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There is no union for theatre writers. Under Federal law, playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists are considered property owners who license their work for use.
When a group of playwrights including George S. Kaufman, Moss Hart, and Eugene O’Neill gathered to form the Dramatists Guild—the nation’s first and only trade association for American theatre writers—they held one ideal paramount: copyright.
They believed that every author should maintain the legal rights to their own work. The intent was clear; in maintaining their own copyrights, authors could control the creative life of their material. They could choose their own producers, their own directors, and their own casts, and no changes could be lawfully made in production without their explicit consent.
The Dramatists Guild is committed to shepherding playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists through the business and legal standards of the industry. Have an unsigned contract you have questions about? Send it to us, and we’ll review it as part of your membership.
In order to protect a dramatist's unique vision, which has always been the strength of the theatre, you need to understand this single fundamental principle: you own and control your work. The Guild maintains a Bill of Rights to ensure ownership and control. You are not alone. You have over 100 years of standards and community behind you.
Negotiate with an understanding of what the standards are. Because the Guild tracks national and worldwide trends, we are able to provide model contracts that reflect up-to-date industry standards. We encourage playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists to use these models to educate themselves and use as a guide when entering into productions or collaborations.
In addition, to help theatre writers navigate new uses of their work, we offer a new model Livestream Addendum agreement to revise prior agreements to include such “digital rights.”
Founded in 1882, The Actors Fund is a national human services organization here to meet the needs of our entertainment community with a unique understanding of the challenges involved in a life in the arts.
Services include emergency financial assistance, affordable housing, health care and insurance counseling, senior care, secondary career development and more. As a member of the Dramatists Guild, you have access to their services.
For dramatists, seeing shows is more than just entertainment; it’s a necessity. Writers gain inspiration and inimitable knowledge by attending live performances. However, the price of theatre can be expensive.
Through Playwrights Welcome, the DG seeks to remove financial barriers that may prohibit dramatists from seeing shows When theatres participate in Playwrights Welcome, they commit to offering otherwise unsold tickets to professional playwrights free of charge.