The Dramatists Guild of America has created an inclusion rider for its writers to negotiate for greater diversity in theatrical productions.
The rider is an optional tool for members of the trade association to use when entering into contract agreements with theaters or producers. It is intended to promote a more equitable work environment by asking producers to audition or interview members of marginalized groups whenever possible for roles in the cast and crew, on the creative team members and as artistic personnel.
The Dramatists Guild represents playwrights, composers, lyricists and librettists. The rider can be used with Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters or producers, as well as at venues across the U.S.
“By providing this voluntary resource and tool to our members, the Guild hopes to provide an effective option for writers to use to ensure that our value systems are aligned with our producing collaborators and that our authorial rights to assemble our creative teams and casts are upheld,” said Christine Toy Johnson, chair of the Guild’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.
The creation of the rider is part of an ongoing initiative within the Guild to examine and find solutions to systematic biases in the theater industry. And it comes after a greater push for equity within the theater industry, which has included the creation of new groups to diversify the pipeline and to challenge existing structures.
“I hope to see every writer and every producer I know rocking a ‘Black Lives Matter’ or ‘Stop Asian Hate’ decal on their profile pics putting this rider to use. It’s a great way to put principles into practice,” said Chisa Hutchinson, a Guild member who worked on the task force to create the rider.
Each theater writer can tailor the rider to fit his or her individual needs and the production. The Dramatists Guild said the rider can be used either as a reference, as part of a contract or as a means to start a conversation on hiring practices. The rider language itself is subject to evolve.
The idea of an inclusion rider gained greater public awareness in 2018, when actor Frances McDormand encouraged others in Hollywood to adopt the practice while accepting an Academy Award.