Imagine a performance of Shakespeare's Macbeth -- put on by a set of Playmobil toys. Or think of the two most bumbling, ordinary characters in Hamlet, and imagine what the famous tragedy would look like if written from their perspective.
Luckily, you don't have to imagine it. These creative efforts really happened. New York's Tiny Ninja Theater and Czech playwright Tom Stoppard used Shakespeare's enduring stories to make whole new pieces of art.
That was only possible because Shakespeare's plays are part of the public domain. They are truly Free Culture, available for everyone to adopt, adapt, and reinvent.
In fact, theatre is one area of the arts where free culture thrives. The public domain in the theatre is particularly rich - every year hundreds of plays, by Shakespeare, Moliere, and many more, are performed in theatres around the globe. These plays, which can be freely performed or adapted by any group of performers help to keep our culture alive, both by presenting traditional works as well as works adapted from classic and familiar plots.
Another important facet of free culture in the theatre is embodied in every decision that a director or actor makes during the production of a play. Because a play can be adapted, reshaped, and altered to a director's vision or an actor's strengths, every performance even of the most familiar shows is unique. Each participant in a play has the ability to change it, to make it their own, and this is what makes the theatre such a vital art form. If each performance of a certain play had to be exactly the same, and had no room for innovation and adaptation, the theatre would be nothing like what it is today. This is a power for participatory involvement absent in many other forms of entertainment and art - everyone involved in a show is by necessity a co-creator, instead of a mere participant.