The why I joined is simple: I wrote a play. And when you write a play and all the sirens start screaming and you realize you have finally found the creative writing outlet your muse has spent far too long seeking, you are a playwright. And if you’re a playwright, you join the Dramatists Guild because to be the best you are capable of at anything, you surround yourself with like-minded people, the best like-minded people, so that you have a community to share with and learn from and be inspired by. My journey as a playwright began the day I joined the Guild.
So now, ten years later, perhaps the greater question, particularly in the face of any “Why should I join the Guild?” nonsense, is why I stayed with the Guild. The Dramatists Guild is so many things playwrights need: professionals who have your back, sound advice, monthly inspiration, community, service, submission resources, advocacy… But none of these is why I stay.
People point to practical reasons, like when I had no idea what to do with three international production requests I received in one week and the Guild referred me to an international agent who handled them all and continues to because one of them is still running, five years later. That’s just one example of how the Guild serves you any time you say, “I don’t know what to do about…” This is important stuff, a wonderful reason to join, but not the reason I stay. And I don’t stay because of the amazing people I’ve met, or the positive committee work I’ve done, or even for the fancy black membership card.
I stay because I fell in love with the Guild and everything it stands for.
The Dramatists Guild is working for you every minute. Every time you sign a contract, the Guild is there. Every time you sit in a rehearsal room, the Guild is there. Every time there’s egregious exploitation, the Guild is there. If you identify as a playwright, you don’t join the Guild for what it can do for you; you join for what it has done for you already. You join because you believe in the Guild and your duty to support their continuing efforts to stand behind ALL playwrights, whether or not they are members. That’s why I stay. The rest is gravy.