains no long term rights to the piece, so suing a director for the ideas he put forth on a play he has no rights to is silly.

I don't agree with you that the director's role is strictly interpretation. I direct a lot of what many classify as "sketch comedy" although by the time I'm finished with them, they often resemble absurdist plays.

This is not a many of moving actors around or contributing a set design comncept - this involves the cutting and pasting of chunks of text, re-ordering the scenes and creating an overall thematic structure - quite a bit more than interpretation.

Yeah, Don, but that's sketch comedy.

From fremodada's blog:

Initially, I read Dexter as just comic relief and a break from the tension between the leads. But after last night, he's taken on an almost heroic quality - showing just what awesome stuff Don is doing with this show.

I didn't write the character; I don't play him. But to assert that my involvement is somehow less creative, less original than either the playwrights or the actors is not realistic and doesn't acknowledge the truth of the situation.

The solution to all of this? I dunno.

I think you can make just as an effective case that the actor's interprtation of character is as creative and original as the playwright's as well.

I do not think director's should get to copyright this contribution, but perhaps a longer term slice of things would solve the problem.

Josh Costello said...

Did you read the NY Times article on Jan. 29 about this very thing?

You say, "The only measurable contribution a director makes is blocking..." Not sure I agree. If blocking is measurably and verifiably the director's own work, despite itself being highly influenced by the designer's groundplan and the actors' contributions, not to mention the playwright, than you could probably make a case that the design, pacing, and other aspects belong to the director as well.

I'm a director. I can't imagine how anyone could measure and quantify and divide up the work that goes into a production. At the same time, I don't want to get screwed over -- and the Times article made a pretty solid case that this is something that does happen.

So I agree with your point. Impossible to objectively judge, therefore some kind of cut of the royalties makes sense.