thoughts on Thatswhatshesaid?
I thought this was coming! I hadn’t posted about it because frankly I was still forming my opinion.
For those who haven’t seen, a woman named Erin Pike just ended a brief run of her show that’swhatshesaid, where she examined the roles (and lack thereof) of women in the 11 plays listed by American Theatre as the most-produced plays of the 2014-2015 season by lifting dialogue and stage directions from them and forming them into her own show. She received a cease and desist from Sam French specifically for her use of text from Bad Jews, which she then removed from the production but retained the rest of the text and read the cease and desist letter onstage. More publishers and playwrights have come forward to dispute her plagarism and/or fair use of the text.
@mildlybitter wrote a great article really examining the legal repercussions and fair use with regard to this production, and as she actually is a lawyer and a feminist and a theatergoer, I trust her take on the whole thing.
I think the statement Pike is trying to make is valuable, pointing out that even shows we think of as having strong female leads (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and Venus in Fur are included in her list) still may be lacking in the way they portray women. And I don’t think she’s trying to perform Bad Jews or Vanya Sonia verbatim (where in my mind the copyright issue would come in), just to comment on them as part of a larger conversation. I’m also looking at how David Adjimi’s 3C was eventually cleared of charges for copyright infringement because it was “transformational use,” which seems to apply here too. Because of that, I think it would fall under fair use.
All that said, publishers have licensing on how text can be cut and reproduced, and odds are good she’s violating those rules, so I can see why this happened.