Before You Sign
April 2023
Dramatizing Money
The first line of one of the most famous financial guides reads, “Bansir, the chariot builder of Babylon, was thoroughly discouraged.” If you’ve read The Richest Man in Babylon, you’ll recognize the line immediately, but even if you haven’t, you’ll likely recognize the feeling of being “thoroughly discouraged.” It is a thoroughly discouraging time, in a thoroughly discouraging industry, with some thoroughly discouraging financial realities.

And yet we continue, despite being thoroughly discouraged. Why? Because the work we do matters. In the following paragraphs, we hope to help you feel a little less discouraged by answering some common financial questions that come up for dramatists throughout their careers. We can’t eliminate some of the challenges. But we can help them seem a bit less challenging. After all, you can do this. Just like Bansir.

What Should I Be?

The root of this question is practical, not philosophical (at least in an article about money). In the context of a dramatist’s career, it relates to entity type: the type of business structure they choose to house their professional income and expenses.

As you make your choice (a choice, by the way, that can change over time), you’ll want to consider a few things: (1) who is involved in the business, (2) how much time and money you have to devote to forming the entity, (3) whether you want or need built-in liability protection, and (4) the tax implications of your choice.

The major choices (from simplest to most complex) are sole proprietorship (one person doing business for themself), limited liability company (one or more people who formed a company together with built-in liability protection), or S corporation (a slightly more complex entity formed by one or more people with built-in liability protection and some potential tax benefits). There are some newer options in some states for socially conscious entities as well, like L3Cs or B Corporations (plus ways of getting those benefits through a certification program instead), but generally they build off the three main choices: sole proprietorship, LLC, and S Corporation.
20 Financial Terms Every Dramatist Should Know
There are an infinite number of financial terms you may have encountered. Here are ten common ones you should probably know.

Theatre Industry Terms 
Commission Fee  
Gross Weekly Box Office Receipts 
Net Profits 
Option Fees 
Per Diem 
Production Expenses/Operating Expenses 
Weekly Breakeven 
Standard Accounting Terms

Self-Employment Tax
Income Tax 
Deductible Business Expense (Taxes) 
Deductible (Insurance) 
Mutual Fund 
Individual Retirement Account (IRA) 
Career Training
How to Adapt Existing Material for the Stage
Thursday, May 4

ADT: 4:30pm
EDT/AST: 3:30pm
CDT: 2:30pm
MDT: 1:30pm
PDT/MST: 12:30pm
AKDT: 11:30am
HST: 9:30am
How do I adapt my favorite story or film for the stage? What do I need to know about underlying rights and copyright in order to make sure that my work can be produced?

In this conversation with Dramatists Guild staff and attorneys, you'll learn everything you need to know about underlying rights so that you can successfully adapt pre-existing material for the stage. Discover what falls under the category of an adaptation, how to find out if work is in the public domain, how billing and compensation work for adaptations, and more!
New Videos added to the Career Training and Craft Video Archive!

DG members can peruse tutorials crafted by fellow dramatists and industry experts, via our Craft and Career Training Webinar Archive. These video discussions bring theatre professionals directly to your computer, phone, or tablet regardless of location.

With simple, easy-to-follow instructions, you can delve into pre-recorded seminars at your convenience.
Taxes for Mid-Career and Established Writers

(Closed Captioning in English. ASL interpretation included.)
Taxes for Early Career Writers

(Closed Captioning in English. ASL interpretation included.)
End of Play.® 2023 National "Pens Down" Celebration
Monday, May 1
ADT: 7:30pm
EDT/AST: 6:30pm
CDT: 5:30pm
MDT: 4:30pm
PDT/MST: 3:30pm
AKDT: 2:30pm
HST: 12:30pm
At this celebration, you'll get to connect with other End of Play.® participants, and share your experience. Volunteer event coordinators will also host a series of breakout rooms on a variety of topics for folks to connect on a more intimate basis. Discussion topics will include:

Come celebrate your hard work, and learn more about possible next steps for your play or musical. Grab your favorite cocktail, mocktail, or beverage of choice, and join us online!
Join us for Community, Craft, and Career Training Events this Spring
Join your fellow playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists at community events around the country this spring.

Scroll down to discover community gatherings, career training workshops, writers groups, and more. Don't miss the opportunity to both learn from and connect with playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists in your region and beyond!
DG Co-signs Statement Condemning Suppression of LGBTQ Expression in Florida
The Dramatists Guild has co-signed the following statement condemning Florida's suppression of LGBTQ culture and expression:
As organizations dedicated to the freedom of thought, inquiry, and speech, we are deeply alarmed by Florida public officials’ attempts to suppress LGBTQ expression. Legislative and administrative acts of intimidation aimed at deterring access to LGBTQ culture are a serious attack on First Amendment principles.

Florida’s hostility to LGBTQ communities stands out amid an onslaught of attacks on LGBTQ literature in schools and libraries across the country. Florida’s Parental Rights in Education statute forbids classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity up through Grade 3, and a new bill, HB 1223, proposes to extend this prohibition through Grade 8 and restrict the use of students’ pronouns to those matching their assigned sex at birth. Another bill, HB 999, proposes to eradicate “radical gender theory” and queer theory from syllabi at Florida state colleges. 

The state is also deploying its Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DPBR) to suppress LGBTQ expression...
DG and NCAC Protest the Cancellation of Marian: The True Tale of Robin Hood by Adam Szymkowicz
In collaboration with the National Coalition Against Censorship, The Dramatists Guild has co-signed the following letter to the Northwest Allen County School Board, protesting the cancellation of Carroll High School's production of Marian: The True Tale of Robin Hood by Adam Szymkowicz:
March 3, 2023
School Board
Northwest Allen County Schools 13119 Coldwater Rd
Fort Wayne, IN 46845

Dear Members of the School Board,

The National Coalition Against Censorship is an alliance of national nonprofit groups dedicated to protecting freedom of expression, including artistic expression and the rights of K-12 students, teachers and staff. We are writing to protest the cancellation of Carroll High School's production of Marian: The True Tale of Robin Hood.

As we understand it, Principal Cleve Million received parental complaints about LGBTQ content in the play. According to Superintendent Wayne Barker, the school principal responded by canceling the production because he was concerned about harassment or heckling if the play continued.
Need Business Advice? The BA Career 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 Dramatists Guild Announces Initial 2023 Award Recipients
The Dramatists Guild Awards will be presented at Joe’s Pub on Monday, May 15. The ceremony is open to the public with limited tickets available.
Click here to join the DG Awards mailing list and receive future updates.

The Hull-Warriner Award is the only award given by dramatists to dramatists. It is presented annually by the Dramatists Guild Council to an author or team of authors in recognition of their play dealing with controversial subjects involving the fields of political, religious, or social mores of the times. This year’s Hull-Warriner Award will go to two recipients: Samuel D. Hunter for A Case for the Existence of God and Sanaz Toossi for English.

The finalists for this year’s Hull-Warriner Award are Joshua Harmon for Prayer for the French Republic, James Ijames for Fat Ham, Mona Mansour for The Vagrant Trilogy, and Bruce Norris for Downstate.

The Flora Roberts Award, administered by the Dramatists Guild Foundation, is presented to a dramatist in recognition of distinguished work in the theatre and to encourage the continuation of that work. The recipient of this year’s award is Caridad Svich.

The Dramatists Guild Lifetime Achievement Award is presented by the Dramatists Guild Council in recognition of distinguished lifetime achievement in theatrical writing. Previous recipients include Edward Albee, Pearl Cleage, Betty Comden & Adolph Green, Horton Foote, Micki Grant, John Guare, A.R. Gurney, Sheldon Harnick & Jerry Bock, Tina Howe, John Kander & Fred Ebb, Adrienne Kennedy, Terrence McNally, Arthur Miller, Neil Simon, Stephen Sondheim, Joseph Stein, Paula Vogel, August Wilson, and Lanford Wilson. Career Achievement Awards have also been presented to Marsha Norman and Stephen Schwartz.   

The Dramatists Guild will give two Lifetime Achievement Awards this year, to Jules Feiffer and to the writing team of Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford.
Call to Action: Resources on Theatrical Archives
Over the last year, DG Copyright Management heard from several Guild members asking us to expand our resources on theatrical archives.

In response, we have built-- and continue to build-- relationships with key archiving institutions across America. We've also held a variety of conversations ranging from what makes an archive to organizing and storing papers to how to negotiate the sale of an archive. (All of these talks are free to view on our YouTube page.) On occasion, we have even been able to connect dramatists with top archiving institutions. But we would like to do more!

We are looking to the community to help us further our resources for theatre writers. We would be immensely grateful if you could spare a few minutes to answer several survey questions. It will undoubtedly make a difference and be an incredible gesture of support.

DG Copyright Management (“DG©M”) is an organization dedicated to Estate Planning & Copyright Management. We were created by the Dramatists Guild of America, Inc., to help dramatists with their legacy and estate planning.
The Thread Between Us All: The Legacy Issue and The Young Dramatists Issue
Discover our theatrical past and future in the newest issues of The Dramatist magazine: The Legacy Issue and the Young Dramatists Supplement!

The Legacy issue celebrates the impact that groundbreaking theatre writers have had upon the art form, paying tribute to the work of Adrienne Kennedy, William S. Yellow Robe, Bridgette Wimberly and others. The Young Dramatists supplement serves as a primer on the business of writing for the theatre; it is the first and only magazine of its kind, geared towards informing and empowering young theatre writers.

No matter your age, you're never too young or too old to view yourself as a professional playwright, composer, lyricist, or librettist.
Read The Legacy Issue

by Todd London

by Canaan Kennedy

by Amelia French

by Sarah Rebell

with Diane Fraher, Bob Jaffe, Vickie M. Ramirez,
Madeline Sayet, Deborah Murad ESQ, and Margo Lukens

by Amelia French

by Deborah Murad, ESQ.
Opportunity Digest
Submit your world premiere production by May 1 for inclusion in The Dramatist 2023 Season in Review!
Every year, the Dramatists Guild publishes a special version of our Dramatists Diary in the Season in Review Issue of The Dramatist. We are currently seeking diary submissions for all world premiere productions (by DG members, of course) that opened between May 1, 2022 and April 30, 2023.

If you had a world premiere production this theatre season, and you have not yet submitted it to the Dramatists Diary, you can do so via the button below. Please be sure to include your production dates and location.

You must submit your production news by May 1 in order to be included in the 2023 Season in Review issue of The Dramatist.
Please note that all submissions must adhere to the categories that are listed found in the Diary form. Readings, workshops, and publications are not eligible for inclusion at this time.

We ask that you do not email us the information, nor should you send clippings or typed letters; the completed Dramatists Diary form will suffice.
Discount to 2023 Pacific Playwrights Festival (PPF)
Dramatists Guild members are invited to attend South Coast Repertory's 2023 Pacific Playwrights Festival (PPF)!

This year's festival is scheduled to take place from May 5 to May 7. It will feature two world premiere productions and five staged readings by Bleu Beckford-Burrell, Eleanor Burgess, Clarence Coo, Noa Gardner, Charlie Oh, Michael Shayan, Anika and Britta Johnson and Nick Green. Check out the full lineup here.

DG members are eligible for a special, discounted rate: $12 tickets to readings and $30 tickets to full productions—or $242 for the whole weekend with an Industry Package (which includes all the theatre offerings, meals and the Saturday PPF Bash). 

To access your offer, enter promotional code LOCALPPF at checkout when you purchase your Industry Package or single tickets online. 
April 30 - Carlo Annoni Prize
May 1 - Paramount Writers Mentoring Program
May 1 - Festival of Ten XIII (at SUNY-Brockport)
May 1 - PlayZoomers
May 1 - Aurand Harris Memorial Playwriting Award
May 1 - New Voices One-Act Play Competition
May 5 - WTP New Play Development Apprenticeship
May 31 - Brady Fellowship
May 31 - In Death's Company
June 1 - Venturous Theater Fund 
June 1 - Catskills Creative Residency
June 6 - NYFA Grant for Artists with Disabilities
Charles Leipart - librettist/ playwright/ lyricist seeking composer
I am an award-winning lyricist, librettist, and playwright. I was awarded the prestigious Kleban Award for Librettist and my work has been produced in the UK, New York City, and various U.S. regional theatres...

Shelley Barker Shea - librettist seeking composer
The Life of Charlotte Brontë, an opera in four acts, creates a many layered portrait of the life of an extraordinary writer. It opens with the Brontë children as they play with toy soldiers and invent heroic characters from these figures...

Zachary Isrow - composer/ librettist/ lyricist seeking librettist/ lyricist
I am a musical theatre writer/lyricist/composer, looking for someone to collaborate with on an ongoing basis as a writing team. I have written one musical that has been produced, and am now looking to work on something new...

Joi Danielle Price - playwright seeking composer
Playwright with years of experience as Broadway actor is looking for a composer excited about contributing to an innovative play that uses dance to move the story of a professional Black dancer who toured in the segregated south and prospered in the traditionally white-centered world of ballet...

David Koenigsberg - playwright/ lyricist seeking composer
Author and lyricist seeks composer to create the piano part for what would be classified as a two act off-Broadway musical called The Canvassers. The book is about twenty year olds from around the world who are fundraising on behalf of a United Nations humanitarian agency...
Download a DG Best Practice, Model Contract, or Guide Today!
Multiple arrows suggesting downloading contracts.
Because the Guild tracks national and worldwide trends, we are able to provide certain model contracts that reflect up-to-date industry standards.

We encourage our members to use these models to educate themselves and to use them as guides when entering into productions or collaborations.

