Before You Sign - The Monthly Dramatists Guild Newsletter
November 2022
Career Alert
Every Writer Insured!

Understand Your Healthcare Options and Get Affordable Care 
Blocks with healthcare symbols
Tuesday, November 29

Atlantic Time: 5pm
Eastern Time: 4pm
Central Time: 3pm
Mountain Time: 2pm
Pacific Time: 1pm
Alaska Time: 12pm
Hawaii Time: 11am

The Guild invites you to join a webinar for playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists that will help you sort through health insurance options and available resources, just in time for the current Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment period.

Led by the Entertainment Community Fund’s Renata Marinaro, this webinar will help you understand the ACA, give you clear, step-by-step guidance on all your insurance options, and explain how to get the most affordable coverage. You’ll find out how to estimate variable income to get the most out of your healthcare dollar, and to see if you’re eligible for free insurance or reduced premiums. You’ll learn how to lower your drug costs, where to find care if you’re temporarily uninsured, and more. This event is an excellent opportunity for unbiased, comprehensive information targeted specifically for self-employed writers who need health insurance that is not employer-based. 

This webinar will address questions such as:

  • How do I know if I’m eligible for ACA coverage? Do I qualify for subsidies to cover all or part of my monthly premiums? 

  • What resources are available to help me navigate the ACA marketplace in my state?

  • If I already have insurance, how do I determine if I would be better off under an ACA plan?

  • My income comes from a variety of sources, and it varies from year to year. How does that affect my eligibility?

The webinar, which is free and open to all dramatists, is brought to you by the Entertainment Community Fund in partnership with Venturous Theater Fund with the cooperation of the Dramatists Guild, the Dramatists Guild Foundation, New Dramatists, and the Playwrights’ Center. Advance registration will be required – secure your spot today!

How to Attend: Register via the button below, and you will receive a Zoom link prior to the event.
Joint Statement on Recent Play Cancellations
The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), which represents 59 education, publishing, religious, and arts organizations, has joined the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund and PEN America to call attention to the cancellation of plays at two universities, following protests over their content. The groups have released the following statement:

Colleges and universities should be places to explore and learn from challenging ideas, histories, and artworks. Yet, well-meaning students are calling for the suppression of art and performance, all in service of the misguided idea that the very presence of an offensive word or image within a work causes damage, regardless of context. Targets include WPA-era paintings and contemporary theatre productions illustrating histories of oppression.

Within two weeks this Fall, two university theatre productions were canceled by their program directors because of student objections to slurs used in the scripts, each of which explore specific eras of discrimination in US history: one on the lavender scare, one on the civil rights era.

At Texas Wesleyan University, Carlyle Brown’s Down in Mississippi was called off after students petitioned against the production, claiming its use of racial slurs was harmful. The play—penned by Brown, an accomplished Black playwright—tells the story of students who traveled to Mississippi in 1964 to register Black citizens to vote. To make tangible the dehumanizing treatment faced by Black Americans during this era, the script employs racial slurs in eleven instances.

At Quinnipiac University, the student-run Fourth Wall Theater ceased production of Topher Payne’s Perfect Arrangement, because members of the cast were uncomfortable with language used in a particular scene and refused to participate. Within the context of a play, written by a gay playwright, about the hatred experienced by LGBTQ communities in the 1950s, the use of homophobic slurs is integral to the work. Nonetheless, the discomfort of student actors led to the project’s abandonment, in favor of Alice in Wonderland

The normalized racism and homophobia of the time periods examined in these canceled productions may indeed be painful to represent on stage. However, if actors refused to represent characters whose beliefs or words they find appaling, theatre, television, and film as we know it would disappear in favor of feel-good entertainment. We cannot have Angels in America without Roy Cohn, Othello without Iago, or The Downfall without Hitler.

Student knowledge and perceptions must be taken into account in the design of both curricular and extracurricular activities. But sanitized alternatives—or worse—the convenient omission of thoughtful, nuanced works of historical fiction, do a disservice to very real and terrifying circumstances experienced by marginalized communities throughout American history.

While it was the protests of students that shut down these plays, the institutions that support these theatre programs also bear responsibility for the cancellations. Students enroll in higher education to learn under the guidance of field professionals. It is the role of colleges to provide students with educational resources to help them ask important questions and encounter the difficult lessons of history. In the case of theatre, this can take the form of accompanying discussion groups, a lecture series, or workshops to offer historical context and examine the implications of censoring controversial or offensive material. If our colleges and universities are unwilling or unable to take the lead, how will graduates learn to address these issues after they earn their diplomas?

