Sunday, January 10, 2010


I have a dilemma.

The Cape Breton Stage Company is looking for submissions for their 2010 season. Since seeing their truly phenomenal Halloween show Tales from the Bottom of the Well last year I've wanted to submit a play for them to perform. I had intended to write one for this year's season but, two days after Halloween, a major event happened in my life that's kept me pretty busy; I haven't had time to write. Now the deadline for submissions, January 15, is less than a week away.

I thought I'd have to wait until next year. Then I realized I actually do have one work here, a short film screenplay, that would adapt very well to the stage with only minor changes; I could easily have an adaption written for the deadline. Perfect solution, except for one thing:

The screenplay isn't mine; it was written by Riin Gill.

You might wonder why, given my current feelings about Riin, I would want to work on something written by her of all people. Well, despite my current contempt for her and the difficult feelings the story itself stir in me, the truth is it is excellent work; it deserves to be performed. Yes, it is that good in my opinion.

The fact is, Riin never even copyrighted this work and precious few people have even read it; I could just as easily adapt it and take full credit for writing it and no one would be the wiser. But I can't do that. As a writer myself, I respect the work of others. I cannot take credit for someone else's work; if I'm going to work with someone else's work I need to have their permission just as I'd expect someone working with my work to seek mine.

Therein lies my problem: how do you get permission to work with the work of a writer who refuses to speak to you?

Honestly, I doubt Riin would even care; she even said herself, "You should still do the movie . . . I'll [even] donate two skeins of yarn if you give Happy Fuzzy Yarn a credit . . ." (the main character is a knitter). Mind you, I doubt she'd still be willing to donate any yarn to the project but, as to the play itself, I don't think she cares what I do with it. Still, I don't know that; I'd be a lot more comfortable if I had her explicit blessing to do this.

Anyone have any thoughts on what I should do? I need to figure this out before the January 15 deadline.


  1. John,

    My feeling is if you submit this, use a pseudonym. If her work is copyrighted, you would have to acknowledge that and I think she would have to be informed of it's performance. If she finds out you did it, she would be vindictive, JUST BECAUSE IT'S YOU! If you use a pseudonym, she wouldn't know who did it, and could care even less.

    My thought anyway.

  2. Marcy2:21 PM

    First of all, you are in a position where you really cannot get consent to use the screenplay. You absolutely cannot contact her.

    However, you can still credit her. Her name will be the author of the screenplay with your name as the person who adapted it.

    She won't see the performance, she likely won't know about it, unless someone who reads your blog contacts her. If she gets wind of it and wants to expressly forbid your using it, then OK. Otherwise, go ahead and use it, but make she's credited properly as the author.

  3. John,
    Don't use it no matter how good it is. In this case I feel that the ramifications of all that could happen would not be worth the stress you would likely receive.
    Don't Mess With A Angry Woman!!

  4. Please don't make me question your sanity and your dignity, by using a play written by that woman!!!

    It will come back on you , your more then capable of writing your own shit!


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