Before You Sign - The Monthly Dramatists Guild Newsletter
October 2022
DG Career Alert on Brown Paper Tickets
We wanted to inform our members of an ongoing issue with the popular ticketing platform, Brown Paper Tickets.

Recently, a member reached out to the Guild informing us that they had not received their ticket sales revenue from Brown Paper Tickets nearly two months after their self-produced production had closed and that their repeated follow-ups have been met with the same automated e-mail response.

Upon further research, our Business Affairs teams discovered that the Washington State Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Brown Paper Tickets in September 2020, after receiving hundreds of complaints from consumers all over the country about similar conduct. The lawsuit claimed that the company engaged in unfair and deceptive acts in violation of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act and owed approximately $6 million to event organizers and $760,000 to ticket buyers nationwide.

In March 2021, Brown Paper Tickets voluntarily entered into an agreement with the Washington State’s Attorney General’s Office, agreeing to make all payments owed to event organizers for completed events and issue full refunds to any ticket buyers by October 8, 2021. However, according to a report issued by the Seattle Times on October 14, 2021, Brown Paper Tickets failed to meet the deadline set by the consent decree, with the Attorney General’s Office quoted as saying “the vast majority of Washington state consumers have been paid – but thousands around the country ... are still waiting.”

It should be noted that the report by the Seattle Times includes a statement issued by the Brown Paper Tickets attorney acknowledging this failure and claiming that “though [they] are behind schedule, the team at Brown Paper Tickets…remains dedicated to this process.” However, as recently reported by ABC7 News in Seattle, Brown Paper Tickets has continued to withhold payment from event organizers, even for events which occurred after the settlement with the Attorney General’s Office.

Those of you who may be directly affected by this issue may want to contact private counsel as soon as possible to understand your rights.

Read more:

An Update on Infringing Websites
Hand holding a bullhorn
Back in August 2022, the Guild released a Career Alert concerning, a website that hosts a wealth of scripts, sheet music, and other forms of copyrightable material which have often been posted without the author's permission. 

A DG member recently informed us of two other sites that appear to be doing the same thing, and The member reported that a number of their works had been posted to both sites without their permission. The good news is that, after submitting takedown requests to both sites, the member's material was removed; removed the material promptly after receiving the request and took actions to remove it within roughly 10 days of the request (albeit without any notification that the material had been removed). 

However, is still ignoring takedown requests, and any other attempts at contact for that matter. The Dramatists Legal Defense Fund (DLDF) is continuing to gather information on them and investigate the ongoing issue that all of these sites present to our members. In the meantime, we encourage everyone to visit and, and search for any of your work that may have been posted without your consent.

If you do find infringing material, you should follow the takedown procedures provided by the site to have that material removed. For your convenience, we have included links to that information below:

Review the section titled Notice and Procedure for Making Claims of Copyright Infringement

Do you have additional questions about copyright infringement?
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 Legal Defense Fund and PEN America Joint Statement on Cancellation of Down in Mississippi at Texas Wesleyan University
The theatre department at Texas Wesleyan University recently halted an upcoming production of the play, Down in Mississippi, after some students voiced opposition, concerned about the use of the N-word. Written by DG member Carlyle Brown, the play takes place in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer of 1964 and includes multiple uses of the slur, which the playwright has said was done for historical accuracy. Some students organized a petition for the play’s cancellation and voiced their concerns during an open meeting with the playwright and administrators, claiming the use of the slur would cause harm to Black students, amid other tensions related to race and diversity on campus. In response to this incident, the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund (DLDF) and PEN America released the following statement:

“The decision to cancel this production because of some students’ objections is an alarming affront to artistic freedom. While students’ concerns about the use of the N-word in the play and the climate surrounding race and diversity on campus are understandable, the answer cannot be to shut down the opportunity to stage the playwright’s work about an important moment in history. At its finest, theatre aims to provoke its audience in the hope it will spur reflection and public dialogue. In that spirit, the idea of organizing a listening session was an appropriate channel for students’ frustrations. If still upset, students could have protested the play in other ways or chosen not to attend. Instead the theatre department has essentially silenced the playwright and exercised the equivalent of a veto over all the students and faculty involved, as well as all those who may have learned from or enjoyed the production.

