Sunday, 16 January 2011

Dramatising the ethics of intellectual property

If I find this intriguing, it might be a reflection of nothing more than my ignorance of the theatre in general, but a review of  Ira Lewis's Chinese Coffee at the Flight Theatre in Los Angeles caught my attention this morning as I enjoyed my first cup of coffee and did a little gentle Internet surfing. The review says that the play is "a weighty examination of a heated argument that treads a range of themes including the blurred boundaries of an old friendship, poverty for the sake of art, regret, and the ethics of intellectual property through the lens of two perpetually disagreeable and jealous old friends."

It also goes on to say that the dialogue (this is me paraphrasing) is pretty lame, but that the actors' "meta-communication" (nice expression, new to me) makes up for that. Judging by the extract here, the writing does seem to lack something - and presumably, by reason of its selection this must be a good bit. But for Al Pacino to have acted in and made a film of it is quite a compliment.

The plot turns on one of the character's latest novel, which he has shown to the other who realises that it is the story of their relationship. Quite a promising theme, but am I alone in thinking that to analyse it in terms of intellectual property shows a somewhat unhealthy obsession with the subject? The second character might well feel miffed at the first's use of the story, but where's the IP - except in the broadest sense? This sort of thing should, I think, be kept in the field of human relationships without reviewers starting IP hares like that running.

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