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Cutting Guidelines



Dramatic Publishing defines a cutting as: a play cut to time, with scenes in original order, with no additions, alterations, or substitutions and without character or gender changes. We can consider written requests for gender changes as a casting consideration only. All cuttings require approval. We can approve most cutting requests shortly after we receive them, but other approvals may take much longer and may require the playwright's approval. Because you are working with production/competition deadlines, please send your cutting request in early. (It can take up to eight weeks for some approvals.) Although we'll make every effort to get your cutting approved, all of our plays and musicals are protected by international copyright law, which means that any alterations, deletions or substitutions are prohibited by law except with prior written consent of the copyright holder (usually the author). Most (but not all) authors will allow their plays to be cut. Some playwrights feel so strongly about the integrity of their work that they will not approve cuts of any kind, while others will approve a cutting for competition only, and still others are happy to oblige almost all cutting requests. Any changes made after your cutting is approved must also be approved.


Remember, send your cutting requests in early; approvals can take six to eight weeks. When submitting a cutting request, remember that dialogue and characters cannot be added! Changes shall not affect the context or cultural overtones of the play or subvert the playwright's intent. If the play is a dramatization of a screenplay or novel, you cannot add additional characters, music or dialogue from that screenplay or book. You must work with what is in the play. If a play is not written as a musical, it cannot be changed into one by the addition of "musical numbers." Underscoring and transitional music may be added with our approval if the music is either original, in the public domain, or licensed through the proper agency. When applicable, check contest/festival rules, as they may be more restrictive.


Adaptations are defined as "making any changes to the text of a play so that it will conform to the requirements or circumstances or limits of your specific production." This includes adding or deleting characters (with the obvious exception of nonspeaking extras) and adding, moving, reassigning and sometimes deleting dialogue. All adaptations must be approved by the author/owner which can be time consuming for everyone involved. If you must adapt, send a written request detailing the changes you would like to make at least eight weeks in advance of your production. Writers are usually very busy and can be difficult to contact. If we require a copy of the script with all of your proposed changes clearly indicated, we will let you know. Though we try to accommodate all requests, a performance license can be issued only after we have obtained permission from the author/owner of the play. Because of this, we strongly urge you to choose a backup title that has been preapproved by the competition and the publisher (a one act or an approved excerpt) in case your request is denied or delayed beyond your deadline.


"Scenes From" applies to whole, unedited excerpts from a play. These may be an act or scene(s) from a play or all of the text from one page through another page. The production must be billed and credited as "Scenes from (Play) by (Playwright)" in all promotional material generated by the producing organization. Approved cuttings must also be billed and credited as "Scenes from (Play) by (Playwright)" and you must comply with any special billing or crediting requirements that are listed in the front of the script.


With very few exceptions, a musical may not be performed as a play without music. Therefore, you must have written permission from our office if you wish to cut any or all of the music from a musical, making sure to detail the songs you wish to omit. Remember, in most cases the songs are integral to the work and further the development of character and plot.


We hope we've covered everything, but please feel welcome to Email us or call us at (800) 448-7469 if you have any questions.