Canceling on the cusp of performance is particularly disconcerting, and it elevates one view of this production to the exclusion of all others, foreclosing on the potential for any nuanced engagement with its unflinching subject matter. Especially at a moment when book bans around the country are targeting the work and stories of writers and artists of color, it is essential to defend the space for all creative expression. Unquestionably, the N-word has a menacing and debasing history and students’ concerns should be taken seriously–but blanket censorship of this kind ought never to be the solution to art that offends, provokes or is difficult.”

The DLDF has produced a useful toolkit to aid in the staging of theatre productions on campus. 

The Dramatists Legal Defense Fund advocates and educates on behalf of the right of free speech on stages across America. Learn more at

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at
DG, TCG, and STA Statement in Support of Nataki Garrett
The Dramatists Guild, Theatre Communications Group, and Shakespeare Theatre Association are joining together to stand with Nataki Garrett and condemn in every possible way the unconscionable harassment and death threats that she has received as Artistic Director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Nataki’s expertise and vision steered OSF, one of the most prominent regional theatres in the country, through the pandemic, surviving under unprecedented financial pressure caused by an industry in lock down. The theatre not only survived; it thrived as she presented a vibrant first season, which included productions of Shakespeare that employed diverse casts as well as new plays by a diverse group of brilliant contemporary writers. Many subscribers and theatergoers were thrilled with what they saw. But, as a leading advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion, and access in the American theatre, and the first Black woman to direct such a celebrated performing arts organization, she became the target of death threats, which have forced her to travel with a security team in public. 

This violent response to her artistic choices strikes right at the heart of who we are, not just as members of the American theatre, but as citizens. If, by producing writers of the global majority, an artist like Nataki Garrett can be subjected to death threats, what does that say about the precarious situation our theater industry is in? In the face of violence, how will systemic change ever occur? We urge the industry to treat writers fairly, and to dismantle gatekeeping systems that stifle the expansion of the theatrical canon, impacting whose stories get told, how they get told, and by whom. Everyone of good conscience must stand together to reject hate and to embrace empathy; it is the only path towards systemic change.
Career Training
Career Training Webinar: How to Collaborate as a Theatre Writer in Grad School or College
Hand holding a pen
Learn how to collaborate as a student playwright, composer, lyricist, or librettist! All students pursuing careers as writers are welcome.

Thursday, October 27

Atlantic Time: 4pm
Eastern Time: 3pm
Central Time: 2pm
Mountain Time (D): 1pm
Mountain Time (S): 12pm
Pacific Time: 12pm
Alaska Time: 11am
Hawaii Time: 9am

Join DG's Business Affairs team for a career training workshop on best practices for student theatre writers who are collaborating with their peers and professors/mentors.Discover what joint authorship entails, how to legally adapt a published work, how to use collaboration agreements, and more!

All students in any high school, college, graduate, continuing education program, or specialized program who are pursuing careers as theatre writers are invited to attend.
A Conversation with DG Council Member George C. Wolfe
Monday, October 24
6pm EDT

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts presents a conversation with DG Council Member George C. Wolfe, exploring his remarkable career as a playwright and director. This free, in-person event will also include screen clips from some of the recordings of Wolfe's plays and musicals that are in the Library's Theatre on Film and Tape (TOFT) Archive.

Playwright and artistic director George C. Wolfe was born on September 23, 1954 in Frankfort, Kentucky. Wolfe staged several plays in Los Angeles before moving to New York in 1979, where he graduated with his M.F.A. degree in 1983 from New York University School of the Arts. He premiered Paradise! in 1985, and The Colored Museum in 1986, which garnered Wolfe national attention, as well as the attention of New York Shakespeare Festival founder Joseph Papp. Following the premiere of Spunk (1989), Papp named Wolfe a resident director in 1990. Wolfe won his first Obie award for Spunk’s New York production that same year. In 1992, Wolfe made his Broadway debut with Jelly’s Last Jam at the Virginia Theatre, and achieved widespread recognition when he directed the Broadway premiere of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America in 1993. Read more.

While tickets to all events at the Library for the Performing Arts are free, seating is granted on a first come, first served basis. Please be advised that the Library encourages mask wearing in all public spaces.
Featured Resources
DLDF College Cancellation Toolkit
The Dramatists Legal Defense Fund (DLDF) is pleased to share their toolkit, Dramatic Changes: A Guide to Producing Live Stage Works on College Campuses in the 21st Century!

What does the notion of a safe space mean and whom does it serve?

How can you resolve potential conflicts between safe spaces and creative/academic freedom?

