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Protecting Your Theatrical Brilliance

Q: How much is sharing too much of my show? Can you share too much and someone rips off your show? 

Writers often refer to their shows as their “babies,” and like any proud parent, there is always an inclination to share about your child’s growth. Monthly photoshoots and videos of major milestones have filled timelines and feed since the social media explosion with no end in sight. Sharing and in many cases- oversharing seems to be a permanent fixture of our culture, so it is not surprising TheaterMakers want to tell the world about the new theatrical masterpiece we are working on. 

Like any brilliant idea, there is a risk someone will try and rip off your work but don’t let that deter you from building a fan base by releasing songs, loglines, or excerpts from your show. Idea stealing is a rare occurrence in the theater, and the two examples of theatrical duality I can think of- The Wild Party and Phantom of the Opera/Phantom were both based on existing material and not the result of ideas being stolen. Even the Broadway-aimed new musicals Paradise Square and Five Points which both feature stories around the birth of tap dance are merely coincidental and not the result of ideas being stolen. 

With producers and theaters often gravitating toward shows and artists with a built-in following, it is to our advantage to share our work to gather a fanbase and in some cases, financial support. The goal is to be strategic as possible with when, what, and how much material you release.  

Many writers have found it most successful to wait until their work is polished and packaged before releasing content to the general public. However, it is always useful to have a core group of trusted peers you can share (and overshare!) those growth milestones with. Creating is an artist at their most vulnerable, so it is natural to want a few cheerleaders in our corner when it is time to see if our material has the intended effect or (if you’re like me) when insecurity sets in and you are tempted to just select all and delete.

As the old saying goes, “There is nothing new under the sun” so chances are you’ve already ripped off someone else’s idea. What makes a work unique is the voice of its author. Even if a story is based on a shared experience, your personal viewpoint will always set your story apart from any imposters. 

PS: For the most security, work towards copywriting your work by taking advantage of the resources here at The TheaterMakers Studio. We are your all-inclusive stop to getting your work completed, protected, and produced!


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