Novelist Roddy Doyle has been ordered by a High Court judge to provide a sworn statement that he only has one version of a play he allegedly co-wrote with a man who is suing him and the Abbey Theatre in a row over alleged copyright infringement.
Mr Justice Michael Hanna said he did not understand why Mr Doyle had not made this clear in a document he provided in his defence of an action by dramatist Bisi Adigun against the Abbey and the novelist over a modern version of Playboy of the Western World. In the modern play, the main character, Christy Mahon, is a Nigerian asylum-seeker.
The judge was speaking when ruling in favour of an application by Mr Adigun seeking that Mr Doyle disclose the alleged second Playboy script. The novelist had “no excuse” for not making it clear he did not have a second version when he swore an affidavit in response to Mr Adigun’s application for discovery of documents, the judge said.
“He is a craftsman with words, if he does not understand the affidavit he is swearing, it does not reflect particularly well on him.”
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. He also granted costs of the application to Mr Adigun.
Mr Adigun claimed 120 changes were made to the version he wrote with Mr Doyle, which was produced in 2007. He claims the Abbey, against his wishes, and in conjunction with Mr Doyle, remounted “a distorted version” in 2008/9, produced by Jimmy Fay.
Mr Adigun, of Clonskeagh, Dublin, is suing the Abbey, Mr Fay, and Mr Doyle over that staging of the play. Mr Doyle and the other defendants dispute Mr Adigun’s claims.
In an affidavit by solicitors for Mr Doyle, it is stated that Mr Doyle’s consent was required for the first staging of the play in 2007.
It had not been sought for that staging but Mr Doyle had not wanted to prevent that first run as it would have had economic consequences for those involved. He had, however, reserved his rights and contended the agreement for that staging amounted to a fundamental breach of contract.
He also intended to defend the claims against him concerning the 2008 staging of the play. To his knowledge, no changes were made to the script and he had no liability in that regard.
Mr Adigun said he had the idea for the play in 2003 and later approached Mr Doyle to co-write the play to make it an intercultural collaboration, securing a €10,000 grant from the Arts Council for his own theatre company, Arambe.
With that money, he and Mr Doyle were engaged and formally commissioned by Arambe to co-author the play under an agreement of Feb 6, 2006, he claims.
Another memorandum of agreement drawn up by Mr Doyle’s agent, dated Jan 16, 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 claims.
He also alleges the Abbey failed to pay €20,860 royalties from the 2007 staging.
Mr Adigun also alleges Mr Doyle entered into an agreement with the Abbey for the purpose of mounting another production from Dec 2008 to Jan 31, 2009.
The staging of that production without his consent infringed his copyright and his moral rights, he claims.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved