Concept

Dramatists Guild of America

Summary
The Dramatists Guild of America is a professional organization for playwrights, composers, and lyricists working in the U.S. theatre market. It was born in 1921 out of the Authors Guild, known then as Authors League of America, formed in 1912. Membership as an Associate Member is open to any person having written at least one stage play. Active Members are playwrights who have had at least one play produced in front of a paying audience or have had their work published by a major theatrical publisher. Student membership is also available for those enrolled in dramatic writing courses. The Dramatists Guild works to negotiate better contracts for playwrights in professional markets and offers recommendations for contracts in other markets. The Business Affairs division assists playwrights by reviewing contracts for productions and maintains a set of contracts for Guild members to use when licensing their work. The Dramatist is a bimonthly journal produced by the Dramatists Guild, which includes articles, interviews, and other information pertinent to playwrights. 1912 – The constitution and by-laws of the Authors’ League of America (which included 350 novelists, poets, dramatists, and magazine authors) were adopted December 13 and incorporated on December 18. 1915 – First attempt by a sub-committee of the Authors League at creating a Dramatic Contract to stake out the ill-defined rights of dramatists. 1917 – A committee headed by Cosmo Hamilton, in which Edward Childs Carpenter and Channing Pollock began their yeoman service to dramatists, drew up a new Standard Dramatic Form Contract. While some producers were cooperative, those who dominated the then powerful, tightly controlled Manager’s Protective Association resented its “gall.” The Shuberts sent a message via Augustus Thomas, that they would “close their theatres sooner than sign the proposed contract...managers would treat authors individually and in no other way, and that the part of good business was for a manager to get the best and most he could.
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