Own-it | Intellectual Property Know-How for Creative Businesses


Collaboration in the theatre: The writer-producer-director triangle

Published 24.09.08 at 19:30

Theatre is all about collaboration. Directors work with playwrights, producers work with directors and playwrights work with producers – apart from everybody else involved in a play. It is nearly inevitable to share and develop ideas with others during the production of a play or a West End show. But who will own the copyright in the end product and ultimately can exploit their rights when the show is a success? This podcast will guide you through certain rules and the legal framework of collaboration in the theatre.

Speakers included Harry Karaolou, lawyer at LG LLP, Annette Mees, Dutch theatre director based in London, Stephen Keyworth, writer for television, and Emma Taylor, artistic director of the Canal Café Theatre.

The event took place at the Rootstein Hopkins Space in September 2008.

This podcast appears as two parts. Access Part One and Part Two here.

Please note that these podcasts discuss the legal position in the UK at the time of publication. They provide general information only and are not to be regarded as legal advice. You must take advice from a specialist lawyer in relation to your specific circumstances. Further, you should seek additional legal advice when dealing with parties based in other parts of the world or works originating from other parts of the world as the legal position may vary.

Photo credit: Larsz


  1. Project proposal ownership

    Firstly a big thank you and congrats for all these hugely useful articles and newsletters!

    Secondly I would like to know what is applicable in the case of project proposals/light planning and change of hearts.

    I have been in talks with a Director that part of our master diplomas to work together on a piece of work - a relatively known literary text. I would be tasked with all production aspects. These preliminary talks took place over several months, fair to say almost one academic year.
    At some point before actually doing any work with the text in question, after meetings and budgets I drafted and action plans & calendars I have done and made available for the Director I was hit with the news that the person would not want to do this project unless i secure a huge and i mean huge funding.

    This in combination with other issues, i.e. exclusion from the creative process at the start, made me drop this collaboration, also due to financial challenges I had to drop my MA course in creative production.

    Almost 2 years later I found a Director with a bit more substantial experience and also zeal and less outlandish expectations regarding funding and started planning towards a project of our own based on the same text - which I have always been particularly fond of.

    Singlehandedly I have secured the required copyrights for the text - to achieve the new format i have been discussing with Director no2.

    A big Question is: Am I owing any explanations to the Director who brought this proposal to me in the first place? No common work has been done, I can confidently say all the planning (budgeting, calendar and action plan) is done by myself and i will not be using this as the text will be done as a different genre work.

    Many thanks in advance.


    Posted by MARIA CHIRIAC on 07.07.14 at 17:34


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