In his 1983 book, The Gift, Lewis Hyde argues that an artist’s works are not commodities but gifts, and given the “irreconcilable conflict between gift exchange and the market … the artist in the modern world must suffer a constant tension.” Joe Penhall’s 2018 play, Mood Music, dramatizes such a conflict. It’s about a young U.K.-based singer who is taken to court by her producer, who credits himself with writing her hit single and is suing for possession of and profits from the track. The play raises questions about the commercialization of art—who owns a song?—and the concept of the auteur: is the actress, for example, or the director responsible for a production’s genius? The hit show is free to stream through mid July. —C.J.F.
Old Vic Theatre The Cut, South Bank, London SE1 8NB, UK Get Directions »