Louis E. Catron
Internet playwriting links
Links for Playwrights

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      Playwriting courses, seminars, and how-to advice are popular net pages.  Some may even be worthwhile.  Popular, too, are scripts-on-line, where new plays can be posted.  (Caution:  Authors should recognize that by posting their plays on the net they may be giving their plays away for free, losing all copyright control of their work.)

      Browing the following internet sites may help you find what you want.

      Not everything is on the internet, however.  Printed books remain crucial.  I suggest you check my recommended bibliography for theatre folks (especially the section "Good Books for Playwrights"). 



      The internet is raising interesting questions about the nature of "publication."  Although once playwrights or play readers only had one source—books—now the internet is providing a new and different form of publication.  Here’s one example.  As the site explains,

The Dramatic Exchange is a Web resource for playwrights, producers, and anybody interested in plays. We aim to provide a place where playwrights can make their plays available, and where producers and readers can look to find plays uploaded here by the playwrights.
      The "Index of Plays" is arranged in subdivisions such as comedies, dramas, tragedies, children’s theatre, musicals, and one-acts.  Playwrights find the site attractive:  in the one-acts file I found almost 200 scripts.

      The site does not discuss legalities.  What about copyright?  What happens if a director or producer elects to produce one of these plays without even informing the author?  Such thorny questions come with the popularity of e-publication.



      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.



      The Playwrights Union is open to Canadian citizens who’ve had at least one play professionally produced.  PUC represents some 335 members and distributes more than 1,500 Canadian plays, which are listed in its on-line Catalogue.  It also publishes books.

      The site offers access to its Catalogue of plays and has a form to arrange for their production.  The "Books" button takes you to a healthy list of theatrical books. "Playwrights" opens a large list of Canadian playwrights, and I was delighted to find again a long-time personal favorite writer (Joanna Glass, author of Canadian Gothic, a powerful play that is on my "top ten" list of best one-acts).



      Charles Deemer expertly operates this site and updates it regularly.  The first thing you see on his home page is his three "golden rules of playwriting," which includes "American movies are about what happens next" and "The chainsaw is your friend."

      There is a valuable search engine through a drop-down menu of almost 40 various categories such as "Dramatic Structure," "Story Treatment," "Pitching," "Directory of Producers and Agents," "Contests," and more.

      Especially helpful is "Writing for Actors and Internet for Writers" (which offers a "self-help six-week guided tour" that answers everything you wanted to know about getting around the net but didn’t know how to ask).  Use this page’s search engine to find other information.

      Deemer is well-qualified to run this page; he has an MFA in Playwriting and has written plays and screenplays.  He also is experienced in the world of e-publication.



      "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.



      Here’s an example of a labor of love, a site so complex that you wonder how the author made time to put it all together.  This site is valuable for directors searching for short plays to present as well as for playwrights searching for examples of the short form.

      Webmaster Lewis W. Heniford is dedicated to the one-act form and has compiled an amazingly detailed and extensive list of short plays.  Among the helpful materials are an "author index" and "cast size/gender index."  Many entries give you a great deal of information on the playwrights.



      The author of "Small-Cast One-Act Guide Online" (above) suggests books for beginning or advanced playwrights.  The list reflects his considerable experience.



     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."



      Since 1995 this site has been offering online writing classes for a variety of authors, including playwrights and screenwriters.



      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 "). 



      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.


WRITING MUSICALS.   Few writing projects are more specialized, and more demanding, than writing for the musical theatre.  Harry Cohen offers a workshop into this art form. 


COFFEE HOUSE FOR WRITERS--DRAMA WORKSHOP.   When you enter this "nuts and bolts of dramatic writing" site you might want to start with "dramatic structure."


HOW TO ASSESS YOUR WRITING.   Dave Brandl clearly describes steps that he uses to evaluate his plays.  It is standard advice and well worth repeating. 


Discussions of individual playwrights are found in

"Theatre and Drama Virtual Library" (http://www.vl-theatre.com


"ELAC Theatre" ( http://www.perspicacity.com/elactheatre
/library/library.htm )


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