Dutch Theater Performed Play by Gila Almagor Without Permission

Yael Gaton
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Yael Gaton

Holland's largest children and youth theater company, de Toneelmakerij, staged a production of the Israeli play "The Summer of Aviya" ("Hakayitz shel Aviya" ) and presented it 40 times, all without securing the permission of its author, Gila Almagor.

Playwright, author and actor Gila Almagor.Credit: Gabriel Baharlia

The play began life as an autobiographical novel, published in the mid-1980s. It was adapted for a one-woman show starring Almagor herself, and in 1998 a film version was released. The novel has been translated into several languages, as has the stageplay.

"Some months ago, I received a phone call from Holland," Almagor recalled. "The theater's dramaturge said she hadn't been able to reach me until now and they had to mount the production without my permission. When I requested their financial report, they refused and when I requested payment for the performances, they offered just 6 percent of the profits, not of the box office receipts as is standard. I am not their partner. It's theft," Almagor said.

In a letter to de Toneelmakerij, Almagor's attorney rejected the theater's offer, threatened to sue and demanded, on behalf of his client, copies of the financial reports for the production; 6 percent of the revenues from the production; and 5,000 euros in compensation for mounting the production without permission and for violation of copyright.

De Toneelmakerij rejected Almagor's demands and halted performances of the play.

Almagor is considering taking her case to the Dutch Embassy in Israel as well as turning to the courts.

The managing director of de Toneelmakerij, Erica van Eeghen, said in response: "We had trouble locating Ms. Almagor. After finding her, we offered her payment in accordance with European law, but she refused. We also sought to sign a contract with her for the 2009-2011 period. When she refused, we ended production of the play. So far we staged it at schools, to audiences of 25 students, in about 40 shows and a few times also at the theater itself, in a premiere in early 2009. The way things seem to be going now, I'm not sure a solution will be found," Van Eeghen said.