Royalty Plays

The Royalty Plays are a collection of over two thousand acting editions, or play scripts, given to the library by Dunedin lawyer and city councillor Maurice Joel (1911-1986).

The little-known collection of play scripts called the Royalty Plays Collection resides in a non-public stack, but each play is on the library catalogue and they may be borrowed, just like other books. Ask at the information desk on floor one of the City Library to borrow from the collection. (The format of these scripts makes them a little less robust than a bound book which is why they are not found on the public shelves.)

You can find the Royalty Plays Collection by typing DP_Plays into a general search in the library catalogue.

There are some gems in the collection, including plays by Agatha Christie, as well as adaptations of some of her novels. Other treasures in the Royalty Plays Collection are plays by writers usually known for their novels, like R. F. Delderfield.

What is a Royalty Play?

The 'Royalty' in Royalty Play has nothing to do with the Royal family, nor does it refer to plays that feature kings and queens. In the case of the library's collection of play scripts, royalty refers to the performance royalty, laid out in a licensing agreement, which is a payment required to perform a play. The royalty payment is made to the copyright owner: the playwright, or the estate of the playwright via an agent. (Some of these plays may be out of copyright, but it depends on the date of the writer's death.)

These days the New Zealand Play Bureau Ltd acts as New Zealand agent for Samuel French publishers. They license plays and a few musicals on behalf of a number of overseas publishing houses. Contact the Play Bureau if you are looking for a contemporary English language play from overseas, or if you are checking on licensing rights for performance.