Theatre managers around New Zealand are "dismayed" by pirated copies of their performances appearing on the streets- often before the work has even premiered. "They must sneak into the $15 previews," one representative of a Wellington theatre said, "and so outside on the footpath there are these cheap knock-offs for sale which are inferior in every way. Its dismaying."
The "ripped" performances undermine legitimate theatre's profits by drastically undercutting ticket prices. However, as the plays are performed entirely from the memory of one performance, the quality is markedly inferior. One bystander, who asked not to be named, described a "rip" of Circa's My First Time: "they got the intonations and general blocking right, but heaps of the lines had been learned wrong, bits were missing- and the motivations were shakey." However, having paid a mere $2.50 for the experience, he admitted he wouldn't fork out for the theatrical version; "what would be the point? I feel sorry for the actors if they lose money, but frankly I don't have the spare cash to be scrupulous at the moment." He added that he never pirated New Zealand plays.
In spite of the threat posed by performance piracy, theatre owners are confident the superior quality of plays performed in theatres will keep punters coming back for the real thing. "We've got lighting, seating and protection from the elements, which is more than you’ll get on some dirty footpath. There's no substitute for actually being there. Sooner or later, people are going to realise what they're missing out on."