DLDF: Dear Friends of Free Expression

The Dramatists Guild created the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund to advocate and to educate, and to provide you with a new resource in defense of the First Amendment and on behalf of a robust public domain.

Man is silenced with adhesive red tape across his mouth sealed to prevent him from speaking. Freedom Concept.
Artwork by DG Creative

From cuts in arts funding and art education, to proposed legislation by many states attempting to restrict political protest, to tweets attempting to undermine the legitimacy of the press, governmental hostility to free expression has not reached such a fevered pitch in recent memory. One step we urge you to take right now to fight back is to support the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund.

The DLDF was established by the Dramatists Guild of America to act in defense of free expression in the dramatic arts. We advocate not only for playwrights, but for theaters and other theater artists (as well as audiences, schools, students, and the culture at large), all of whom are confronting censorship and other related issues of public import. This aid and advocacy has taken the form of letters, articles, and lectures in public fora and educational events, as well as intervention in litigation through amicus briefs and expert testimony, and providing pro bono representation for those caught up in these disputes.

Among its efforts in the past two years, the DLDF has:

Written and co-sponsored amicus briefs in support of issues affecting playwrights, including the Jersey Boys case, which was finally won by the authors;

Co-produced a new version of “Banned Together,” in collaboration with the Guild’s Political Engagement Committee, in the form of two panels of noted scholars and playwrights discussing the exclusion and silencing of writers of color, both in the past and in the present;

Formed a working group of teachers, scholars, and advocates to explore cases where students have forced cancellations of productions on campuses including works like The Adding Machine, Parade, and The Foreigner. The group is analyzing case studies in order to generate guidelines and best practices for school administrators, students, educators and municipalities on developing processes that support free expression and academic freedom while giving marginalized communities the opportunities to be heard;

Arranged, in coordination with Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, for attorneys and law firms to provide pro bono representation to indigent dramatists dealing with legal issues related to their work, and for other dramatists dealing with issues of free expression, copyright and theater-related matters of public import; and

Co-authored letters with the National Coalition Against Censorship in support of individuals and institutions which have been the targets of attempts to muzzle free speech on both sides of the political aisle.

The DLDF will be ramping up its efforts to meet challenges which we expect to arise in the current, unsettled climate. Now, more than ever, it’s time to act. So, join the fight and make a tax-deductible donation to the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund … because words matter.

Board of Directors,
Dramatists Legal Defense Fund

Ralph Sevush, Esq.

is an entertainment attorney. He’s been with the Dramatists Guild of America since 1997, and their Co-Executive Director and general counsel since June 2005. He is the Treasurer for the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund.