November 2021

Hello dear Writers! Welcome to the fourth edition of our new monthly newsletter, Before You Sign.

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The DG Discussion
The industry conversation around 10 out 12s

As you may have noticed, many members of the theatre community have begun speaking out regarding 10 out of 12s, and sharing a related graphic on social media. There is much to discuss about this complex and nuanced issue, which impacts theatremakers throughout the industry. We therefore want to ensure that dramatists are able to be informed and active participants in this conversation.

What are 10 out of 12s?
The term “10 out of 12” refers to an Actors’ Equity union rule stating that their members cannot work more than 10 hours out of every 12 hours, especially during the final rehearsal period leading up to a show’s first performances. This rule was intended to ensure that actors received one hour off for lunch and one hour off for dinner even during very intense rehearsals, such as technical rehearsals. However, there have been unsettling reports from designers and other theatre workers indicating that they have, at times, felt pressured to work through breaks and/or to extend their hours during tech, without necessarily receiving adequate compensation. This issue seems to go beyond the stipulations of any single union and rather indicates that an unhealthy working environment has pervaded the entire industry.
Sometimes dramatists are included in their show's tech process but the 10 out of 12 rule does not technically apply to Guild members since it is an Actors’ Equity union rule. At this time, it remains unclear exactly how changes to the 10 out of 12 rehearsal schedule would impact dramatists. We hope to explore that potential impact through some of the following points and questions.

What is the current conversation around 10 out of 12s?
Even before the pandemic, some members of the theatre community expressed concern about the quality of life provided by the standard theatrical schedule of six-day work weeks and 10 out of 12s during technical rehearsals. Then, in summer 2020, the advocacy group We See You White American Theatre brought the issue more prominently and forcefully into the cultural conversation. Last month's threatened IATSE strike added to the discourse regarding the conditions under which workers in the entertainment industry are expected to toil.
Some people are stating that the 10 out of 12 schedule affords little opportunity for a healthy work/life balance to ensure time for basic needs such as rest, self-care, and family. These members of the theatre community find the tradition of 10 out 12s to be oppressive, grueling, a strain on mental health, and particularly challenging for artists from historically excluded groups (especially those who are parents/caregivers) who might lack the physical support or other resources that are necessary in order to endure the intense schedule.
And so, these theatre artists (from a variety of different organizations and unions) are currently asking for the 10 out of 12 rule to be eliminated. Instead, they are proposing an eight hour work day and a five day work weeks for all company members during rehearsals, including technical rehearsals. 

Please keep in mind that, as a trade organization, the Guild does not engage in collective bargaining. Furthermore, the collective bargaining process does not always yield what each side proposes. Unions largely exist to bargain for better working conditions and wages but even they do not always achieve everything that they desire.

Even so, a number of theatres across the country, including the Alley Theatre (Texas), Detroit Public Theatre (Michigan), The Old Globe (California), Hartford Stage (Connecticut), Steppenwolf Theatre (Illinois), the 5th Avenue Theatre (Washington), the Wilma (Pennsylvania), Two River Theatre (New Jersey), Woolly Mammoth (Washington DC ) and Ma-Yi Theater Company (New York), have already pledged to end 10 out of 12s and/or six day work weeks at their companies.
For the complete list of participating theatres, and for more information on the movement against 10 out of 12s, please visit
Before issuing a statement or an opinion, the Guild would like to embark upon a discussion of the issue that is more nuanced than is possible on social media. So, here are some of the questions that we have, as dramatists and as multi-hyphenate theatre artists:

  • The work of a dramatist transcends hourly limitations, which is why dramatists can sometimes appear to be outliers in the 10 out of 12 model. That said, if the goal of this initiative is to create more sustainable, humane conditions, with a better work/life balance for all, does that mean dramatists would be more fairly compensated for their labor and time spent both in rehearsals and doing around-the-clock rewrites to get the show ready for opening night? What other steps can theatre companies take to allow for a better work/life balance, and how would those steps include dramatists?

  • If the rehearsal period will contain the same number of hours stretched over more weeks, will this result in shorter runs and/or fewer productions per season? And will that, in turn, reduce the compensation and production opportunities for dramatists? And if this spread-out rehearsal schedule increases production costs while generating less revenue, how can theatres remain financially secure, particularly since we are still in a pandemic and live theatre is only just reopening for much of the country?

