WritersNet Writing resource. news and discussion for authors/writers, editors, publishers and agents DRAMATISTS GUILD OF AMERICA This is the professional organization for playwrights professional playwrights and theatrical composers and lyricists in the United States. It has standard contracts for commercial and non-commercial productions of new plays, and it is the playwright’s advocate in case of conflict with producers and directors. Concerned about writers everywhere, the Guild works for the rights of more than 6,000 members internationally. Membership is open to all dramatic writers. As it says,
The Dramatists Guild is the professional association of American playwrights. It represents your interests particularly by developing standard contracts for commercial [Broadway] and non-commercial [Regional Theatre] productions of new plays. The Guild protects the rights of dramatists in relation to producers -- and more recently Directors.
The site offers links in tiny type at the bottom of the home page. Among them are "What is The Dramatists Guild?" "Membership," "Contracts," "Special Events," and "Symposia." Significant for all theatre artists, not just playwrights, are the links to "Dramatists Rights" and "Document of Principle." Helpful links include "Theatre Connections,""Contact a Member," and "Find a Member’s Agent." The latter shows an alphabetized list of playwrights and their agents.
"Designed to be a unique research and development facility for writers of stage and screen plays" at their 120-acre site in North Carolina, the Playwright’s Project offers authors an opportunity to work with a support group of directors, dramaturgs, actors, and designers.
WRITING CLASSES.COM "We believe that writing is a craft that can be taught. That does not mean we teach formula. We focus on teaching you fundamental principles such as plot, structure, character, voice, dialogue, and description." The school offers courses in every form of writing, including playwriting ( link ), either physically at their home in New York or online. Browse their home page to see what interests you, selecting from such topics as writing tips, classified ads, and reading lists (organized in very interesting categories). There's a link for you to tour a sample writing class. You'll want to think carefully about the cost of tuition--the investment means this is not a place for someone with limited interest and drive.
BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR PLAYWRIGHTS The author of "Small-Cast One-Act Guide Online" (above) suggests books for beginning or advanced playwrights. The list reflects his considerable experience.
E-SCRIPT Five- or ten-week-long online workshops on playwriting and screenwriting promise to "help you polish your dramatic writing skills, get started on a play or screenplay, or finish the one you've got going."
WRITERS ON THE NET Since 1995 this site has been offering online writing classes for a variety of authors, including playwrights and screenwriters.
THE PLAYWRITING SEMINARS Richard Toscan calls his 230-page site "An Opinionated Web Companion on the Art & Craft of Playwriting," and his seminars reflect strong opinions. Better that, say I, than no structure at all. He divides his approach into six basic areas. "Content: Story and Themes, Characters and Dialogue," "Film: The Screenwriting Craft vs. Playwriting," "Structure: The -wright of The Playwright's Craft," "Working: Writing Techniques, Rewriting and Editing," "Format: For Manuscripts and More Interesting Things," and "Business: Submitting Scripts, Copyright, Royalties, and Resources." His seminars are enriched by quotes from playwrights and recommended plays to read.
THEATRE COMMUNICATIONS GROUP—Residency Program for Playwrights A dominant force in American Theatre, TCG works with the National Endowment of the Arts for the NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights to support both "new and established artistic alliances between playwrights, host theatres and their communities." TCG publishes the immensely valuable Dramatists Sourcebook, an annual compilation of contests, theatres and directors looking for plays, and much more. Serious playwrights will want the latest edition in their libraries. (You'll find details in "recommended books for theatre people").
UNITED STATES COPYRIGHT OFFICE. You "own" your play as soon as you have written it, and official registration is not required. However, copyright registration is proof of authorship and certainly will be valuable evidence in the unhappy event you have to take legal action to protect your rights. I tend to think that you can postpone registering your play while you are giving a copy or two to individuals you know, but when you begin mailing out copies to strangers--directors, producers, publishers, agents, actors--you should have it copyrighted and you should put the copyright notice clearly on the front page. The link above sends you to the Copyright Office and you ought browse the various materials such as Copyright Basics and the FAQs. You want "Form PA" (Performing Arts). Currently the charge is $30.00.