by Patrick Hamilton
A special note on availability of this play:
With the passage of the USMCA trade deal, Canada has, under pressure from the U.S.,
increased copyright duration for authors from
"the life of the author plus 50 years" to "the life of the author plus 70 years".
THIS IS NOT A GOOD THING!
It benefits no one except the companies that control the rights.
When the U.S. unilaterally increased their copyright protection in the 1990s from 50 to 70 years,
it was jokingly called the "Mickey Mouse" copyright act --
because it was done to allow Disney Corp. to maintain copyright on their cartoon rodent.
By the time "life of the author plus 70 years" expires, there could easily be over 2,400 descendants,
each entitled to a share in royalties, likely only pennies per annum.
Yet, the controlling companies continue to collect 100% of their share.
In the meantime, plays such as the one on this page,
legitimately created while the original was in the public domain in Canada,
are suddenly no longer available, harming myself as author,
producing groups such as yours,
and the general public who are prevented from seeing this work.
While the wording of the clauses in the USMCA is a little unclear,
it could be that works that have already fallen into the public domain in Canada
will be re-included in copyright protection.
MEANING THAT THIS PLAY WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD UNTIL JANUARY 1, 2033!
Patrick Hamilton's classic thriller (Gaslight in the U.K.; Angel Street in the U.S.) started classic thrillers -- everyone else owes him a debt.
Unfortunately, in a world where most new plays don't even last 90 minutes (and don't have an intermission), Hamilton's Gaslight runs three long acts of slow-moving dialogue with little action.
This new adaptation turns a pretty staid three-act into a fast-moving two-act and keeps the action moving -- along with everything else.
Hamilton's original play is in the public domain in Canada, at least for now, and so this adaptation can happen, at least for now. Don't hesitate, though! Changes to the copright laws are coming!
One evening, when Jack has gone out, a stranger appears with a strange story to tell. Bella is not losing her mind -- and her husband is definitely not the man she thinks he is.
The search for missing rubies and the malevolent presence of Jack keeps the tension at a high level and the plot flowing.
When Gaslight came to Broadway, the name was changed to Angel Street to, I believe, avoid confusion with a similarly named show. A few minutes with a map of London would have shown that "Angel Street" is a one-block lane that had been occupied for two hundred years by the British General Post Office buildings. The Manninghams never lived on Angel Street. Gaslight is the play's only true name.
James Benda and Emily Richardson, June 2014
3 female/ 2 male; one interior set