It’s all a little but fuzzy, but my memory is, back when I joined, in 1999, you had to be invited, or at least invited to be an active member, which I desperately wanted to be. I remember getting the letter inviting me to join in the mail from the Guild, when my debut play Adam Baum and the Jew Movie was running at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre on Broadway and West 76th street, and having the feeling that I was finally part of the community I had dreamed of being part of since my parents took me to my first Broadway show (Barnum) when I was six.
When I was a student at Juilliard, Marsha Norman and Chris Durang often spoke to us of the importance of joining the Guild. They were both actively involved, not only on council, but officers, and spoke passionately about how the Guild was fighting on our behalf, whether we were members or not. Something else that surprised me, was that the Guild only took a percentage of your earnings if you were on Broadway. Off Broadway, off-off Broadway, and regional productions got all the same protections and benefits, but it only cost you some of your earnings if you had a show running on Broadway. That a few dramatists were subsidizing all of our rights to maintain ownership of our work as artists was incredibly moving to me. It seemed more than fair, it seemed honorable.
So when the invitation came, I jumped at the chance to join. And also to pull my weight – to try and learn about everything the Guild does, to volunteer my time and get myself on committees, to devour The Dramatist every other month, and to preach the gospel to my students. The Guild’s mission and membership has expanded in the most magnanimous way. It’s proactively creating change and inclusiveness in a way that it hasn’t in the past. What it does and what it fights for at its core is more important than ever.
With each year, I grow prouder to be part of this community, the one I had dreamed of being a part of as a kid, but really had no idea just how special it was. Being a member of the Guild is an imperative part in identifying as a dramatist.