Frequently asked questions…

What constitutes an ‘amateur performance’?

An amateur performance is presented by a company or group whose time is given free of charge. Those involved are not paid a contracted salary and do not earn their living solely from acting, directing, producing. ‘Profit share’ and ‘semi-professional’ companies are classed as amateur productions.

There are exceptions; when performing on the London Fringe Theatre circuit, the ‘class’ of the venue (ie. where it would appear in a listings magazine such as Time Out) means a fringe licence based on a box office percentage is more appropriate, and more economical for the company – particularly if you’re planning a long run. For more information look under FRINGE LICENCES.

How much will it cost?

For amateur performances, the royalty fee payable is based on a fixed amount per show (plus VAT where applicable). Concessions are granted in view of venue size.

But I’m not charging an admission fee, do I still have to pay?

Yes. A licence is needed for a public performance irrespective of whether audiences are paying to watch or not.

But only family and friends will be going, do I still have to pay?

Yes. If the audience have to leave their homes to see the show this constitutes a public performance.

I’m only doing a bit of the play – do I have to pay for that?

Yes. You need to have an extract licence – a fee is charged appropriate to the length of piece performed. It must be made clear to any audience that the play is not being performed in its entirety. A blackout or similar device must delineate each extract performed.

Is there anything I can do for free?

Yes. Plays only remain in copyright (ie. you must pay a fee to perform them) during the life of the author and, in most parts of the world, for an additional period of up to 70 years after their death – hence the popularity of Shakespeare!

I’ve just seen a great play in the West End and want to do it now!

Amateur rights are generally unavailable (or at least restricted) if a copyright show is enjoying a first class professional run. Always check the availability of any play with the Author’s agent or with an organisation such as Samuel French Ltd before making any plans.

Any further questions can be emailed to