This toolkit explores how students and educators can work to resolve tensions between the importance of free expression and the need to advance values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access when producing shows on college campuses. It is intended to be a guide for those who are involved in creating theatre on college campuses, as they take a theatrical work from its selection to its performance, and through to its aftermath, while proactively addressing the various challenges that may arise along the way.

Students want to use theatre to confront the major challenges of our day, to broaden the range of perspectives seen on stage, and to shake a sense of complacency from audiences and from the community. Not all of the stakeholders in the process -- the students, the faculty, the administration -- will always see eye to eye on how best to accomplish this goal. That’s okay.

Performance, even of supposedly “safe,” uncontroversial material, necessarily entails a degree of risk and vulnerability. Maintaining trust and cohesion within a production is hard work. These dynamics are tested further by material that forces those involved to consider difficult questions or to confront unpleasant truths.

The DLDF hopes that this toolkit can help students, faculty, and administrators alike to create opportunities for healthy discussion and disagreement, bound by mutual respect, unified by a common understanding of the unique and vital role that theatre can play in their lives.
DGF Emergency Grants for Dramatists in Puerto Rico, Mississippi, and Florida
Photo of the Performing Arts Library Building in New York City
DGF Emergency Grants from The Dramatists Guild Foundation are currently available to dramatists in Puerto Rico, Mississippi, and Florida who require immediate financial assistance.

Hurricane Ian Emergency Grant

Playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists who are based in Florida and who are in need of financial support due to Hurricane Ian, are eligible to apply for a one-time, $500 emergency grant from the Dramatists Guild Foundation.

Solicitud para Subvención de Emergencia por Huracán Ian

Dramaturgos que estén impactados por el Huracán Ian pueden aplicar por una ayuda financiera de una vez de $500 para emergencias por parte de The Dramatists Guild Foundation.
Hurricane Fiona Emergency Grant

Playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists who are based in Puerto Rico and who are in need of financial support due to Hurricane Fiona, are eligible to apply for a one-time, $500 emergency grant from the Dramatists Guild Foundation.

Solicitud para Subvención de Emergencia por Huracán Fiona

Esta forma es para dramaturgos (escritores teatral, compositores, letristas, libretistas) que viven en Puerto Rico pueden aplicar por una vez para ayuda financiera $500 de emergencias por parte de The Dramatists Guild Foundation por circunstancias causadas por el Huracán Fiona.
Mississippi Water Emergency Grant

Playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists who are based in Mississippi, and who are in need of financial support due to the ongoing water crisis, are eligible to apply for a one-time, $500 emergency grant from the Dramatists Guild Foundation.

Aplicación de emergencia para la crisis de agua en Mississippi

Esta forma es para dramaturgos (escritores teatral, compositores, letristas, libretistas) que viven en Mississippi pueden aplicar por una vez para ayuda financiera $500 de emergencias por parte de The Dramatists Guild Foundation por circunstancias causadas por la crisis de agua.
The Dramatist
The Perfect Gift for a Musical Theatre Lover or Young Dramatist

Gift The Sondheim Issue and Tribute Poster
Our Sondheim Issue and accompanying tribute poster are the perfect gift for the Sondheim aficionado in your life!

The Sondheim Issue of The Dramatist magazine pays tribute to the artist, mentor, collaborator, and past President of the Guild, Stephen Sondheim.

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.
Mental Health Resources for Dramatists
The Entertainment Community Fund, along with the National Council for Mental Wellbeing and kate spade new york, will offer targeted mental health resources and support to New York City/New Jersey arts industry professionals, including playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists.

As an extension of kate spade new york’s social impact mission focused on mental health and wellbeing, this project will provide funded Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) trainings to members of the performing arts and entertainment community who reside in the New York City/New Jersey metro area.

Managed and operated by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, MHFA is a skills-based training that teaches people how to identify, understand, and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health or substance use challenges in adults ages 18 and over. The evidence behind the program demonstrates that it builds mental health literacy, providing an Action Plan that teaches people to safely and responsibly identify and address a potential mental health or substance use challenge.

The training sessions will be held on the following dates:

  • Virtual: Monday, November 7, 10 am – 4 pm ET
  • In-person at Soho Works: Monday, November 14, 9 am – 4 pm ET
  • In-person at Soho Works: Monday, December 5, 9 am – 4 pm ET
  • Virtual: Monday, December 12, 10 am – 4 pm ET
Free Rehearsal Space at the Dramatists Guild Foundation
Photo of New Rehearsal Room at the Dramatists Guild Foundation
The Dramatists Guild Foundation is now offering free space for playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists to use to rehearse, work, and collaborate!

