Art & Activism

Vol. 25 No. 5

Cover of the Art & Activism

Unlike writers for film, television and streaming, theatre writers own the work they create


Playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists are independent contractors. Independent contractors are not allowed to unionize, as we are considered property owners who license our work for others to use. In order to protect a dramatist's unique vision, which has always been the strength of the theatre, you need to understand a single fundamental truth: you own and control your work

The Dramatists Guild is committed to shepherding playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists through every stage of their careers by providing community, advocacy, contract reviews and professional development to aspiring and professional dramatists working in the United States.  

When a group of playwrights including George S. KaufmanMoss Hart, and Eugene O’Neill gathered to form the Dramatists Guild over 100 years ago—the nation’s first and only trade association for American theatre writers—they held one ideal paramount: maintaining control over one's intellectual property

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.

To ensure ownership and control, the Guild recommends that any production involving a dramatist incorporate a written agreement in which both the producer and the writer acknowledge certain key industry standards, known as The Dramatist's Bill of Rights

Have an unsigned contract you have questions about? Send it to us, and we’ll review it as part of your membership. It's important you know your rights before you sign any contract in order to protect your labor and your copyright.

You are not alone. You have over 100 years of community, advocacy, and best practices behind you.



Cover DG Model Contract

Access live stream, Broadway, industry contracts, and best practices.


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.”



Artist as CEO
Sep 16, 2023

Calling All Students! Register for The Artist as CEO: Student Theatre Writers Workshop on October 7 and 8

DGCM Estate Resources
Sep 12, 2023

Join DG Copyright Management for National Estate Planning Awareness Week from October 16 to October 20

Community Event
Sep 12, 2023

Join the Dramatists Guild at EDtA's Theatre Education Conference in Florida from September 27 - October 1

Healthcare Resources
Sep 13, 2023

Every Theatre Writer Insured! Two Free Webinars on Healthcare Options for Dramatists

Playwrights Welcome
Sep 13, 2023

54 Below Joins Playwrights Welcome Program!

Stay informed with Member News

Martyna Majok and Rajiv Joseph
Sep 19, 2023

Sun Valley Playwright’s Residency Fall 2023 Programming to include Martyna Majok and Rajiv Joseph

JP Haynes
Sep 13, 2023

Viola Ford Fletcher Foundation Announces Development of Black Wall Street the Musical, Commissions JP Haynes

Tarell Alvin McCraney
Sep 12, 2023

Tarell Alvin McCraney Named Geffen Playhouse Artistic Director

Monochromatic photo graphics illustrating three different plays
Sep 08, 2023

The Pool Plays 3.0 Announces Casting

A painterly rendering of a white woman with shoulder-length blonde hair, bangs parted on the right side of her head. She has blue eyes and looks directly at the viewer.
Aug 30, 2023

Conversation with Tina Howe

Stay informed with The Dramatist
Resource Directory

Find the right submission opportunity to support your work in our Resource Directory.


Submitting your play or musical is as necessary as finishing it. But the process of finding the right submission opportunity is work. This is why, for more than 20 years, the Dramatists Guild has compiled a submissions and opportunities database, and published an online directory of theatres, agents, festivals, contests, workshops, retreats, and other submission opportunities to help make the life of the dramatist a little easier. Let the Dramatists Guild simplify and expedite your submission strategy with our database of deadlines and resources.

Obsidian Theatre Festival

September 22

Nectar New Works

September 25

The Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers

September 29

Emerging Artists Residency

September 30

International Human Rights Art Festival (IHRAF)

October 01

The Lanford Wilson New American Play Festival

October 01

The New Harmony Project Conference

October 02

Flint Repertory Theatre New Works Festival

October 31

The NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theatre

November 01

Premiere Stages at Kean University

November 01


Get the latest submissions deadlines.

Write. Edit. Format. All are equally important.

Formatting your script correctly can mean the difference between making it to the next round of a writing competition or having your work disregarded. While playwriting is more liberal with form, there are industry standards that every dramatist needs to know. The DG provides members with a database of the most commonly used script formats, completely free.


A full suite of career services to enrich, inspire, and empower writers.


Being a part of the DG community is more than just access to legal help. From perks like free theatre to money-saving deals on necessities like writing software, members of the DG gain access to a long and ever-growing list of benefits. Additionally, your Guild membership allows you to receive benefits from other industry organizations like The Actors Fund.



The Actors Fund

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.


Playwrights Welcome

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.


Devised Theatre

The Dramatists Guild is thrilled to extend our services and community to Devised Theatre professionals through the launch of our new Devised Theatre resources page.

We now offer four contract models explicitly designed for Devised Theatre, and a Devised Theatre Resource Manual, which includes an explanation of legal principles, discussions about craft, a glossary of terms, and much more. Our Business Affairs Help Desk is open for members who may have questions about our Devised Theatre resources.


We advance together. Explore and engage with a community of writers.


At its core, the Dramatists Guild is about building a community of playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists who support each other at all levels of their professional careers. DG Community Resources are available for members to build bridges and create partnerships. Our website features ways to contact your regional rep, find a collaborator, and much much more.