  • If shows will simply have less rehearsal time overall, how will dramatists be impacted by having less time to develop their work before audiences (and critics) show up? How will this shorter rehearsal period effect the show’s critical reputation and future licensing opportunities?

  • Would eight-hour days and five-day work weeks apply only to the rehearsal and tech/preview periods, or would this new model be implemented for performance weeks as well? If producers reduce the number of performances per week, will the compensation paid to all those working on the show be proportionately reduced?

  • What would success look like for a theatre that eliminates 10 out of 12s? Who defines success in this instance? For example, regional theatres might have multiple periods of technical rehearsals for different shows, while some Broadway shows could have one extended period of technical rehearsals and previews that goes on for months. How are theatres of all kinds finding ways to uphold their commitment to eliminating 10 out of 12s from their productions' rehearsal processes?

  • After considering the possible responses to these questions, what best practices, if any, could or should the Guild recommend to its members in regard to 10 out of 12s and six-day work weeks?

We hope to explore these questions with you, and with the industry at large, in order to spark positive and productive conversation that takes into account the views of all those who may be impacted by such industry-wide changes. Send us your questions or concerns about this issue.
From Business Affairs and the Opera Committee
Model Billing Provision 
for Opera

The Dramatists Guild has observed that opera companies in the 21st century have been trying to grow their audiences and develop their art form beyond the presentation of revivals of the established canon of works. To do so, some companies are commissioning a wider array of contemporary playwrights to write original libretti for new operas. 
Due to the ongoing efforts of the Guild, when playwrights have written the books for new stage musicals, they have been given authorial rights (including billing credit) equivalent to that of the composers and lyricists with whom they have collaborated. However, the equitable treatment of librettists is not yet a universal practice in the opera world. This disparate treatment among collaborators in the two related genres of live musical performance has led to resentment and conflict, not just with librettists, but with those composers who oppose the inequity of current practices.  
To investigate this conflict, the Guild constituted an opera committee. The committee (which included both librettists and composers) interviewed writers, producers, publishers, managers, and others working in the field, and it studied a wide range of contractual relationships, in order to understand current standards. The committee hopes this information will ultimately aid opera companies in attracting new playwrights and in treating current librettists in a more equitable way. Such changes would be benefit for the sake of librettists and composers, as well as for the future of the genre.

  • Principle: The Composer and Librettist of an opera are artists and collaborators, working in a field where billing credit impacts careers, and so, therefore, both are entitled to appropriate and equivalent billing credit whenever the opera is being promoted.

  • Best Practice: When a new opera is created, the company (including its general directors, artistic directors, company managers, marketing people, and anyone else involved in the promotion of the work) will ensure that both composers and librettists are properly credited in all related materials, and the company will enter into contracts with composers and librettists that will so provide.

  • Sample Contract Language: In order to put the principle into practice, composers and librettists will need to include language in their contracts with the producing company. Attached, via the button below, is a sample billing provision that can be customized to your particular circumstances and either inserted into a contract or added later by addendum.
The Opera Issue (Vol. 24 No. 2, Nov/Dec 2021)
Are you Opera-Curious? 

This first (but not the last) edition of The Dramatist dedicated to writing opera has been shaped by guest editors Mark Campbell and Michael Korie to offer some insight to opera-curious dramatists about music composition and libretti writing.

While this isn’t a comprehensive guide for first-timers, it does attempt to dispel some of the mystery around the opera world, and it encourages dramatists to learn more about this area of the theatre industry.

by Mark Campbell

by Michael Korie

with Deborah Brevoort, David Henry Hwang, E.M. Lewis, Mark Campbell, Sandra C Seaton, and Stephanie Fleischmann

with Lila Palmer, Nicolas Lell Benavides, Paola Prestini, Scott Davenport Richards, Kamala Sankaram, Stephen Schwartz, and Huang Ruo

by Ralph Sevush
Listen to the DG Podcast: The Dramatists Guild presents TALKBACK
Shall We Collaborate?

“In Season Three of TALKBACK, we take great delight in speaking about collaboration - especially after spending so much time apart over the past year and a half,” explains TALKBACK host, DG Treasurer and DEI Committee Chair, Christine Toy Johnson.

