The false charges against Barack Obama from the Clinton campaign claiming plagiarism is laughable on the surface and ridiculous in the depths.
The bane of plagiarism, however, is a serious matter and it deserves more discovery and I will more formally address that topic in a future article.
Plagiarism — taking someone else’s ideas and claiming them as your own — is an issue to some in the theatre. I argue the distinction is meaningless because in a live performance the difference between stealing and inspiration is ever-changing.
I was always taught in the theatre that one should “steal” good ideas, staging, lighting and costume ideas and use them in your own productions. Why re-invent the wheel when someone else has perfected its shape, motion and necessity for the advancement of society?
I agree with that argument because the live theatre is never the same. An actor never walks the same line twice and never identically speaks the same sentence. Stealing requires reflectivity and predictability and the live theatres lives in the opposite fog of reflexivity and the immediacy of innovation.
It is easier to prove stealing in print and on film because the medium for the plagiarism is never fluid. The live stage is only, by its very nature, suggestive and inspirational and never “set in stone” — and if one dares to record a live theatre performance — the performance is no longer of the theatre, it is of television and film.
Some theatre directors and choreographers try to “Copyright” their staged direction in order to protect their “staging” of a play in case someone would steal their choreography in a future production of a different kind — but that sort of mindset is one of a failure of the spirit and an utter disavowal of the influence of the very fiber of the theatre: The inspiration of what has always been and what always will be; and one can never claim sole invention of what one never possessed in the first place.