The cover of The Age Issue of The Dramatist. An illustration of two sets of hands, one older and one younger, playing piano side by side.
Emily Mann: Why I Joined the Guild
Portrait of Emily Mann by Dan Romer for The Dramatist
Emily Mann by Dan Romer for The Dramatist

I joined the Dramatists Guild because Edward Albee told me to. And if any of you know Edward, you can imagine that as a young writer, I hung on his every word. I remember he said: “Every American playwright should be a member of the DG if he or she has any self-respect.” He looked me piercingly in the eye with a malicious grin, encouraging and testing me at the same time. I remember he told me the names of some of the playwrights who were members and simply imagining being listed in the company of these giants gave me more self-respect than I could ever imagine having at that time.

He also knew that the issue of owning my own work was paramount in my mind, having spent too much time paying the rent by writing for television and losing some of my best work after the executive who hired me for the job left the network. “Playwrights own their own work,” said Edward, “but will only continue to do so if we band together.” I have been a passionate Dramatists Guild member for 35 years.

Photo of Emily Mann
Emily Mann

is Artistic Director/Resident Playwright at the McCarter Theatre. Plays include Having Our Say; Execution of Justice; Still Life; Mrs. Packard; Gloria (Steinem) Live at Lincoln Center. Adaptations: Scenes from a Marriage, Uncle Vanya, Cherry Orchard, A Seagull in the Hamptons, House of Bernarda Alba. Favorite awards: Hull Warriner, NAACP, Margo Jones, Helen Merrill, Peabody Awards.