“As our industry endeavors to find more meaningful ways to make space for artists from historically excluded communities, it’s been inspiring to see how art makers across the country have brought innovation, compassion, and renewed insight into their work. I know that we are just in the middle of the beginning of building the theatre we want to see -- and I’m so proud of the many ways the Guild is here for it.” 
New Guild Staff
Two New Additions to our Business Advice Services Team

The Guild is delighted to introduce two new members of the Business Affairs department, our new associate Ginnila Pérez, and our BA consultant Yuanxiao Xu, a West Coast-based attorney, to help us respond to member queries on the Help Desk. "We look forward to their contributions to Team BA,” says Ralph Sevush, Executive Director of Business Affairs. 

Ginnila Pérez, our new Business Affairs Associate, is excited to work with everyone at the Guild. She previously worked in Visitor and Member Services at El Museo Del Barrio and The National 9/11 Memorial & Museum. She is a registered EMT and loves art, coffee, and building things with her hands.  

Yuanxiao Xu is our new Consultant of Business Affairs. Previously, she worked as a Copyright Specialist at the University of Michigan. Yuanxiao received her undergraduate degree in English Literature from Rhodes College (Memphis, TN) and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School. She is licensed to practice law in New York. 
DG Webinars
Member Events
Dramatists Guild National Silent Writing


Registration is now open for all December dates. How does it work?

With evenings, mornings, weekdays, and weekend slots all available, simply find a time slot that fits your schedule, register, and sign in to write silently, in community with others, all across the nation.

Dramatists are welcome to register for any time slot of their choosing. The sessions are only organized by region to show who will be moderating during that period of time.
DGI Presents: DuoLogues 2.0

December 2 and 7

The Guild's DuoLogues seminar series was established to share craft, industry knowledge, and theatrical insights with the DG membership through collaborative conversations, rather than through standard interviews. Originally founded in 2007 by Tari Stratton, who currently serves as Director of the Dramatists Guild Institute, these DuoLogues pair one wonderful writer with another wonderful writer for free flowing discussions. 

A Virtual Conversation with Doug Wright
and Franky Gonzalez

Thursday, December 2

Eastern Time: 6pm – 7:30pm
Central Time: 5pm – 6:30pm
Mountain Time: 4pm– 5:30pm
Pacific Time: 3pm – 4:30pm
A Virtual Conversation with Kia Corthron
and Chisa Hutchinson

Tuesday, December 7

Eastern Time: 6pm – 7:30pm
Central Time: 5pm – 6:30pm
Mountain Time: 4pm– 5:30pm
Pacific Time: 3pm – 4:30pm
Inclusion Rider Webinar for Theatres, Producers, and Agents

December 14

Inclusion in Practice: Steps You Can Take Toward Fostering Meaningful Diversity in a Production Process

Eastern Time: 6:30pm - 8pm
Central Time: 5:30pm - 7pm
Mountain Time: 4:30pm - 6pm
Pacific Time: 3:30pm - 5pm

Dramatists, we invite you to share the following information about our upcoming inclusion event for agents, managers, artistic directors, and producers with the theatrical artists in your community. This event is specifically tailored for that audience.

Calling all agents, managers, artistic directors, and producers! Learn how the Dramatists Guild's new inclusion rider can be beneficial to you in your own DEI work. 

Join us for a conversation on how the Guild's inclusion rider can help you to take impactful steps towards bringing more diversity into your production process and to think creatively about how to put the value of inclusion into practice. 

At this webinar, facilitators will introduce the Inclusion Rider to agents, managers, artistic directors, and producers. They'll share the reasons for its creation and suggest ways in which it can be applied to your own theatrical spaces. A Q&A will also take place.
Dear Business Affairs
We want you to be informed, educated, and well-equipped when you navigate the business side of theatre. There are so many questions that writers have about this industry; we want to bring those questions and answers directly to you. Dear Business Affairs will feature DG members' most pressing questions, answered by staff in our BA department. 
Question: Does the Guild have a model agreement for working with translators?

YES! Our form agreement is meant to provide an outline of the basic terms commonly found in agreements where a commissioning party (be it a playwright or a producer) wishes to have a work translated into another language. This agreement covers only the creation of the translation. Any third-party (including a commissioning producer) looking to produce the translation must acquire a license from the playwright. 

