Question:

What is special about Murder By Death play?

by Guest6842  |  earlier

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Are you aware of a mini-tragedy when the Nashoba Regional High school on Bolton Mass was unable to put on the above play due to a mess-up around getting permission. Can you tell me if there is something special about this play? Should this have worked out well if done properly?

 Tags: Death, murder, Play, special

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  1. Guest23269002

    Hi,

    actually, there is something special about this play.

    I read about that incident, and the laws about getting permission, signing a contract and paying the proper royalties to get the right to perform a play or musical are very clear. Apparently the problem was that they high school's director never bothered to get the rights to do the show. His motives were innocent; he had found the script on the internet, couldn't find a publisher listed anywhere and assumed that the show was in the \"public domain\", meaning that the playwright was long dead and it was not necessary to get permission or pay royalties (like Shakespeare, for example). I have to say he was exceedingly stupid since the playwright is Neil Simon who is very much alive, still writing play after play and is one of the most popular playwrights around.

    Playwrights make their living from the royalties paid by those who want to produce their work, and doing the play without getting permission and paying royalties is stealing, nothing less.

    This was a special case though. There is no play of \"Murder by Death\". The reason he couldn't find a publisher is because there is none. \"Murder By Death\" was a film written by Neil Simon and the script on the internet was the screenplay. It is illegal to adapt a playwright's (or screenwriter's) script to another medium without getting his permission and the rights to do so. Gary DeSilva, Neil Simon's lawyer explained:

    If Simon decides to adapt his work to another media; he does it himself and maintains tight quality control. If you let one group do it, how do you say no to someone else? It's a case of the famous flood gates opening up...We are not singling out this school.

    So, when the director couldn't find the play's publisher or licensing agent, he should have contacted Neil Simon directly or Samuel French, the publisher who publishes his other plays, and asked about \"Murder by Death\". If he had done so, he would have found out what I did. He just made an assumption and never did his homework.

    So the answer is, no, Murder by Death would not have worked out if done properly. But, if done properly, the school would have known from the beginning that the show was not available for stage production and they would have chosen another play to do that they could have done legally and they would not have wasted all that time rehearsing a play they didn't have permission to do. Then there would have been no disappointment and the show would have gone on as scheduled.

     

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