Luther’s Idris Elba has dismissed accusations of plagiarism from two former writers on his play Tree, after the pair claimed they had been “pushed off” the project following four years of work and experienced “intimidation and disrespect”.
Tree currently bills Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah as creators, but on Tuesday Tori Allen-Martin and Sarah Henley published a blog post claiming that they had written the first script and come up with the play’s title, but were later dismissed, without credit for their work, and faced “legal action if we spoke up”.
“There is no way it’s a ‘different project’, no matter how much it’s changed,” the pair stated. “And the reluctance to take any accountability for the fact that until we fought it, the majority of the revised synopsis was our work, just without our names on it, is at best sad and at worst, disgusting.”
However, Elba has since disputed Allen-Martin and Henley’s claims, writing on Twitter: “We wanted to offer an opportunity to support these new writers while creating a piece of work of scale and to a director’s vision.
“The outcome is an accusation of plagiarism and discrimination. However frustrating this has been for all, we will continue to offer opportunities and to support the next generation of writers and talent.”
The Turn Up Charlie actor added that Allen-Martin and Henley “decided they didn’t want to pursue the early thoughts and declined to work any further on the project. This is not uncommon in the development process.
“They expressed their reasoning and we respected their decision. We were left without any writers and had to start work very quickly.”
Allen-Martin and Henley’s names are included in the foreword to the programmes printed for the play’s Manchester preview.