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End of Year 6 Production....Advice needed!

Discussion in 'Primary' started by Kaf80, Dec 21, 2009.

  1. Hi all
    We're hoping to put on a Year 6 production at the end of the year. In the past the production has always been a great success..but was hoping for some advice from people who have done it before! I was thinking maybe Oliver...any ideas where I could get a simplified script, music etc.?
  2. TweedJacket

    TweedJacket New commenter

    In the past, when I've tried to help people with this topic, I've had some smart-alec attacking me for peforming rights blah-de-blah so if you want some help, PM me.
  3. I may be one of the smart-alecs to whom you refer!
    Indeed, the first piece of advice I would offer the OP is to make sure the production you wish to put on is available for amateur licensing at present. This will mean contacting the UK rights holders. In the case of Oliver! this is Musicscope.
    Once you've chosen and got the OK for your production of choice, you'll be able to get hold of scripts/scores other performance materials from the rights holders. One thing to consider is that, in the case of a major 'West End' musical such as Oliver! or The Wizard of Oz, these will probably be expensive and, as one of the conditions of your license, you commit to performing the show as written, without alterations, cuts or extra scenes added in.
    NB I know that TweedJacket (and possibly others) will object to the mention of obtaining proper performing rights and not making cuts but this is important to remain within the law. If you are found in breach of performing rights law (and yes, I know the chances of being caught are small, but every criminal neglects to consider being caught!), there are significant fines and possible jail terms. People will try to suggest you use their 'adapted' script but this is illegal. If you cannot put on the full production (or it is too expensive for your school), then the answer is not to search for a illegal or immoral short cut, it is to choose another show more suited to the ability of your cast and/or the budget of your organisation. (rant over)
    Once the show is chosen and you have the scripts, set yourself a rehearsal timeline, working back from the performance date and setting yourself dates by which things should be done. Some of the areas to think about are:
    • Set/scenery - who will make it? who will move it? does it need to be changed or can some/all stay throughout the production?
    • Lighting sound - you may need to hire in some professional kit.
    • Special effects - e.g. smoke machines. These may also need to be hired.
    • Music - who will play it? Are you having a pit band? Rehearsals will need to be scheduled. Are you using backing tracks (some shows will come with them but my not allow them for performances, simply rehearsals) One thing to note about these is that unlike live music, if the children get out of sync with the music, you can't get them back on track
    • Costumes - parents or school to supply?
    I hope some of these thoughts were helpful, and not too smart-alec sounding. I do worry about the previous poster, if he believes that the important issue of performing rights can be reduced to:
    Good luck with your production.
  4. TweedJacket

    TweedJacket New commenter

    I always pay for 'proper' backing tracks that are licensed and we never charge for our school performances - maybe smart-alec was a little strong but it would be a shame to deny the children the chance to perform and blossom in confidence.
  5. Clarinetguy gives good advice.
    There are some fab productions out there for primary schools which don't cost an arm and a leg to put on, have good scripts (some can be adapted), super backing tracks and affordable performance licenses.
    Try AC& Black or Starshine as a starting point. Both will send you scripts on approval and I have used both in the past.
  6. littlerussell

    littlerussell New commenter

    Try Josef Weinberger's Broadway Junior range for (legal!) adaptations of West End musicals. They are pricey (£400 performance pack + licence) but are of exceptionally good quality.
  7. Blimey! That is pricey! Wonder if I could get some of the parents who want their cherubs to appear in Joseph to foot the bill?[​IMG]
    Thanks for tip.
  8. Leapyearbaby64

    Leapyearbaby64 New commenter

    We have used Starshine for KS1 and KS2 and they are fab.
  9. That's all well and good, but it doesn't make what you are doing much more legal.
    Indeed it would, though it is possible for them to perform and blossom in confidence doing a different show to a traditional 'West End' show. As previous posters have mentioned, there are so many great shows out there that are cheaper and easier to put on. I'm a big fan of Starshine's shows, as well as those from Musicline. Am just getting ready for the Shakespeare 4 Kidz version of Macbeth next term. Again, a pre-made script, score and CD, with performing and copying license included for a more reasonable one-off fee (think it was £200 plus VAT)
    Why not choose an alternative production and include a few of the songs from the more 'traditional' shows as part of a concert (and yes, this is covered within a normal school performing license if it is only a few songs and they are performed without dance, costume or acting)
  10. TweedJacket

    TweedJacket New commenter

    Paying for rights and backing tracks isn't legal? Hmmm, that's odd.
  11. write it yourself and buy a karaoke cd for backing - thats what i do!
  12. littlerussell

    littlerussell New commenter

    noeyedeer - we've also done Joseph and that was £35 for the rights ... bargain!
  13. netmum

    netmum New commenter

    It is illegal to use backing tracks whether they be licensed or not in a muscial production without the copyrght holders permission. Backing tracks are designed to be used in concert performances with no staging.
    No-one is trying to be a "smart alec" but when I first started out I knew little of performing rights, those of us who have learnt over the years are just trying to stop people getting into trouble.
    With regards to Oliver Twist the original book is out of copyright so anyone is free to write their own adaptation but must not use the songs from Oliver!
    Oddly enought there is an exemptionon using songs from other shows in pantos as long as it is not more than 3 (I think)
    Another show I would reccomend is Smike, I have fond memories of performing in that as a child.
    Finally here is an example of what can happen:
    During the evening of the 9th December 2008, following the issue of the Author Sales Reports up to the end of November, author Michael Buchanan-Smart alerted us of a copyright infringement.

    The Sunshine Coast Panto-Musica Society in the remote town of Gibsons on the Pacific coast of British Columbia, Canada were about to put on a production of Michael's Sleeping Beauty and had not purchased or applied for a Performing Licence. The 10 performances were due to start on 11th December, in just two days time, at the Heritage Playhouse Theatre in the same town.