Without better leadership, our cultural field will be practically forbidden from earnest examinations of history, and marginalized voices will continue to be silenced from exposing the trying circumstances faced by their communities.
Career Training
DG Music Series
Music Notes
The Dramatists Guild is hosting three free special workshops for writers interested in writing musical theatre and opera. Please feel free to share! 

Our workshop guests include Will Reynolds, Eric Price, Ellen Lewis, Joshua Mcguire, David Henry Hwang, Deborah Mouton, Stephanie Fleischmann, Carmel Dean, Kirsten Childs, Tom Kitt, and Helen Park!
Virtual Event
Monday, November 14

Join us on Monday, November 14, for a one-hour webinar with the musical theatre writers of The Violet Hour, Will Reynolds (Music) and Eric Price (Book and Lyrics).

Will and Eric will walk guests through the process of self-producing a studio cast album highlighting alternative and exciting models for developing and showcasing new musicals. Learn how their unique approach centers on artist-driven leadership as they explore everything from fundraising, recording, post-production, and distribution.
Virtual Event
Monday, November 15

Join Ellen Lewis, Joshua Mcguire, David Henry Hwang, Deborah Mouton, Stephanie Fleischmann and learn how to create a new opera!

Gather with your opera community for an online conversation about the craft of writing an opera libretto. This webinar will address how to select the topic and style for a libretto, how to find and work with a composer, how to create an outline, whether to rhyme (or not!), how to approach rewrites, what to know about dramaturgs, and more. 
In-Person Event
at The Mary Rodgers Room in New York City
Monday, November 28

Join composer/arranger Carmel Dean as she talks to Kirsten Childs, Tom Kitt, and Helen Park about their respective songwriting processes and how they found the “write way” to bring their music to life.

There are many ways to compose music for a musical. Every composer has a unique process that works for them, based upon their musical training, background, and experience. From handwriting songs using a pencil and manuscript paper, to recording full orchestral demos on GarageBand, to collaborating with arrangers who flesh out and expand their vision, there are myriad ways in which theatre composers of the 21st century create music for the stage.
Talkback Season 4 Now Available to Download - Where Art, Community, and Inclusion Meet
After two years spent in relative isolation, live theatre is back. What is inspiring our fellow writers these days, and where did it all begin for them? What have they learned from the ways in which they managed to serve their national community of playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists during the pandemic? How can they continue to advocate for a more equitable future, one that champions and uplifts all theatre writers within our ever-expanding community? 

Join host Christine Toy Johnson as she interviews fellow theatre writers about what inspires them to create art and what inspires them to create community. This season, Lynn AhrensAmanda GreenStephen FlahertyBranden Jacobs-JenkinsMichael R. JacksonLisa KronRona SiddiquiJohn Weidman, and Charlayne Woodard provide a searingly honest look into their writing processes and share what drives them to keep fighting for equal rights and protections for theatre writers everywhere. 

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4 (Available November 14, 2022)
Talking is Easy, Writing is Hard: 
A conversation with Lisa Kron and John Weidman

Episode 4 (Available November 21, 2022)
I Began Writing as a Way For Me to Make Sense Out of Certain Things: A Conversation with Rona Siddiqui and Michael R. Jackson

Episode 4 (Available November 28, 2022)
We are the Uber Drivers of the Theatre Industry: 
A Conversation with Amanda Green
Copyright and Estate Planning Updates
New Resource from the Copyright Claims Board
Recently, the Copyright Claims Board (“CCB”) made a new resource available that may be beneficial to any playwrights, composers, lyricists, or librettists who are looking to bring copyright claims before the CCB.

This new resource is a directory of both clinics and organizations who work with law students to represent parties in a dispute before the CCB. It also includes a list of organizations that provide a range of pro bono assistance. While having legal representation is certainly not a requirement in order to bring a claim before the CCB, and the process has been designed to make it easy for you to represent yourself, if you’d prefer to obtain legal counsel -- but have limited financial resources to do so -- you should explore the options listed here first.
Please note, however, that this directory is still new; additional resources are in the process of being added as they are submitted and vetted by the CCB. So, if you don’t see something listed in your area keep checking back as this directory continues to grow.

