My campus has a drama-club. Each semester they do a series of three short student written plays. I have never done theater before so this was very exciting for me, I have studied television production so I, more or less, know the ins-and-outs of how theater works. I like to write scripts, I think I am pretty good if my self-promotion means anything.
The bureaucratic nature of the drama-club. I never in my wildest dreams imagined I would face this much opposition in getting my creativity out in the open. After auditions I was given a role in one of the student plays. The play is called Help Wanted (the title has no relation to the story for some reason), the “story” revolves around two slaves in ancient Egypt who conspire against the blowhard pharaoh and his advisor (played by me). The script was atrocious. Riddled with spelling errors, grammar errors, blocking wasn’t indicated with parentheses, the story was virtually non-existent, the characters dull and pointless. It was bad. During rehearsals we were constantly fumbling through our lines trying to make sense of what was just said. We made it through in 2 minutes, the play should last 8 minutes long.
I protested to the club director. I told her this play was unusable, then asked to make a rewrite. They said I couldn’t, that it was up to the director to authorize any changes made. Fine I thought. So I set about rewriting the play with a friend of mine, over several hours we crafted a story that made it more of a play within a play. Similar to The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. Overall I am extremely happy with how it turned out.
Today during our meeting I brought the revised script in and passed out copies to the cast members. They loved it! Their laughter was very encouraging, it almost seemed like this would get the go ahead no questions asked. So we sat and waited, we never got to rehearse our script. Out of the three student plays, two people didn’t get picked for any of them. I felt bad, luckily the rewrite called for two additional parts, albeit very minor ones. I offered them the roles and they accepted, we were all pretty happy about how things were shaping up.
The club director, along with one of the other directors, pulls me into the hallway and they *royally * chew me out. Well, the club director does. The other one kept her mouth shut and watched the fireworks. She said I had zero authority to make changes to the script (even though the original script was included, word for word, totally unchanged), that I never should have handed out copies for the crew to read over, and that I stepped way out of bounds by asking those people to fill in those roles.
“They didn’t get picked for anything and I wanted to have everyone in the club participate”, I argued.
She said flat out that she didn’t care, and even if this mythical original author DID approve the play that those roles would have to be cut. She then insulted me, called me a child, then bitched some more and told me to go back to my seat like I was some sort of retard. I felt horrible telling the people I asked to fill the roles that they were banned from being in the play. It doesn’t feel right. I get the “you aren’t the director, you aren’t the writer, you have no authority to make decisions”, bitch please, it’s drama club. Everyone should be allowed to have creative input.
I am not sure how I can make the outcome of all this into a positive one. Since the play is student written then isn’t it public domain and the writer has no say in how it is used? Some sort of creative commons copyright issue? With my revision the original play is used in an ironic satirical way, so couldn’t it be filed under parody and thus avoiding ownership issues? I need solid evidence to really nail this bitch. If it’s a club shouldn’t it be a democratic thing?