What Does “Your Pen. Our Sword.” Mean To You? by Sue Fabisch
I wish I had known about the Dramatists Guild before I needed them. By the time I joined, things with lawyers and producers had already spiraled out of control and there was no turning back. I emailed the Business Affairs attorneys on a regular basis, but the documents had already been signed and there was nothing we could do but wait it out.
I was thousands of dollars in debt to my attorney and my show was in legal limbo, hence limiting my income.
So, I wrote other shows and was offered another deal with another producer. After I saw his contract for the first time, I knew that this was not going to be a happy relationship. I presented to him a Guild contract and only allowed a one-production license, which made him furious. But I didn’t care. I was willing to have nothing, rather than be tortured again.
Life moved on. I was about to turn 50. My kids were growing up. They were all teenagers and the emotional toll of that was harder than showbiz (trust me on this). I decided that they needed me more than musical theatre needed me, and I put all my shows away. I figured I had been there, done that, and it wasn’t any fun. And nothing was happening anyway. I let my membership to the Guild expire.
Then I got a call out of the blue from an agency that wanted to license my show. I Googled them and found out they were legit! We chatted. They were nice! They were kind! They were…certainly different than anyone else I’d worked with in this industry. They said they’d send over a contract, and I knew it would define our relationship. I had so much experience reading contracts that one look would tell me whether this would be good or bad.
The contract came and it was nice! It was kind! And EVERY SINGLE thing that had been an issue in my original contract was actually CLEARLY defined without me having to ask for it! I quickly rejoined the Dramatists Guild.
I sent the contract to Deborah Murad and waited. She emailed back with a small list of things to change. I sent it to the agency with my own small list of tweaks, and they changed everything to accommodate me.
The only attorney I used to ink this deal was Deborah from the Dramatists Guild. It did not cost me thousands of dollars and ten-plus months of my life. There was no heartache. It was nice. It was kind. And I’m telling you, with three teenagers under my roof, that’s all I can handle right now.
Thank you so much, Dramatists Guild, for everything you do.
SUE FABISCH is the author (book, music, lyrics) of Motherhood the Musical, which has played across the US, Scotland, and in a two-year tour around Australia (twice!). Other shows include the musical David Michael Finkelstein’s Bar Mitzvah, the children’s musical Poppy’s Pizza Palace, and a brand new two-woman comedy Me & My Smother. An award-winning songwriter for other artists, her songs have reached the #1 spot on Radio Disney. Formerly from New Jersey, Sue has three kids (four if you count her husband) and lives in Nashville. For more information, visit www.MommyMusic.com.