Before Writing Has Begun

Working With Others


Writing Something New

Devised Theatre


Submissions Tools

Best Practices

Production Agreements

Billing Credit

Working With Directors

Professional Theatre Contracts

Amateur Theatre Contracts

Live Stream/Digital Theatre

Devised Theatre


Supplemental to All Production Contracts

Production Process



Career Advice
We would like 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 features DG members' most pressing questions, answered by staff in our BA department. 
Question: What Should I Know About Representation (Agents/Managers)?
At a certain point in a dramatist’s career, the question of representation arises, whether that be an agent or personal manager. An agent or manager can open doors for their clients, give business advice, and be a valuable ally and support system throughout an artist’s professional development. However, acquiring representation is no simple, straightforward task. This article addresses some of the issues that might arise when seeking out or considering representation.


The distinction between agents and managers is not always clear, but there are certain differences. Generally, agents secure opportunities for their clients, while managers address matters of professional development. In states like California and New York, agents must be licensed as an artists’ employment agency, while managers are not subject to this regulation.

Agents utilize their contacts to get a client’s plays read and produced. They negotiate contracts, explain the content to their clients, and monitor those contracts to ensure prompt payment. Some agents will also offer limited editorial assistance.

Managers offer career advice to their clients, both artistic and business related. They may also provide counsel on publicity and public relations.
An alternative to an agent or manager is an entertainment lawyer, who usually enters the scene once a deal is ready to be negotiated.

Entertainment lawyers will either charge an hourly rate or a percentage of a client’s royalties, and the relationship can be terminated at any time. They rarely procure opportunities for their clients but rather negotiate and draft contracts. Be sure to work with an attorney who is familiar with entertainment law, in particular theatre contracts.


The Dramatists Guild Online Resource Directory offers an extensive list of agencies. Some agents may charge a reading fee, although such fees are unfavorable, while others may not accept unsolicited submissions. In most cases, submission information can be found on an agency’s website.


When considering different options for representation, it’s imperative that you ask questions that will help you assess whether you’ve found the right fit. Remember, an agent or manager works for you, so your relationship should be built on trust and open communication. Ask a prospective representative what markets your work might appeal to, then find out if your potential agent or manager has contacts and past experiences in those markets. You want to be represented by someone established and experienced, but you might want to avoid signing with someone who has so many clients that your work won’t get the energy and attention it deserves.

  • How long have you worked as an agent?

  • How many people work at your agency?

  • Are there agents in your company who specialize in movie and TV rights? Foreign rights?

  • Does your agency have sub-agents overseas or elsewhere in the United States?

  • Who else does your agency represent?

  • What approach do you take regarding career guidance? Do you offer editorial input?

  • How will I be informed of your activities on my behalf?

  • Do you consult with your clients on all offers?

  • What fees and commissions do you charge?

  • Does your agency charge its clients for any specific expenses, e.g., photocopying, long-distance telephone calls?

  • How and when does your agency process and disburse clients’ funds?

  • In the event that you are suddenly unable to continue as my agent, are there provisions for continuing the operation of my account?

  • What is your experience with negotiating contracts?

  • Does your agency retain an attorney to review incoming contracts?

  • These questions should help you gauge the possible effectiveness of your representative and help you decide whether this person or agency the right fit for you.

Certain agents might want to rely on an agency clause in an executed production contract in order to dictate the terms of the author-representative relationship, rather than enter into a formal contract.
To best avoid possible conflict in the future, enter into a written contract that is fairly negotiated and clearly defined. This contract will govern in the event that an executed production contract is not yet in effect. Several different issues are raised by an agency agreement, some of which are addressed below.
Need Business Advice? The BA Career 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. 
DG Glossary
We are writers; what we love to do most... is write! Second to that, we love rehearsing in the room with performers and 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 is your handy go-to guide on important terms that every writer of the theatre should know.
Net Profits

Generally, net profits earned from any enterprise are calculated as the gross revenues earned from the activity, less the approved expenses incurred. In the theatre industry, a producer earns two types of net profits: the net profits earned after a production reaches “recoupment” and the weekly net operating profits of a production, earned either before or after recoupment.

A production’s net profits are defined in the documents provided to the producer’s investors. Meanwhile, a production’s “weekly net operating profits” (or “WNOP,” or “weekly profits”) are defined in a DG production agreement as the GWBOR less that week’s operating expenses. WNOP is defined in the APC as “the amount by which Gross Weekly Box Office receipts for a particular performance eek exceed the weekly breakeven for such week.” When there is no WNOP for a performance week, then it is a “losing week”and there are provisions which deal with how royalties are calculated under these circumstances.

An author may be paid a royalty based on weekly profits rather than on GWBOR. This is usually calculated in a “royalty pool” (i.e., a percentage of the weekly profits allocated to all the royalty holders, which generally includes the author, director, choreographer, producer, designers and underlying rights owners), with the remaining weekly profits paid to the investors. An author may also be paid a percentage of the production’s net profits as an additional form of compensation.