Abbey 'to pay €600,000' in dispute over play copyright
The board of the Abbey Theatre had an emergency meeting to approve a financial settlement to a Nigerian playwright who sued over copyright infringement.
Legal sources say the case taken by Bisi Adigun against the theatre, the novelist Roddy Doyle and producer Jimmy Fay will cost €600,000 in settlement terms and legal fees.
The board met on Tuesday night to sign off on a settlement for Mr Adigun arising out of a production of Playboy of the Western World.
A spokeswoman for the Abbey Theatre declined to comment on the figures involved but said the theatre had the resources to pay for the case.
“The Abbey Theatre is satisfied with this outcome. It is the best possible outcome for us from a financial point of view,” she said.
Mr Adigun agreed to the out-of-court settlement following a statement which was read out at the High Court yesterday.
The case arose out of a collaboration between Mr Adigun and Roddy Doyle over a production of the Playboy of the Western World which was first staged at the Abbey in 2007.
The chief character, Christy Mahon, was portrayed as a Nigerian asylum seeker.
The statement said the defendants acknowledged that there were royalty payments due to Mr Adigun’s theatre company Arambe Productions from both the first and second production runs of the play.
They also acknowledged there were alterations to the script for the second production run of the play “which were not authorised by Mr Adigun”.
In recognition of this, the Abbey had agreed to make certain payments to Arambe and Mr Adigun. It was also stated that Mr Doyle had “decided to transfer and assign all of his rights of whatever nature” in the co-authored version of the play to Mr Adigun.
Mr Adigun, of Moorefield Cottages, Roebuck Road, Clonskeagh, Dublin, had claimed 120 changes had been made to the co-written version, which was successfully produced at the Dublin Theatre Festival in 2007. Mr Adigun and Arambe claimed the Abbey, in conjunction with Mr Doyle, had remounted “a distorted version” in 2008/9, produced by Mr Fay.
The case was due to be heard yesterday but Mr Justice Kevin Feeney was told by Michael Cush SC, for Arambe, it had been settled on terms, including a statement read out in court, and all outstanding litigation had been resolved.
Mr Adigun founded Arambe Productions in 2003 and contacted the Abbey to inquire about staging the play there.
Mr Adigun said he approached Mr Doyle to co-write the play so as to make it an intercultural collaboration and also got a €10,000 grant from the Arts Council for Arambe.
An agreement was drawn up on February 6th, 2006. Another memorandum of agreement drawn up by Mr Doyle’s agent, dated January 16th, 2006, provided for him and Mr Doyle to abide by the terms of the Arambe contract and to agree in writing to any post-Arambe productions, he also claimed.
When the play premiered at the Dublin Theatre festival and ran for seven weeks, the Abbey failed to pay some €20,860 in royalties, he claimed.