Day 26: Who owns the words?

by Tobi Mattingly | Aug 16, 2016

The debate over playwright’s rights and intents versus director’s artistic vision and license is not going to be settled anytime soon. If ever.

Like so many things, it’s an incredibly nuanced conversation with excellent arguments to be made in favor of several different approaches. We could probably start this 30-day countdown over and spend the entire month sharing on this topic alone, and still not cover all the angles.

So we won’t try to; we’ll just hit one. (Fortunately, it’s one that’s pretty well thought out and manages to explore much of the nuance itself.) This HowlRound piece by Arwen Mitchell examines the larger topics of intellectual property and artistic vision through the lens of the much-discussed thatswhatshesaid, a play that pieced together only the lines of female characters from the top-produced plays of 2015.

There are no easy answers. As with anything, the best we can hope to do is consciously re-engage, always question ourselves and others, and continually be open to new information and differing points of view.

Tobi Mattingly is a Chicago-based director, actor, music director, and teaching artist. She is the founder of Artistic Conspiracy, an arts organization dedicated to creating and enabling world-changing theatre. Through this organization, she helps professional theatremakers take control of their theatre careers through learning and balancing artistic craft, bodymind practices, and business/marketing management.