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Performing logistics Posted by Nikole H. on Nov 03, 2009
Not quite sure where this goes in the forums and I'm sure it has been brought up many times but didn't know how to word it for searching.  I'm just wondering what someone has to do in order to legally perform a puppet show based on a published book for the script.  I am not receiving payment for my shows as I am doing this for my son's school but should I or someone be interested in going further, what are the steps?  Do you go to the publishing company and/or the author directly for permission?  Has anyone had any experience in this as far as the costs?  I have seen some scripts online that require a minimal fee for performances but am asking particularly in regards to published children's books if anyone has any thoughts.  If not taking payment for shows, should I still get permission to perform these types of shows since some are public?  I just want to make sure I cover all of my legal ends before venturing back into performances.  Eventually I would like to get to the point where I open my own brick and mortar puppet theater but currently I am happy with just visiting the classrooms on my own.  I am doing all of this on a volunteer basis since it is my son's school and it is my way of contributing.  I have craft lesson plans that go along with each show I have developed that are all based on the books.

Here is a list of stories that I have been working on:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Strega Nona (I've visited the author's website and tempted to contact him directly for approval)
The Gingerbread Man (I'm sure this one falls under the "royalty free laws")
Baa Choo
Along with two other original scripts created by myself

Thought I would bring up this question or as a refresher for anyone else thinking about this, too.

Re: Performing logistics Posted by Jon on Nov 03, 2009
I remember discussing this subject before but that thread appears to be so old that its no longer in the data base.

As I recall, legally speaking, you need to get the permission of whoever has the rights to the original story if you are going to perform the story publicly.

That being said, if you don't make any money and you're performance isn't to a large audience no one usually makes a fuss.
Re: Performing logistics Posted by Shawn on Nov 04, 2009
If you can find a way to contact the author direct then that is the best way to go. You might be surprised how many are more then happy to have you adapt their book into a puppet play. If you can't find a way to contact the author direct then shoot for the publisher.  

StoneLion Puppet Theatre that I worked with has done several adaptations of children books and the authors have been quite involved in the process even coming to premier performances and helping with the script.  If your "client" base is the school system then it is to some advantage to them to have you be presenting their stories often. Here is the link to one of the shows that StoneLion adapted. http://stonelionpuppets.org/shows/index.php?s=12 Actually if you wanted to contact Heather, the Artistic Director and founder of StoneLion, I am sure she would be happy to chat about here experience with the process.
Re: Performing logistics Posted by Shawn on Nov 04, 2009
Looks like The Very Hungry Caterpillar has been produced as a puppet show in the past. http://www.statetheatrenj.org/media/pdfs/caterpillar2008.pdf  You know in the instance of this author and book, I wonder if direct "permission" would be needed.  I see on his own site that he has a section where folks post how they have "used" his story in the classroom. http://www.eric-carle.com/catexchange.html
Re: Performing logistics Posted by Nikole H. on Nov 04, 2009
Thank you both so very much.  VERY informative.  I'm glad I asked.

Yes, I saw a beautiful performance of The Very Hungry Caterpillar performed in black light here in Singapore when we first moved here.  We are lucky to have an annual puppet festival and a VERY active children's theater here in Singapore.  I'm in puppet heaven.  I just bought tickets to their other performance for next week entitled, Fishy.  I can't wait.  I think I like these shows more than my four year old son....HA HA HA.

Thank you again.  I will use the links often.
Re: Performing logistics Posted by Nikole H. on Nov 04, 2009
I just looked at my program from last year and yes this IS the same production that I saw that visited us.  They were AMAZING!  I might get the courage to go and talk to them after the show.  I don't know why I get so nervous talking to other puppeteers. 
Re: Performing logistics Posted by Jon on Nov 04, 2009
You know, since you're in Singapore you may not have to jump through the same legal hoops that we do in the US.  Though it is always a nice courtesy to ask permission to use someone elses work.
Re: Performing logistics Posted by Nikole H. on Nov 05, 2009
Good point, Jon.  And I agree with you 100%.  I'm still a U.S. citizen but either way, I want to respect other artists.  But it is good for me to check out all the laws pertaining to this.  If I come up with anything else that I find, I will let everyone know.  I am going to contact all the authors first and let everyone know how it goes.  I'm getting a little star struck just thinking about sending those emails/letters to my favorite authors.  I wonder if I will even get a response from them directly.
Re: Performing logistics Posted by Nikole H. on Mar 25, 2011

I figured out what hoops I need to jump through to get my puppet plays legal.  I'm in the middle of jumping through a few right now.  I have to give credit to my wonderful husband whom I have "hired" on as my manager since he's the smarty business guy.  He looked at each book that I am basing my shows on and has found the publishers online.  Each book has their own way of wanting to get permission and yes ALL want permission for obvious reasons.  Eric Carle, author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, wanted to be contacted directly with pictures and or video of my puppet play.  Tomie de Paolo, author of Strega Nona, asked to go through the publisher with a mailed in request.  I'm sure that they will further ask to see pictures.  I've asked for the rights to use their books/stories for the basis of my chargeable puppet performances and to use their book covers on my site.  If you visit my site, you will see that the Strega Nona book cover is on my home page under CURRENT PROJECT for the author/publisher to see how I wish to use it.  I'm waiting patiently to hear back from these two authors.  I hope that I will be granted the rights.  My entire business is based on popular books brought to life by the 3D art of puppetry.

My advice to a new budding puppet performer wanting to start their own puppet business is to go with ROYALTY FREE stories.  It's so much easier...so much so that I've already written 4 stories that I hope to publish on my own to help build up the number of shows that I have in stock.  I give myself the rights to perform my own stories. lol 

But I won't give up on asking permission for each wonderful popular book out there.  There are just too many great stories that people know and love.  It thrills me to create a replica of the original illustrations and bring them to life.  I love hearing the gasps from the kids when they recognize their favorite stories or characters.  I have the best job in the world.

I'll update again once I hear back from the authors/publishers.
Wish me luck!!!
Re: Performing logistics Posted by Rikka on Mar 25, 2011
Also, by international laws an author becomes public domain 50 years after his or her death (German law says 75 years)- Did you know that Goethes "Faust" was based on a puppet play?
So, if you find interesting plays (Shakespeare? Or if you rewrite Dickens Stories as plays?) of people who died some time ago (there where some ancient greek guys who really rocked! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Frogs) you'd be legally safe. (Of course, if you use something translated, this might be under some copyright law....)

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