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. Kaufman, Moss 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.
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.