A little over a year ago I had the privilege of writing about five young artists this country should know! I received a lot of excellent feedback about that article and thought it would be a cool idea to turn this into a yearly thing. There is nothing more rewarding than working with kids in theatre. There are some fantastic communities in this country that is producing some amazing young talent. Here are another five young artists you should know about in this country!Read More
Last December, I wrote a piece on the fact that Broadway Break Thru and its founder David Petro, had not paid its guest faculty for their work during their summer college programs.
Some of the guest faculty hadn’t been paid a dime despite some of them being owed upwards to $1,000.
After publishing the article, I had heard that Petro promised(in writing) that he would pay all monies owed by February 28th. I’ve been told by various faculty, that he hasn’t sent them a dime.Read More
Iowa High School administrators demanded their spring musical get cancelled after they say parents and students complained about the content. Cast members say the content the school was trying to censor is the LGBTQ main characters.
Now the school is changing its stance and reinstating the production.Read More
Next week, the students at Mandaluyong Science High School are going to be performing their first musical production. I’m sure right now the sets are being finished, lighting cues are being entered and tickets are being sold. I’m sure the parents of the students at the Mandaluyong City school are getting excited to watch them perform.
There’s only one problem. The musical is Hamilton and they don’t have the licensing rights to perform the show. Because the amateur rights don’t exist.
According to the school’s drama club Facebook page, their production of the Lin-Manuel Miranda hit is set to perform next week.
The school is selling tickets to the event and even offering VIP seating for 100 phs ($1.91).
I wish I could say I’m surprised that this is happening. But like sands through the hour glass, so will a Southeast Asian school perform unlicensed musical theatre productions.
Mandaluyong Science High School is far from the first. In the past couple years we’ve seen this occur schools there trying to do productions of Coco and “Bombshell” based on the TV series Smash. Another school in the Philippines tried to be creative and changed the name of RENT to Seasons of Love to try to escape copyright violation.
This also comes off the heels of a school in Indonesia performing Hamilton as well. One break in the Southeast Asian trend was a school in Rio de Janeiro who performed an unlicensed production of The Book of Mormon complete with blackface. Yikes.
As I said earlier, I’m not surprised that foreign schools have produced popular musical theatre titles without obtaining permission in the past. But I am surprised that it keeps happening and the level of brazenness these schools have to flaunt it.
I do place some blame on the students, but not all of it. I didn’t know anything about copyright law as a high school student, so I can’t expect that these students are going to be knowledgeable of it either. However, I do blame the adults in the room. Whether it’s a teacher, director or adviser, someone at these schools need to know how to purchase rights and permission. By failing to do so, they’re teaching terrible lessons and putting their institutions at risk.
And before anyone brings up the stupid point of “Lin-Manuel already has enough money” blah blah blah, money has nothing to do with it. It’s the fact that foreign schools have no problem with stealing artistic property while almost all schools and organizations in the U.S. wouldn’t dare try. You would have to be Teresa Walker/Theaterpalooza level dumb to knowingly do that.
And the common defense of “Fair Use for Educational Purposes” doesn’t apply here because this a full-fledged theatrical production, performed outside the classroom, with admission being charged. But charging for tickets wouldn’t matter anyway. If an "audience" is invited or permitted—once again, whether admission is charged is not a factor—there no longer is "face-to-face teaching." Instead a "entertainment" is in progress. The spectators are not being instructed by the teacher. They are not enrolled in that particular course. Therefore getting permission is mandated.
But as I said before, foreign schools are keen on producing these shows without obtaining the rights. This is dumb and lazy, because most licensing houses have Asian departments to work with these schools. Why these teachers and schools choose to go the different path is beyond me.
So my advice to any foreign school that is even thinking about producing an unlicensed musical, please don’t. Go through the proper channels to obtain permission and this way you can save your students the heartbreak of not being able to perform a show because a cease and desist letter was sent a day before performances begin.
And to the Drama Club at Mandaluyong Science High School, I would pick a different show.
UPDATE: Within hours of this piece being publoshed, I’ve been told by sources that the show is cancelled.
Last week, news broke in Redlands, CA that a high school drama teacher was arrested on suspicion of having sex with two underage students and possession of child pornography. Joel Everett Chandler Koonce was taken into custody on November 9th. While these accusations are terrible, what’s even more terrifying is that this is the third teacher accused of sexual abuse over the past five years and the number of victims coming forward is climbing.Read More
A high school in Delaware is coming under fire over their response or lack thereof to claims of sexual misconduct involving a male staff member within its theatre department. Multiple students have come forward with claims of either being the target of inappropriate behavior or witnessing it firsthand.Read More
Last month, it was reported that a theatre teacher in Florida was arrested because he failed to report accusations of sexual misconduct to school officials or law enforcement. James Brendlinger, a theatre teacher at Lake Howell High School in Orange County, FL, was notified by a 16-year-old student that she had been involved in a sexual relationship with an adult volunteer with the school's theatre department. For almost a month, Brendlinger did not say anything to school officials or report it to law enforcement. Finally, when the student reported it herself to school officials, Brendlinger admitted he sat on the information and was promptly charged by law enforcement.
While there is a great distance between Orange County, FL and Reading, PA, this case might be relevant to what's going on at Reading High School where it's been alleged that a longtime high school theatre director has been fired not because she failed to report accusations of sexual misconduct, but because she did report them.Read More
Once again it appears as though educators have failed their students as a high school production has been canceled due to copyrights not being secured.
Over the weekend, students at Nansemond River High School in Suffolk, VA were told that their production of Disney's The Lion King would not continue because rights to the show had not been obtained. The worst part is, they had already begun performances.Read More