We acknowledge that, at times, translators initiate projects and seek to retain the copyright in the translation they create, along with the right to produce the translation. If you find yourself in this situation, please call our office to see how you might modify this agreement. Keep in mind that this agreement was crafted with US law and industry standard in mind. Should you be engaged with a translator or producer overseas, we would suggest consulting with your personal attorney. 
Need Business Advice? The Business Affairs Help Desk is DG's support portal that allows us to answer your business related questions more quickly and efficiently. You can submit a query, or request a contract review, via our ticketing system. 
The DG Glossary
We are writers; what we love to do write! Second to that, we might love rehearsing in the room with performers or getting to see our work fully realized and produced.

However, as writers, we will inevitably have to deal with the non-creative, not-so-fun, but very essential part of our industry-- the business. We might come across some complicated looking terms, such as subsidiary rights, copyrights, or collaboration agreement.

What do these terms mean, and why do we need to know them? The DG Glossary will be your handy go-to guide on important terms that every writer of the theatre should know.
Author Billing

In the entertainment industry, the term “billing” refers to how the people who worked on a show are given credit for their contributions. For artists who make their living on their names and reputations, billing is an important form of compensation. In some industries, credits can directly impact financial compensation; in others, the impact may be indirect but it is still critical. 
In the theatre, customary billing credit for the author requires the following:

  • No one may receive billing larger or more prominent than the author, except for stars billed above the title and the name of the theatre;

  • No one may receive billing as large as the author, except for the director;

  • No one may receive billing above the title, except for stars and producers;

  • The font size of the author’s billing is typically 50% of the size used for the non-logo title and at least 25%-30% of a logo title;

  • The author's name is listed directly below the title, on a line by itself;

  • The author’s name should be included in the billing in all theatre programs, house boards, posters, cast albums, souvenir programs, and any and all paid advertising and publicity issued by, authorized by, or under the producer’s control, and whenever the director or producer of the show are otherwise included in the billing.  
The author’s billing is often subject to certain customary exclusions, including:

  • The author need not receive billing in directory advertising (e.g. “ABC’s,” except Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday ABC’s in The New York Times); or wherever only the title of the Play and the name and address of the theatre in which the Work is being presented appears; 

  • In paid print advertising that is less than ¼ of a page; 

  •  In other paid advertising and publicity in which only the title of the Work, names of stars billed above the title, the name of the theatre, critics’ quotes, and/or ticket price scales appear;

  • In the use of quotations from published reports or critics’ reviews in advertising or other publicity;

  • In advertising or publicity announcing “Tony Awards” or similar organizations according special recognition to any individual, if the individual is the nominee or recipient of an individual award; provided, however, that if the Work is nominated for or receives an award for Best [Play][Musical and/or Score], the author will get billed as required in any award, congratulatory, or nomination ads with respect to such advertisements.  
In addition to exclusions, a producer may want to use a “billing box” (where everyone’s billing is inside a box, except for stars above the title) and then the size of the author’s billing is based on the non-logo title used in the box. They may also ask for “run-on billing” or “movie-style billing,” where everyone (other than stars) gets equal billing in a continuous line, but this form of billing should be resisted, if possible. 

The reason this style is used in the film industry is because everyone there is an employee doing work for hire. In the theatre, authors have no benefits other than that which they can negotiate for themselves, but the one thing they do have is ownership and control over their work, and that gives dramatists the power to withhold approval for such a credit. If the producer wants to pay your health insurance, and make contributions to your pension or 401(k), and collectively bargain other minimum terms, like they do for everybody else listed on the program, then they can treat your billing equally to those others. But until then…
The author also has a right to certain “exclusions”. Though the author will have to grant approval over their name, likeness, and biography to be used in the general promotion of the work, they should try to retain approval rights with regard to the use on merchandise (i.e., “Commercial Use Products”), or at least over the category of merchandise, and its use should never imply an author’s endorsement of any product or service.
In addition to billing, authors should receive an approved biography in the program (including playbills and souvenir programs) if the director or producer receives a biography, placed in first position after the cast.
If you get these provisions into your contract, it is no small thing if the producer breaches their billing obligations. As we said, billing is a form of compensation and cannot be ignored. The failure to give proper billing constitutes a “material breach” of a production contract that must be cured promptly by the producer after receiving written notice of the breach from the author.

Need Business Advice? The Business Affairs Help Desk is DG's support portal that allows us to answer your business related questions more quickly and efficiently. You can submit a query, or request a contract review, via our ticketing system.