Alan Ayckbourn: Performance Rights & Licenses

Any public performance of a play by Alan Ayckbourn requires a performance license - this includes school / college and charity performances. This page contains information regarding performance license as well as performance rights contacts for professional and amateur performance rights.
Frequently Asked Questions: Performing Ayckbourn Plays
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about performing Alan Ayckbourn's plays (reproduced from Samuel French website).

On the Samuel French website, it says 'This title is currently restricted in London', what does this mean? Should we still apply for a license?
Definitely apply for a license. There are very few titles restricted in London at any given time and it is always worth contacting them about applying for a license. Whilst there are occasions when a play is unavailable, the majority of Ayckbourn plays are available to perform in London at any given time.

What's the difference between an amateur and a professional production?
The actors in a professional production must either be members of Equity or trained and / or recognised professional actors who work in the business. Amateur actors perform as a leisure activity and earn their living by other means.

Do we have to pay royalties if we don't charge for admission?
Yes. Legally a production must be licensed if it is witnessed by the general public, regardless of whether or not a charge is being made to them. Also performances before audiences reduce the earning potential of a play for which the author must be compensated in the form of royalty fees.

We are raising money for charity. Can we get a royalty waiver or reduction?
Unfortunately, no. Royalties represent authors' income and it isn't fair to ask them to support other people's fundraising in the form of lost royalties.

Our production is private. Do we still have to pay royalties?
A production is only private if it takes place in a person's home and only before their family and friends. Performances given in clubs, halls etc. are public ones.

Isn't a school production private?
If a play is performed by members of the school before an audience of staff and students it is classified as an educational exercise and no licence is required. However, if any persons from outside the school are admitted (e.g. families and friends) the production becomes a public one.

Why are plays restricted or made unavailable for performance?
A new play will not be released for amateur performance until the professional stage life has been fully exploited. Similarly when an existing play is revived professionally, amateur rights are often restricted or withdrawn completely until the professional contract has expired. This is in order to protect the professional production's box office income.

Surely our amateur production won't damage a professional revival?
Whether this is the case or not, it is standard practice for amateur rights to be restricted and often professional producers' contracts guarantee this. Licensing organisations, such as Samuel French, do liaise with authors' agents on many such applications as they certainly do not wish to lose amateur royalty income unnecessarily.

If a play is restricted, how long does it take to get an answer on availability?
This depends on a number of factors including where the agent is and whether the author needs to be consulted personally.

Is there anything else we should be careful of regarding restrictions?
The play licensers, such as Samuel French, are required to check all applications for major plays in the London area and in Edinburgh. This is because of the possibility of West End productions and of the Edinburgh Festival respectively. The best advice is always to establish that a play is available for performance before committing to a production.

Can changes be made to scripts when they are being performed?
No changes of any kind may be made without the permission of the author and this is a condition of the licence. This includes changing the sex of characters and cutting out "bad" language. Some authors may agree to changes if a persuasive case is put in support of the request, but this is by no means always so.

If a play is published, why can't we perform it?
Plays may be published before amateur rights have been released or even before the play has been performed professionally in this country. Such scripts are intended, at least initially, to be read rather than performed.

Can we video-record our production?
Video-recording is a complex issue; however, recording rights are not available at all with regard to productions of Alan Ayckbourn's plays.

Administrator's note: In the case of productions of Alan Ayckbourn's plays, permission to record productions of Alan Ayckbourn's plays is generally refused.

Are fringe productions licensed as amateur or professional?
It depends upon the status of the actors (see above). A production presented under an amateur licence in a fringe venue must be advertised as being an amateur one.

When does a play go out of copyright?
In the British Isles and the European Union a play is in copyright until 70 years have elapsed from the death of the author. When a play is performed in other parts of the world different laws may apply.

Which plays by Alan Ayckbourn are available to perform?
A complete list of Ayckbourn plays which have been released for professional and amateur performance can be found here. Please note, just because a play has been released for performance, does not necessarily mean it is available (see note about play restrictions above).
Alan Ayckbourn's Agent
Professional Performance Rights
Casarotto Ramsay & Associates Ltd
3rd Floor, 7 Savoy Court
The Strand

Tel: 00 44 20 7287 4450

Performance Rights (UK and Europe)
Samuel French Ltd.
Samuel French Ltd.
24 - 32 Stephenson Way
Tel: 020 7387 9373

Performance Rights (USA)
Samuel French Inc.
235 Park Avenue South
Fifth Floor
New York
NY 10003
Tel: 212 206-8990

Performance Rights
(Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland)
Drama League of Ireland
The Mill Theatre
Dundrum Town Centre
Dublin 16
Telephone: (00) 353 1 296 9343

Performance Rights (Australia)
Origin Theatrical
Level 1, 213 Clarence Street
NSW 2000

Performance Rights (East Africa)
Phoenix Players Ltd
P.O. Box 52383

Performance Rights (India)
Varthur Road
560 066

Performance Rights (Malta)
Dingli Co. International Ltd
18/2 South Street
Valetta VLT 11

Performance Rights (New Zealand)
Play Bureau (NZ) Ltd
P.O. Box 420
New Plymouth

Performance Rights (Canada)
Samuel French Inc
45 West 25th Street
New York
NY 10010
Tel: 212 206-8990
Fax: 212 206-1429
All research in this section is by Simon Murgatroyd and should be credited if reproduced.