Monday, January 27, 2014

My hairdresser reminded me that I ought to do something about performing rights in advance of my November show. This, a fortnight ago.

"Didn't you have some issue with performing rights last time?" he said, almost enticingly.

I racked my brain to consider what issue there could possibly have been with considerately long dead Shakespeare. Or that play that I wrote with my own hand? But go back one show further and yes, an almighty fankle to get the agent for Forgive Us to let me know that we could perform the show again not eight times over a weekend in a cool site specific venue as originally proposed but simple once in the end in the Masonic Hall in Dumfries this time last year. Yes indeed, my hairdresser was right.

The inside front page of Festen offers up an enquiries email address (one of those suspicion-inducing "info@" addresses that are likely never looked at, let alone answered. So I sent off a request without much hope of a response. 

Two weeks on. Nothing. The worm of fear starting to nag at the back of my head: well, that would be embarrassing, wouldn't it (delivered in a wormy voice)? So I thought I'd better try a bit harder.

Phone Someone.

The script is published by Methuen. Look them up. Performing rights? Oh, there's an "@info" / email into the dark void of non-response email address. Let's try and call someone.

As ever, the telephone number is tucked away where no-one can find it except the extremely determined. And then there are two numbers, different area codes, placed alongside each other like nestling bed fellows, with no indication of who or what can be found at each. 

I phone the first one. It rings for a long time. Eventually, a man answers. He sounds distant and old. As if he has just clambered creakily down a long long ladder in the darkest, furthest from civilisation reaches of the ancient wood-panelled Methuen library and instructed by the impatient lady of the house, has creaked obediently to answer this new-fangled incursion of the modern day into his Defence Against The Dark Arts reverie.

I explain what I'm after with no expectation of resolution.

"Festen?" he creaks, "oh yes, Festen!" (Let's consider the millions and billions of titles that Methuen, across their myriad publishing divisions must issue year after year.) "That's the one where the rights are owned by a woman, some woman, her name is in the book. I wish I could remember it!"

I pour over the opening pages. Adapted by David Eldridge.  Based on the film and play by Thomas Vinterburg, Mogens Rukov and Bo hr. Hansen. I read these names to the man doubtfully. Bo could well be a girl, of course. The other two, not so much.

"No, no, no," says the man, not impatiently. "There's another name. It's in the script. Have you looked properly?"

I look carefully over the pages. Page one is all about David Eldridge. Page two is blank. Page three is the title page. The three names at the top. Adapted by Mr Eldridge underneath. Page four. Copyright details, the three owners, David, the Danish info address. Page five: a dedication to Caroline. 

But ah hah! Page six. "The author would like to thank Thomas Vinterberg, Mogen Rubens, Marla Rubins and Rufus Norris for their patience and wise advice."

Bingo! says Mr Methuen. Well, he didn't say that precisely but this was the sentiment.

"Marla Rubins. She's Canadian, she's the producer, you need her permission. She lives in South West London. I hope you track her down. Good luck!"

Dear Mr Methuen. I thank you. (I thanked him effusively.) Down with the phone. And the search goes on.


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