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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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.