The Legacy Issue

Vol. 25 No. 3

The Legacy Issue

Theatre writers own their work. Know your rights before you sign a contract. 


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. KaufmanMoss 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. 



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.”



End of Play Craft Workshop
Mar 20, 2023

DG Announces FREE Writing Workshops for End of Play.®

Community Event
Mar 15, 2023

Words, Words, Words: The Dramatists Guild of America at Goodspeed's Festival of New Musicals

DG and NCAC Protest the Cancellation of Carroll High School's Production of Marian: The True  Tale of Robin Hood  by Adam Szymkowicz
Mar 08, 2023

DG and NCAC Protest the Cancellation of Carroll High School's Production of "Marian: The True Tale of Robin Hood" by Adam Szymkowicz

How are writers paid?
Mar 08, 2023

The Dramatists Guild Of America Invites All Theatre Writers To Join Its First Ever Compensation Study

Mar 07, 2023

Take the MusiCares' Annual Wellness in Music Survey

Stay informed with Member News

Photo of a smiling bald man wearing a plaid button-up shirt with collar
Mar 16, 2023

Cast and Crew Announced for East West Players’ Production of On This Side of the World

Selfie of three men in a recording studio
Mar 16, 2023

The Year After: A Song Cycle Album Release March 24, 2023

monochrome collage using headshots from four dramatists
Mar 14, 2023

Recipients Announced for the 2023 Richard Rodgers Award

Photo of three people sitting in theatre seats
Mar 14, 2023

PlayPenn Expands 2023 Programming to Support More Local Playwrights

Image containing twelve small headshots of playwrights
Mar 09, 2023

Great Plains Theatre Commons Announces 2023 New Play Conference Playwrights

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.

Two Good Dogs 'Dare to Dream' Play Festival

March 30

Clauder Competition for New England Playwrights

March 31

Ridgedale One Act Festival

March 31

Creative Capital Award

March 31

24 Hour Plays: Nationals

March 31

Illuminating New Voices New Works Festival

March 31

Fade To Black Play Festival

April 01

Red Bull Theater Short New Play Festival

April 03

Playwrights Cohort

April 04

Stonecoast Review

April 05


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.