I’m a member of the Dramatists Guild, which, if you don’t know, is the organization that works to protect the rights of playwrights throughout the industry. It’s not a union, because playwrights are independent contractors and therefore not legally entitled to collective bargaining, but it is a group of affiliated artists often working towards common goals. This morning, I received the following e-mail, and to be honest, I hadn’t really thought about how much of a problem this was. Now granted, the big money categories are all in the musical realm, and playwrights and book writers (outside of Tracey Letts these days) are not big Broadway stories. The Guild is right though–the reason that a lot of playwrights work in the theater is that we get to create worlds from scratch. We get to put the whole process in motion. It’s a shame that we were relegated to the pre-game show this year.
Here’s the e-mail:
Dramatists guild statement on the tony awards
On Sunday night of June 15, the annual celebration and commendation of this year’s Broadway theatre season was celebrated at the Tony Awards hosted by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League. While we gratefully acknowledge the program time spent on how playwrights construct their dramatic ideas (and the mention of all four playwrights’ names), we are concerned (and have expressed our concern) that the awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Revival of a Play were relegated to pre-televised programming. Council President John Weidman maintains, “The theatre is an art form which is driven by writers. Nothing exists before the script. So when theatre awards are given out, it’s appropriate that the writing awards should take first position. Even acknowledging the enormous time pressures on the producers of the Tony Award broadcast, Best Book of a Musical and Best Revival of a Play belong live, on the air.”