Roddy Doyle told to provide 'Playboy' statement to court


Novelist Roddy Doyle has been ordered by a High Court judge to provide a sworn statement that he has only one version of a play allegedly co-written by him and a man who has alleged copyright infringement.

Mr Justice Michael Hanna yesterday dealt with pre-hearing discovery issues in the action by dramatist Bisi Adigun against the Abbey and Mr Doyle over a modern version of the Playboy of the Western World in which the main character, Christy Mahon, is a Nigerian asylum seeker.

Mr Adigun had applied to the judge for Mr Doyle to disclose or “discover” any second script.

The judge said Mr Doyle should make his position clear on affidavit. Mr Doyle was a “craftsman with words” and had “no excuse” for not making it clear he did not have a second version when he swore an affidavit responding to Mr Adigun’s application for discovery of documents, he said.

New affidavit

He ordered Mr Doyle to swear a new affidavit that there was only ever one script, as his defence team had told the court yesterday, and that no alternative existed. He granted costs of the application to Mr Adigun.

In his application for discovery, Mr Adigun claimed 120 changes were made to the Playboy version he co-wrote with Mr Doyle and which was successfully produced in the Dublin Theatre Festival in 2007.

In his main action, he claims the Abbey, against his wishes, and in conjunction with Mr Doyle, remounted “a distorted version” in 2008/9, produced by director Jimmy Fay.

Mr Adigun, who is also a director/producer, of Moorefield Cottages, Roebuck Road, Clonskeagh, Dublin, is suing the Abbey, Mr Fay and Mr Doyle over that staging. The defendants deny the claims.

In an affidavit, solicitors for Mr Doyle said Mr Doyle’s consent was required for the first staging of the play in 2007.

While his consent had not been sought or obtained in an agreement for that staging, Mr Doyle had not wanted to prevent that first run because that would have had harsh economic consequences for those involved. He had, however, reserved his rights and contended the agreement for that first staging amounted to a fundamental breach of contract.

Mr Doyle intended to fully defend the claims against him concerning the second staging of the play in late 2008. To his knowledge, no changes were made to the script for that and he had no liability in that regard, it was stated.

‘Marvellous idea’

In his statement of claim, Mr Adigun said, while writing an essay for a book in 2003, he thought it would be “a marvellous idea” to write a modern version of the Playboy with a Nigerian refugee as Christy Mahon.

He founded a theatre company, 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 to make it an intercultural collaboration and got a €10,000 grant from the Arts Council.

With that money, he and Mr Doyle were engaged and formally commissioned by Arambe to co-author the play under an agreement of February 6th, 2006, he claims.

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 contract and to agree to any post-Arambe productions, he claims.

When the play ran for seven weeks, the Abbey failed to pay €20,860 royalties, he claims.