Three separate spaces (the Music Hall, the Composers Corner, and the Writers Den) are available for use, all of which are located at the Foundation's offices in midtown Manhattan. These spaces are open to all dramatists, regardless of DG membership status.

Please email with any questions.
DG Resources
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: Where might I start in my contract negotiation with a theatre?
Standard theatrical practices may differ in different markets. What is common in the production of an opera may be alien to the norms for work produced in children’s theatre. What is customary on Broadway may be absurd for a high school production. What is standard for a relationship among authors of a commercial stage musical may be antiquated or irrelevant when creating a work with a “devised theatre” company. Different markets have deals with different moving parts. So, knowing what world you are stepping into is an essential piece of the puzzle in negotiations.  
In order to educate yourself, the DG has an extensive library of articles and contract models covering a wide range of subjects that can help you better understand the market into which you are submitting your work. If you have other questions about a particular field, or any more general questions about your professional business dealings in the theatre industry, you can reach out to our Director of Business Affairs.  
You will also be in a better position if you begin your negotiations with a sense of what to expect from the other side. The more you understand about the specific goals, history, and audience of the theatre, the more effectively you’ll be able to represent your interests. 
Here are some preliminary questions to consider: 

  • Why are you interested in working with this theatre? 

  • Have you ever been to this theatre? If so, did you feel welcome? 

  • Has this company produced any shows like yours, or any show by dramatists of your demographic? 

  • Does this company have anyone from your demographic on their staff and/or board, particularly in leadership? Has there been recent turnover? 

  • Do you feel like you have access to the leadership there? Are they approachable? 

  • Who puts together the theatre's casts and creative teams (directors, choreographers, designers, etc.)? Do they tend to hire the same people over and over? 

  • What does a typical audience look like there? Whom do they target? Who shows up?

  • Have you taken note of this company’s marketing? How did it strike you?

  • How much does a ticket cost? Does the cost prohibit people you’d like in your audience from seeing your show? 

  • Do you know anyone who’s worked there? Would you feel comfortable talking to them about their experience? 
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.
Amateur Licensing

"Amateur Licensing" refers to the license granted to non-professional theatres and/or other non-professional venues for the right to produce an amateur production of an author's work.

Under U.S. copyright law, the author of an original work is afforded a bundle of rights which includes, but is not limited to, the right to publicly perform the work. When a person, entity, or organization wants to produce an author's work, they have to obtain a license from the author that grants them this right. When the author's work is a dramatic work, the license is generally granted in the form of a written production contract ,which sets forth the conditions under which the requesting party is allowed to perform the work. These conditions generally include the number of and type of performances allowed (such as live stage vs. livestream), the compensation due to the author for the use of their work (which is usually in the form of royalties), and guarantees that the author's rights will be safeguarded.

The type of production contract offered depends upon the level of production sought. An amateur production, as opposed to a first-class, second-class, or stock production, is a production in which the participating performers are not professionals (i.e., they are not members of a performing arts union or guild, such as Actors Equity Association). An amateur production is further differentiated in that the production is presented in a non-professional venue, including - but not limited to - a community theatre, school, religious institution and/or camp. Furthermore, it should be noted that even if the production is an amateur production, the author always has the right to be compensated for the use of their work. This is the case even if the amateur production will not be charging admission fees.

Amateur licensing is generally handled by the author's publisher (if they have one). When an author has their work published with a theatrical publisher, then the author has granted them the right to publish the work and, for a portion of the licensing fee, to act as the author's licensing agent. As such, they process requests and issue licenses for amateur and stock performances. This means that when a school, community theatre, etc. is interested in producing the author's work, they would contact the publisher for an amateur license. Typically, theatrical publishers will take a 20% cut of the fees generated from amateur licensing.

If the author's work is not represented by a theatrical publisher, then any person, entity, or organization looking to mount an amateur production would reach out to the author directly. If someone has contacted you looking to present an amateur performance/production, then you can use the Guild's Model Licensing Agreement as your production agreement, granting them the rights to perform your work.

You can view the Guild's Model Licensing Agreement here:

If you need help determining what to charge for an amateur license or if you have further questions, you can reach out to our BA HelpDesk for guidance:

Related Articles: 

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.