The Guild will continue to keep our members informed of CCB updates as we receive them. If you ever have any questions about protecting your copyright, you can always reach out to us at the BA Career Help Desk
About the Copyright Claims Board
The Copyright Claims Board ("CCB") is a voluntary arbitration procedure within the U.S. Copyright Office that offers copyright owners an alternative to bringing a claim in federal court. 

Before the establishment of the CCB, copyright owners would have to file their claims in a federal court, which is not only complicated and time consuming, but quite expensive, making relatively smaller infringements not worth litigating.

With the CCB's launch this past spring, copyright owners now have a cheaper and faster alternative to federal court. They can now adjudicate claims that would otherwise be cost prohibitive. The process also limits the kinds and amount of discovery, allowing for all paperwork to be filed electronically and for CCB proceedings to be conducted remotely through video conferencing. 

You've chosen someone to manage your literary estate of plays, songs, libretti, and/or musicals.

Now what?
You've chosen someone to manage your literary estate of plays, songs, libretti, and/or musicals. Now what?

The next step is to equip your estate manager with as much information as possible about you and your work, so that they'll be prepared to make decisions on your behalf. DG Copyright Management's Copyright Catalog form asks all the relevant questions (such as whether you had a co-author, if your work is based on any underlying material, whether there is a publisher, and where to find the final version of the script). And it gives you something to hand to the next generation.

DG Copyright Management is here to help you navigate issues related to your estate planning and copyright management, so that your work lives on and is protected for its full term. Learn more at
The Dramatist
Shipping Soon:
The Money Issue

Keep an eye out for your copy of The Dramatist magazine's Money Issue. Discover strategies for how to successfully navigate the financial challenges of being a theatre writer and more!
Holiday Gifts for Theatre Lovers
Buy The Sondheim Issue and Tribute Poster as a Gift!
Our Sondheim Issue and accompanying tribute poster are the perfect gift for the Sondheim aficionado in your life!

Guest edited by DG Council member Lin-Manuel Miranda, this special issue (as well as the accompanying tribute poster designed by Bo Lundberg) is currently available to purchase at The Drama Book Shop in New York, NY, the Samuel French Bookshop in the Royal Court Theatre in London, UK, Skylight Books in Los Angeles, CA, and East End Books in Provincetown, MA.

You can also purchase your copy of the magazine and the Sondheim tribute poster online via the Dramatists Guild website.
Treat Yourself with a Playwright, Composer, Lyricist, or Librettist T-Shirt
Photo of T-shirts
We're excited to announce our new Dramatists Guild t-shirts! Treat yourself, a friend, or writer to DG merch.

Find your particular creative role combination and show the world that you're proud to be a playwright, composer, lyricist, and/or librettist!

DG Members now receive a 20% discount on all t-shirts orders. Use code DGMEMBER20
Job Opportunity: Director of Writing for the Screen and Stage program at UNC
The Writing for the Screen and Stage program (WSS), in the Department of Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, invites applications for the Director of the WSS program in a non-tenured, renewable multi-year position with the rank of Professor of the Practice.

The ideal candidate will be an artist practitioner who can expand and diversify the WSS curriculum; teach classes in screenwriting, playwriting, and/or new media forms (podcasting, game writing, etc.) both inside and outside the minor; who will work on recruiting more racially diverse and marginalized students into the program; and who will direct, administer, and re-envision the existing program to meet both student interests and future directions for these fields.

Please direct questions about the position to the Department of Communication's Business Officer, Ning Sun at

This is a Paid Advertisement
New initiative designed to support three ambitious early-career playwrights
The Terrence McNally New Works Incubator is a fellowship program created by the Terrence McNally Foundation in partnership with Tom Kirdahy Productions (TKP) and Rattlestick Theater. As a continuation of Terrence McNally’s singular legacy of fostering bold new voices in the American theatre, the incubator will support the development of new plays by offering resources and professional mentorship to three early-career playwrights and creating an opportunity for them to develop their work with the support of both a nonprofit theater and a commercial theatrical production company. 

The newly launched Terrence McNally Foundation, which honors the legacy of past DG Council Vice President and acclaimed writer Terrence McNally, will be dedicated to supporting new voices in the theatre, through programs including the fully funded Terrence McNally New Works Incubator at Rattlestick Theater. The foundation will also support and advocate for LGBTQ+ causes.
Join Your Fellow Writers at a National Silent Writing Session
Writing can feel like a solitary task sometimes which makes it difficult to find the motivation to write.

