Those of you who have thrilled to the successful 2011 Disney financed, British-American, 3D computer-animated, fantasy, romantic-comedy family film: Gnomeo & Juliet may not know that it is loosely based on an obscure little American musical called West Side Story, which in turn uses as its foundation a little-known play by someone called William Shakespeare.

Will named his scrappy little play Romeo and Juliet – obviously a blatant rip-off of Disney’s brilliant title. But before you start thinking that we should salute Will for his small contribution to our modern times you should know that he, in turn, ripped his characters from the Roman poet Ovid, whose story Metamorphoses features Pyramus and Thisbē – a pair of ill-fated lovers. Does that plot ring a bell? Yep – straight outta Disney!

But seriously – look at how these themes are reincarnated over and over again. Just when you think a story is dead – its ghost breathes life into a ‘new’ tale.

Here’s how you can climb on board the metempsychosis gravy train:

  • Death. Make sure the original author is long dead
  • Money. Ensure that the prototype made loads of moolah
  • Fame. It’s fab if lots and lots of people liked the story you’re copying.

And that’s it really. So long as you follow these simple rules – the town’s your oyster (or something like that)!

Write on!!