How do I find out where to obtain a licence for the play I want to perform?
Depending on the show, rights to perform may be granted by the author, their agent or a performance rights agent like Concord Theatricals. Information on who you need to apply to for a licence is usually listed on the copyright page of any printed text. Please make sure that you are using the latest edition of the text for the most up-to-date information.
You can search our website (using the search box in the top left hand corner) to find all the of the plays and musicals that we currently license. Any title that we hold the rights to will have a 'Request licence' button on its product page.
How do I know if a title is protected by copyright?
Shows are automatically covered by copyright law from the moment they’re written, which means that – for a certain period of time – if you want to perform them, publicly you need to seek the author’s permission and pay them to stage their work.
Copyright law is complex. The precise rules over how long a play is protected by copyright law varies from country to country but works likely to be protected by copyright are:
- Plays written by authors who died less than 70 years ago
- Modern translations or adaptations of older works, which are considered new works and the copyright is owned by the translator or adapter, even if the original author died more than 70 years ago
- One notable acceptation to these rules is Peter Pan by J M Barrie. A licence is still required for performances of this title in the UK despite Barrie having died more than 70 years ago, due to a special dispensation granted by parliament.
If you’re unsure on the copyright status of a play or musical, you can always email us at [email protected] and we’ll happily advise.
Do I need a licence for the type of performance I'm doing in my school, college or university?
If you are performing on the educational premises during the normal teaching day in front of a non-paying audience comprising of examiner(s) and students sitting the same module only with no advertising; this would be classed as an educational exercise and would not require a licence. If you are wanting to perform in any other circumstances, you will need to apply for a licence to perform. Visiting educational companies to schools will require a licence from the appropriate rights holder.
Can I sing songs from a musical in a concert?
You don’t need a licence from us if you are performing songs from a stage musical in a concert providing that the total amount of material from any one title does not exceed 20 minutes. Performances must not be visually suggestive of the parent show, for example through the use of costume, choreography, props, scenic effect, or, in the case of musicals, dialogue; singularly or in combination. For public performances of songs from a stage musical, a licence for the usage of the songs will need to be acquired through the Performing Rights Society.
How much will a licence cost?
We calculate an individual licence fee for every licence we issue based on the specific details of your application, so the best thing to do is apply via our website. You are not committing yourself to a production or to paying anything by applying but will give us everything that we need to formally confirm the availability of rights along with costs.
On musical title pages, you will see a fees estimator tool – this can calculate licensing fees for your show to give you an indication of pricing.
For plays, you will need to submit a licensing request via the relevant title page in order to receive pricing information. You can withdraw your request at this stage if need be.
When should I apply for a licence?
We take applications up to 18 months in advance of the performance dates and we advise you to apply before you make any time or financial commitments to a production, or before proposing it to a society. Rights can sometimes be restricted or unavailable for performance from time to time, so it best to make sure these would be available before you begin any work on a production. Strictly, you must have a licence in place before you begin any auditions, advertising or rehearsals, so it’s always best to check in good time.
If you are unable to or choose not to proceed with a production after application, you can just let us know and we can cancel it at no cost to you.
When do I need to pay?
Payment validates the licence, meaning that you can make commitments to the production such as announcing, auditioning, casting and rehearsing the show. Therefore, payment needs to be made before you want to start any of the above. Full payment terms for your licence will be detailed in your agreement.
Are scripts and music materials included in the licence?
In most cases, scripts are not included as part of the licence or musical hire package and will need to be obtained separately.
Scripts for plays can be purchased from our website or by speaking to our dedicated Retail Customer Services team at [email protected]. A published playscript must be obtained for each member of your production and they cannot be photocopied or reproduced as this infringes the copyright of the text.
In the case of some musicals, performance materials are only available on hire from us. Your Licensing Representative will be able to help if you have any questions about materials.
What happens to the music materials after our production has finished?
All music materials must be returned to us after your production has finished. We are happy to provide a UPS return shipping service free of charge. Learn more.
May I make an enlarged photocopy of the play for the director, stage manager or any other purpose?
If librettos/ scripts are not included as part of your hire package, they will need to be purchased separately.
For the majority of Samuel French titles, scripts are available to purchase in a Large format (A4) spiral-bound edition, with a blank page inserted opposite each page of text, ideal for directing or stage management use. For these titles, you may only make your own enlarged copy, with our permission, in cases where such an edition is not yet available to buy, providing that it is a Samuel French Ltd publication and that a standard copy of the play has been purchased by or for the person concerned. You must not use the copy for any other purpose and the enlarged copy should be destroyed after the play has finished unless you make further reference to Samuel French. We regret that we cannot grant this permission for scripts published by other publishers. Please contact your Licensing Representative if you need further help.