The Guild offers online silent writing sessions, hosted by our Community Representatives, Community Volunteers that are open to dramatists across the country.

Find a time slot that works for you and make the commitment to write for that period of time – sometimes simply making the commitment and setting aside the time to write is the most important step;

Anyone across the country can register for any time slot that they would like to - they are only organized by region to show who will be moderating during that period of time;
DG Events: Join us for Community, Craft, and Career Training Events this Fall
Join your fellow playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists at community events around the country this fall!

Click the button below to discover DG Footlights™ readings, 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!
Upcoming Submission Deadlines
Nov 11 - The Philly Cycle
Nov 14 - Cafe Royal Cultural Foundation NYC Publishing Grant
Nov 14 - The Premiere Play Festival
Nov 15 - New Works Collaboration Catalog (NWCC)
Nov 15 - Eugene O'Neill Foundation Artist in Residence
Nov 17 - Jerome Fellowships
Nov 20 - Women Center Stage
Nov 30 - Sundog Theatre Radio Plays
Dec 01 - Woodward/Newman Drama Award
Dec 01 - Many Voices Fellowships
Dec 01 - Black Motherhood and Parenting New Play Festival
DG Guides for Dramatists
Art of Negotiating Theatre Contracts

It can be daunting to negotiate with a producer, theatre, or school that wants to produce your play or musical. But it is important to advocate for yourself so that you receive the treatment that you deserve. 

Our guide on The Art of Negotiating Theatre Contracts will ensure that you know your rights as a dramatist, that you understand the current market, and that you recognize what you get in a negotiation.
Devised Theatre Resource Guide

What happens when a theatrical collaboration expands beyond traditional definitions? Discover resources designed to help you form appropriate relationships with co-authors, devisors, and sponsoring theatres in the context of devised theatre! 

This guide summarizes the ways in which devised theatre is made and offers contractual templates that ensure the equitable participation of the parties involved. 
Broadway Contract Guide

Learn all about the Dramatists Guild's Broadway Approved Production Contract in this APC booklet guide!

Discover when to obtain the APC for First-Class Productions, how to use the APC, and what APC certification means. This guide also includes important information on the rights and responsibilities of DG members when they are produced on Broadway, such as Guild assessments and our Broadway Consultation member benefit.
Best Practices for Contests and Festivals

What should you look out for when trying to decide whether to apply to a contest or festival?

This guide offers best practices that playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists can consider when weighing submission opportunities for contests and festivals, so that they will be empowered to make informed submission choices. (Please be advised that these guidelines reflect ideal industry practices, not current minimum standards.) 
Contracts and Best Practices
Download a DG Best Practice, Model Contract, or Guide Today!
Dear Business Affairs
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 is copyright inversion?
Any work created on or before January 1, 1978, is subject to copyright reversion, as detailed in 17 U.S.C. Section 203.

Copyright reversion allows a creator who transferred all or part of their rights in a copyrighted work to claw back those rights after 35 years. Congress enacted this provision because they recognized the uneven bargaining power between established publishers/producers and early-career creators. As the U.S. Copyright Office has explained, the intention was to give authors “an opportunity to share in the later economic success of their works by allowing authors or their heirs, during particular periods of time long after the original grant, to regain the previously granted copyright or copyright rights.”

Anticipating that an experienced publisher or producer might have an author waive their right to copyright reversion, Congress stipulated that the “termination of the grant may be effected notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary.” In other words, despite any contract or agreement you may have signed, you (or your heirs) will always have the right to terminate under this provision. (Your heirs? Yes—if you don’t invoke copyright reversion during your lifetime, the right to do so will pass to your heirs!)


Living authors always have the right to terminate a grant under section 203. If a work is written by a single author, that author will have the right to terminate. If the work is a joint work (written by multiple authors), the authors can terminate with a majority vote.

As previously mentioned, the right of reversion is inherited by an author’s heirs. So, heirs of a deceased author also have a right to terminate under section 203. Exactly which heirs inherit, and in what proportion they inherit, is outlined in the statute. What is critical to know is that it often results in multiple individuals holding interest and taking a majority vote to terminate. In the case of a joint work, the heirs will vote as a single unit representing the deceased author and vote alongside any living authors.
Notably, executors, administrators, personal representatives, and trustees only obtain the right to terminate if there are no heirs.


