One of my favorite shows was originally created by Toronto’s National Theatre of the World, then licensed for one-time use to a group in Belgium (who is deliberately not linked here). The Belgian company then continued to do the show regularly, without crediting NTOW. They also changed the production values in such a way as to make it a lesser show. Domeka Parker, of Portland’s Brody Theater saw such a production, and loved the core idea of it, but felt it could be improved. Without knowing of the original Toronto production, she requested permission to do the format from the Belgian company, which was granted. She changed up the format in such a way that it was more akin to the original format. I later saw an article about the first Portland production, and loved the idea. I contacted Domeka, and she came up to do a workshop of the format with Interrobang?! Improv. We debuted our version of the format in 2014. In 2015, we co-produced it again with Theater Schmeater and The 14/48 Projects. Not long after, I heard from one of 14/48’s producers that the format was trademarked. So I did some googling, found NTOW, and began an email correspondence.
This year, we’re again producing the format in Seattle, in a co-production with Unexpected Productions. Randy Dixon, the Artistic Director, has existing relationships with both NTOW and Domeka. With all the various links in place (except the Belgian theater), we’re all going forward giving proper attribution to NTOW whenever we produce the show.
This is how it’s supposed to work.
Aside from it being good karma, as much as we all travel in the improv world, we’re likely to run into one another. And this either begins or reinforces relationships which can then foster future work. As we each create our own new formats, we know that we have each others’ backs, and that collaboration becomes much more likely.