    Furthermore, this drama group had purchased only 6 scripts for a production involving 20 principals and a total cast of 50 performers.

    On further investigation, it emerged that not only had the drama group abused copyright law this year, but also the previous year. In December 2007, the Sunshine Coast Panto-Musica Society had also put on a production of Panto at the OK Corral written by the late Jim Sperinck, again without applying for or purchasing a Performing Licence.

    Therefore, for two years in succession, the Sunshine Coast Panto-Musica Society had broken international copyright law and staged illegal productions of our Author's work.

    In light of this repeated pattern of copyright infringement of two of our Author's works, Jasper Publishing notified the drama group that they did not have permission to put on the production.

    Furthermore, we notified the Heritage Playhouse Theatre that the production was illegal and that the theatre would be vicariously liable if they were to allow the production to proceed and that the theatre capital and assets, including the building and land, would be at risk. The theatre immediately passed an emergency motion that they would not allow the production to proceed without prior written permission from Jasper Publishing Ltd.

    At the final rehearsal on the evening of 10th December, after three months of rehearsals and on the eve of opening night, the drama group were forced to announce the cancellation of the production to the cast, the parents, the theatre and the community and face reimbursement of all the ticket sales.

    As the reasons behind the cancellation became known to the local press and the cast, the parents and the community, the drama group were shamed in the local community.

    Author's works published by Jasper Publishing Ltd are protected by International Copyright Law, to which most countries are signatories, including, in this case, Canada.

    As soon as we became aware of copyright infringement against our authors, Jasper Publishing Ltd immediately contacted Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh in Vancouver, British Columbia who are Canada's largest firm practising exclusively in Intellectual Property law.

    The drama group now faces legal action.

    Under British Columbia law, the copyright owner may be entitled to all remedies, including statutory damages of between $500 and $20,000 for each instance of copyright infringement and the drama group officers may be held personally liable.

    This whole incident caused unnecessary inconvenience and stress for everyone involved, for the children and other members of the cast, the parents, the community, the theatre, the publisher, the author and the drama group and it's officers. Furthermore, lawyers were involved as the matter escalated and the local press ran the story.

    In order to continue to provide a service to amateur drama groups, authors and the audience, it is necessary for the publisher and the authors to earn a modest income for their work.

    The conclusion to be drawn from this example ... it is the drama group's responsibility to apply for and purchase Performing Licences in a timely manner in advance of the production. Jasper Publishing Ltd has and will exercise it's right to stop a production and take legal action against any drama group which infringes the copyright of any of our Authors, regardless of location, no matter how remote.

    We will be going back through our computer records dating back to 2000 specifically looking for cases of copyright infringement. So, if you think that your drama group may have infringed the copyright of one of our Authors, we would encourage you to check your records. It will be much better for the drama group to contact us first. Without prejudice to our position, if the drama group contacts us first, we are able to treat the infringement as accidental, otherwise we will treat the infringement as intentional and take legal action accordingly.

    Fairies to the Rescue

    In the true tradition of British pantomime, there are good Fairies, wicked Witches, right prevails over wrong and there is a happy ending. This pantomime is no exception.

    Neither Jasper Publishing nor the Author Michael Buchanan-Smart wanted to see the children and other cast members, parents or the community suffer as a result of the behaviour of the drama group officers.

    Therefore, at 6 am Vancouver time on the 11th December, the day of the first performance, following emails which had been received overnight with personal appeals from two young girls in the cast, Jasper Publishing Ltd and the author Michael Buchanan-Smart took the unprecedented step of issuing the Performing Licence to two Fairies: Paige Gagne (14 years old - Fairy Floss) and Amanda Tyner (Fairy Light - Principal Boy). We understand that these two young girls were hailed as local heros that morning.

    Despite the gross abuses of the drama group, we demonstrated our good faith to the Gibsons community by unilaterally issuing this Performing Licence without there having been any formal application or any payment in order that this pantomime could proceed. We also immediately notified the Heritage Playhouse Theatre of our written permission.

    The pantomime went ahead on the opening night as originally planned.

    Notwithstanding this, the drama group and their officers currently face legal action and very substancial statutory damages for all 34 instances of copyright infringement and the drama group and the individual officers have now been permanently blacklisted by Jasper Publishing Ltd.

    Drama groups should not assume from this example that we ultimately allow a production to proceed. The overwhelming consideration, for both us as publisher and for the author, was that this was a pantomime with children involved. Children were acting and children were in the audience. It is very unlikely that we would take the same position for a play and we may still exercise our right to prevent a production of a pantomime.

  14. Ooh! Where from littlerussel? How much did the play pack cost or did you have to find sheet music and scripts yourself?
  15. seakay

    seakay New commenter

    We've done Wind in The Willows and Treasure Island from Kingsbury Creations. They were both great, about £100 including cds with and without vocal and performance liscence. We made the money back through ticket sales. We felt we could charge a nominal ticket price to cover costs etc...
    The scripts were well written although we did cut some bits out and the songs are challenging but achievable. We had all of Key Stage Two involved at different points it was great fun!
  16. i used this last year:
    Some fab productions. We did cinderella and rockerfella. Was a fab production. Everything is provided for in the pack on the site.

  17. I'm hoping to do Joseph this year - where did you get the script/music from?! Thanks!
  18. I agree that writing yourself, (or with the children, or the children without you), including any dance or music, is an option which doesn't get enough mention. It is cheap (free), legal and above all educational. It was how we once regularly used to do it, I'm surprised in the times of the Creative Curriculum, it isn't regarded as a first choice approach.

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