What Does “Your Pen. Our Sword.” Mean To You? by Frederick Kirwin

Portrait of Frederick Kirwin by Scott Kahn
Frederick Kirwin by Scott Kahn

What Does “Your Pen. Our Sword.” Mean To You? by Frederick Kirwin

Twice the DG has intervened on my behalf. Last year, David Faux, with great finesse, extracted a copy of a youthful mistake of mine that had been deposited under (at best) questionable authority in a prestigious archive. The embarrassing script was finally returned with much protesting from the archivists.

Recently, an old play of mine was revived at an off-off Broadway theatre where the playwright seems to have little place. Early on, I was told that I had overstepped the very clear boundary between playwright and director (not true, no such boundary) and that I could not attend any more rehearsals. (Playwrights have the right to be present at all rehearsals.) Furthermore, the production was videotaped even though I had twice emailed, “Please, no videotaping or recording of the play.” And when the actors were asked to return the scripts at the end of the run, I was told that the scripts were the actors’ personal “keepsakes” and that they don’t belong to me. (I, the playwright/co-producer, had paid for them.) And I was also told not to contact the actors and to leave them alone! Having been banned from rehearsals, I hardly knew the actors or had any contact with them and merely sent each a SASE and a thank-you note. No scripts were returned.

Deborah Murad of the DG stepped in following my complaint, sending a letter to the director, outlining my rights (to attend rehearsals, script approval, no videotaping without my permission, retrieval of scripts). David Faux followed through with a letter that successfully extracted an affidavit from the director, stating that all existing audiovisual derivative work of the play had been destroyed, as well as all digital copies. David then sent letters to the actors outlining my rights and industry standards to have the scripts returned. (Since then, three scripts have been returned; one keepsake was thrown away.) Your sword, my pen. Thank you, David, Deborah, and the DG.

Learn more about what Your Pen. Our Sword. means HERE.

FREDERICK KIRWIN, poet, author of Billy (Playwrights Horizons, NYC), Swan Dive (Playwrights Horizons, NYC), Dog Bites Man (Marlborough Theatre and Rock Theatre, Brighton, UK), The Lottery (Tristan Bates Theatre and Fox Theatre, London, UK), Talking About Diana (King’s Head Theatre and Camden People’s Theatre, London, UK).