Playwright Tom Smith (from Seattle, now in New York, just had his play Sextet produced at WET), sent me a list of new rules and prohibitions that the Dramatists Guild is enforcing on American playwrights.

Smith admits he is guilty of crimes 2, 3, 5, and 8—and the Guild is garnering his fellowship wages.

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Meanwhile, Sarah Ruhl's going to have to find a new game if she wants to keep the Guild's hands off of her bank account.

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In response to recent outcry at the quality of theatre, The Dramatists Guild is now enforcing heavy fines on playwrights who violate these new statutes. As of the new year, playwrights are no longer allowed to:

1. Fill dialogue with jokes about products and celebrities.

2. Create characters that you find out are imaginary and/or in the main character’s head.

3. Adapt any Greek play to a modern setting.

4. Write moody relationship dramas about the immense, incalculable disasters of hurricane Katrina or 9/11.

5. Base their plots on the death of a baby.

6. Open their plays with an overly explanatory direct-address monologue which summarizes the conflict of the play.

7. Stuff a play with colorful stage directions that are hilarious in a reading but have no possibility of appearing on stage. (Similarly, no director may suggest: “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if someone read the stage directions aloud in the production?”)

8. Write about the president or any current unresolved political situation.

9. Use more than one moment of magical realism.

10. Refer to their dialogue as “poetic” or “influenced by the rhythms of jazz.”

It is the Guild’s hope that these new statues will prevent theatre-goers from throwing up in their hands and never coming to the theatre again.

Please forward.

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More Smith (with a photo by our own Kelly O) here.