NOVELIST Roddy Doyle is to transfer all his rights to a play he co-authored as part of the settlement of a High Court action over alleged copyright infringement.
He has agreed to assign those rights to dramatist Bisi Adigun who had sued Mr Doyle, the Abbey Theatre and producer Jimmy Fay arising out of the staging of a modern version of the "Playboy of the Western World" co-written by Mr Adigun and Mr Doyle. In this version, the play's main character, playboy Christy Mahon, is a Nigerian asylum seeker.
Mr Adigun, of Moorefield Cottages, Roebuck Road, Clonskaeagh, Dublin, had claimed 120 changes had been made to the co-written version which was successfully produced in the Dublin Theatre Festival in 2007.
Mr Adigun and his theatre company, Arambe Productions, claimed the Abbey, in conjunction with Mr Doyle, remounted "a distorted version" in 2008/9, produced by Mr Fay.
The case was due to be heard yesterday when Mr Justice Kevin Feeney was told by Michael Cush SC, for Arambe Productions, that it had been settled including on the terms of a statement which was read out in court.
It stated the defendants have acknowledged, and now acknowledge, that there are royalty payments due to Arambe from both the first and second production runs of the play.
They also acknowleged that 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 further stated Mr Doyle has "decided to transfer and assign all of his rights of whatever nature" in the co-authored version of the play to Mr Aidgun.
Certain other terms were also agreed between the parties and on that basis all outstanding litigation has been resolved, the statement added.
In his original statement of claim, Mr Adigun said that while writing an essay entitled "An Irish Joke, a Nigerian Laughter" for a book of essays 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 had founded Arambe Productions in 2003 and contacted the Abbey to enquire about staging the play there.
Mr Adigun said he approached Mr Doyle to co-write the play to make it an intercultural collaboration and also got a €10,000 a grant from the Arts Council for Arambe.
With that money, he and Mr Doyle were engaged and formally commissioned by Arambe to co-author the play under an agreement of February 6, 2006, he claimed.
Another memorandum of agreement drawn up by Mr Doyle's agent, dated January 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 claimed.
When the play premiered at the Dublin Theatre festival and ran for seven weeks, the Abbey failed to pay some €20,860 royalties, he claimed.
Mr Adigun also alleged Mr Doyle later entered a separate licence agreement with the Abbey for the purpose of mounting another production and this "unauthorised" production ran from mid-December 2008 to January 31, 2009.
The staging of that production without his consent infringed his copyright and his moral rights because substantial alterations and "mutilations" were carried out to the text and stage directions, he said.