The Young Dramatists Issue 1
Dramatist’s Bill of Rights: Billing Credit

Playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists often struggle professionally in theatres due to the wide-ranging demands and expectations imposed on them by their producers (and other collaborators). It is essential, therefore, that dramatists know their rights, which the Dramatists Guild established in 1926 and has defended ever since.

To protect their unique vision, which has always been the strength of the theatre, dramatists need to understand this fundamental principle: you own and control your work. To ensure this 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. Collectively, we call these ten basic points the Dramatist’s Bill of Rights.

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6. Billing Credit

I live in the world of plays, musical theatre, and opera, and proper billing credit is essential to underscore the value of our work across all three genres. Production agreements and collaboration agreements should specify how the parties are credited in terms of font size, location of credit vis à vis the title of the work (ideally, right below the title in a font not less than 50% of the title font), and the order of names (side by side and vertically) when there is more than one writer. With multiple writers, these agreements should provide that all writers must be credited equally in terms of size, boldness, and prominence of type, and at no time should any writer’s name appear without the other(s) in matters relating directly or indirectly to grand performing rights, small performing rights, and subsidiary rights. Writers must be vigilante to ensure that producers properly credit them in all programs, publicity, and marketing, digital included. Crediting the librettist in opera is of particular concern because traditionally the librettist was not credited equally with the composer. Opera is not opera without words or without music, so the writers must be credited together—always. (See DG’s campaign: #CreditTheLibrettist).

Joan Ross Sorkin
Joan Ross Sorkin

(Librettist, lyricist, playwright). Opera: Strange Fruit; White Witch; The Reef. Musicals: Black Swan Blues; Monet; In The Theatre; The Real McCoy; Dandelion; Isabelle and The Pretty-Ugly Spell; Go Green! Plays: (mis)Understanding Mammy (Drama Desk nom., Capathia Jenkins); others (NYC/regional). Member: Dramatists Guild, BMI Musical Theatre Workshop, ASCAP, Opera America.