Copyright law is particular about when an author can invoke copyright reversion. If the author misses the specific termination window, the opportunity is lost. Termination under copyright reversion must occur during the five-year window (called the “termination window”) that begins 35 years after the day the grant was made (the “effective termination date”). For a publication, termination must occur during the five-year window that begins 40 years from the date the grant was made or 35 years from the date of publication, whichever is sooner.


Assume that Doris signed an agreement with a publishing company on May 9, 1979, and the work was published the following year, on April 19, 1980. She now feels that she could benefit from new opportunities and wants to terminate her agreement with her publisher. When can Doris terminate?

Because this is a publication, Doris can terminate during the five-year period that begins 40 years after the grant (i.e., May 9, 1979 + 40 = May 9, 2019) or 35 years after the publication date (i.e., April 19, 1980 + 35 = April 19, 2015), whichever is sooner. In this case, the April 19, 2015 date is sooner, so the five-year termination window would begin on April 19, 2015 and end in April, 2020.


If the author’s termination window has not passed, and the author would like to terminate under Section 203, they must issue a notice of termination to the other party. Again, the copyright statute is particular about when and how this must occur:

The earliest time at which the author can supply notice is ten years before the effective termination date; the latest the author can send notice is two years before the effective termination date. Failure to comply with these requirements will ordinarily render the termination ineffective.


Using our previous example, Doris would need to send her notice no earlier than ten years before the termination date (i.e. April 19, 2005) but no later than two years before the termination date (April 19, 2013).


By this point, it is probably no surprise that the statute is particular about the notice document. Because of the complex and specific nature of the notice document, we suggest having your personal attorney draft the document. Unfortunately, something like “note that as of this date, I am terminating this agreement subject to copyright reversion” will not suffice.
Once issued, the notice should be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. 


As with many legal matters, there are specific exclusions to copyright reversion. In other words, there are a few instances where the author cannot terminate the grant. 

  • First is a work-made-for-hire. Because the author never owns the copyright under a work-made-for-hire, the reversion right would not vest in the author.
  • Second is a grant by will. One cannot undo a grant made in a will. (On the other hand, the statute says nothing about trusts and other estate planning tools.)
  • Third is an international grant. Copyright reversion is particular to the United States. One cannot use it to terminate grants made to foreign entities.
  • Fourth is derivative rights. Derivative rights licensed under the initial grant cannot be terminated. In other words, if an author gives someone the right to adapt their play into a movie, the movie cannot be removed from the shelves with copyright reversion.
  • Finally, grants of less than 35 years cannot be terminated under copyright reversion. This is something to consider when signing a deal. Where a contract specifies a five-year term that automatically renews, for example, copyright reversion would never apply. In that instance, the author should make sure the contract provides another way to terminate.

If you’ve read this article, I welcome you to the club of savvy dramatists. Calculate your termination dates and consider what you might wish to terminate.
If you need further guidance, you can contact our Business Affairs department by calling (212) 398-9366, or by using the BA Career Help Desk at
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 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.
Production Expenses vs. Operating Expenses
A statement of Production Expenses describes how the capital raised by a producer for a production has been spent up to and including a production’s official press opening; this also includes the expenses related to the closing of the production. Production Expenses include amounts such as the costs of sets, premiums for bonds and insurance, advance advertising, salaries/fees for designers, directors, and company managers.

A statement of Operating Expenses, on the other hand, details the weekly expenses a show incurs after it opens, up to its closing. Operating Expenses include amounts such as compensation for the cast, director, managers, press agents, stage personnel, advertising, rent, legal and accounting expenses, and rentals. While an author’s weekly compensation is an Operating Expense, it is not included as such until after the author’s royalties are calculated.

No amounts that are charged as Production Expenses should be charged again as Operating Expenses, or vice versa. However, sometimes a fixed amount, or percentage, of the Production Expenses are charged as an Operating Expense. This is called “Amortization,” and the terms of Amortization are a negotiated point of a production agreement.

Financial statements detailing both Production Expenses and Operating Expenses customarily accompany the payment of royalties for either the run of the show, a particular performance week, or a group of performance weeks.

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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.