How do I go about reproducing an extract from a Samuel French publication?
Anyone wishing to reproduce, reprint or copy in any way all or part of a Samuel French publication in another publication will need express permission to do so. Although the work in question may be published by Samuel French, it doesn't necessarily mean that we are the copyright holders for the rights required. Please contact us in the first instance. If we don't hold the rights that you require, we can usually advise you who to contact. Almost always, a permission fee will be payable to compensate authors for any additional use of their work.
If you are seeking to reproduce, reprint or copy part or all of a publication by another publisher, you will need to contact them directly in the first instance.
Why does the availability checker indicate that the show is restricted?
In some instances, rights for a show can be restricted meaning additional clearances may be required before we can advise on availability. The reasons and the restrictions themselves will vary show to show however this is often so we can avoid licensing productions that may conflict. As such, we are not always able to confirm availability until we receive an application from you and start the permission process.
For international (Non-UK/Ireland) licence requests, all applications will be subject to additional clearances so you will need to submit an application to confirm availability. .
Does it matter which Concord Theatricals office I apply to for a licence?
Typically, performances in the USA and Canada are licensed through our office in the USA and a licence should be applied for through their website. If you are performing in the UK or Ireland, please apply for a licence through this UK site.
However, it doesn’t matter if you contact the wrong office – you can always contact us on [email protected] and our team can help.
A title is on the UK website for licensing but not on the US, what does this mean?
We contract with authors and agents specific rights to licence their titles; this can include amateur rights, professional rights, foreign language rights, and a contract will cover certain territories. As we have different offices in different locations, we often have two separate contracts for the same title, or one office may have a contract to licence a title but the other not. If you wish to know whether we licence the title and the rights you require in your territory, you can apply for the licence through one of our websites, or alternatively you can email [email protected] with the specific rights you are looking for.
We want to make cuts to the script or only present selected scenes. What should we do?
Any licence issued by us details that the whole show must be performed as written, and published to protect the intentions of the author(s). If you are wanting to deviate from this in any way, this requires the express permission of the author(s) or their estate, and you will need to provide details of this as part of your application. These details can be provided in the ‘additional comments’ field our application form. If the text is published, this should include page numbers and the edition of the text you are referring to so this can be easily referenced.
Can we cast our production as ‘gender blind’?
This depends on your interpretation of ‘gender blind’ casting. In most cases, if you wish to have someone who identifies as a different gender to that of the character they’re playing, this is permissible providing the character is played, costumed, and presented as the gender denoted in the text. This cannot be played in a heightened or conceptual way that would undermine the character’s role within the play or the intentions of the author. Additionally, you cannot not make any changes to the text whatsoever to facilitate this casting.
If you wish to alter the gender of the character from what is denoted the text, this is considered a textual change and so express permission must be obtained for this.
If this is something you would like to incorporate into your production, you should include details on your application or email us on [email protected]
We want to film our production as part of an assessment, for entry into a festival, or for archive purposes. Can we record it?
Our licences are for live stage rights only and do not include any permission to record your production under any circumstances. In certain instances, a separate video permission may be obtainable for an additional fee – you can contact your Licensing Representative with this request.
Are your materials available in specialised formats for people with disabilities?
Yes, they are. We provide green-paper scripts, scripts in alternative format for supertitles, and other specialised materials upon request. Please contact your Licensing agent for more details.
Our team are currently exploring ways to expand our available resources for actors and audiences with disabilities. If you have ideas or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you!
Please email us, with the subject line of “Access Resources”, at [email protected].
Are there other organisations that provide resources and advice for performers and theatremakers with disabilities and access requirements?
There are many organisations and charities that offer support and guidance. Here are just a few:
- Access All Areas – a company that makes disruptive theatre and performance by learning disabled and autistic artists.
- Deafinitely Theatre – a producer of professional high-quality theatre for deaf and hearing audiences of all ages and backgrounds.
- Disability Arts Online – a UK-based broad resource offering a platform to creatives with disabilities.
- Extant – the UK’s leading professional performing arts company of visually impaired artists and theatre practitioners.
- Graeae Theatre Company – a theatre company that aims to champion diversity across the sector, and places Deaf and disabled artists centre stage.
- Mind the Gap – England’s leading learning disability performance and live arts company, offering a wide range of programmes.
- Stagetext – a registered charity that provides captioning and live subtitling services to theatres and other arts venues to make their activities accessible to people who are d/Deaf, deafened or hard of hearing.
- VocalEyes – a registered charity that aims to make cultural experiences more accessible to those with visual impairments.
Also, here’s a great article highlighting Disabled theatre companies and organisations across the UK.