Date of Graduation

Fall 2018


Master of Science in Education in Secondary Education in Speech and Theatre


Theatre and Dance

Committee Chair

Christopher Herr


Hollywood, playwrights, story and character, film history, golden era of Hollywood, damage done to theatre’s written art, improvement or impairment, literary assets, ownership of authorship.

Subject Categories

Acting | Applied Ethics | Art Education | Business and Corporate Communications | Business Law, Public Responsibility, and Ethics | Collective Bargaining | Comparative Philosophy | Digital Humanities | Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory | E-Commerce | Ethics and Political Philosophy | History of Philosophy | Intellectual History | International and Comparative Labor Relations | Legal | Metaphysics | Other Business | Other Classics | Other Film and Media Studies | Other Theatre and Performance Studies | Performance Management | Philosophy of Science | Playwriting | Public History | Screenwriting | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social History | Technical and Professional Writing | Television | Theatre History | Unions | United States History


Hollywood and Theatre have been partners in producing entertainment for over 100 years. The relationship was fruitful for both parties, but Hollywood moguls and playwrights battled over ownership of the work and crafting of its creative nucleus, story and character. Theatre was the dominant entertainment right before the rise of motion pictures. Once Hollywood’s talkies closed the curtain on silent films, playwrights had a high creative worth to movie makers. In the cinema, story and dialogue were essential for its survival and growth. Playwrights were courted by the Hollywood studio heads but were not offered equal partnership as they were in theatre, despite the industry’s need for their work. This thesis attempts to answer two questions: first, were theatre and its playwrights hoodwinked by Hollywood into giving their literary assets away? Second, was the movie moguls’ participation in developing plays into movies worth authorship credit equal to the playwrights’ written words? Finally, ownership of authorship is connected to a broader, more consequential matter involving proprietorship of oneself and one’s work, which continues to be an issue in today’s creative culture.


© Catherine S. Wright

Open Access