DOES YOUR SHOW NEED RIGHTS?
If it’s anything from the last 100 years, the most likely answer is yes. Anything student-written or really, really old generally doesn’t need rights. So check that first.
WHO OWNS THE RIGHTS TO YOUR SHOW?
The next step is to find out who owns the rights to your play. In general the rights can be found at either Dramatist Play Service (www.dramatist.com) or Samuel French (www.samuelfrench.com). Some shows are provided by other companies–if your show isn’t sold by DPS or Sam French, don’t fret! Generally we can purchase rights from any company, DPS and Sam French are just the most common.
On the left hand side of the website is their browser bar. Under ‘plays’ you can use the Playfinder to find your play and it’s rights pricing plus any restrictions it’s under (extra to use a certain song in the play, a no cutting rule, etc…). To find out if rights are available go to the bottom and click ‘contact us’ and call their offices in New York (phone number: 212-683-8960). Ask them if rights for your play are currently available in Massachusetts for a non-professional performance.
Use their search box in the upper right corner to find your play and rights pricing. There’s also a nifty map under ‘Now Playing’ which shows where current or potential future shows are going up. If nothing is going up in the New England area for your show there is a good chance rights are available. However it’s not guaranteed. To find out rights availability, call the number in the upper right corner (1-866-598-8449) or live-chat with an employee. Ask them if nonprofessional rights are available for your show in the Massachusetts area.
Once you know the rights are available, your job is done! If your pitch is accepted, the Treasurer takes care of reserving and purchasing the rights.