Dramatists Play Service, the theatrical licensing and publishing agency established in 1936 that represents the stage’s most prominent playwrights, has been acquired by Broadway Licensing in what the companies are calling a landmark deal.
Broadway Licensing, a full-service theatrical licensing partner specializing in the development, production and global distribution of new and established theatrical properties, will now house DPS under its brand line. Playwrights now represented under this newly formed umbrella include Ayad Akhtar, Edward Albee, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Christopher Durang, Horton Foote, Richard Greenberg, Katori Hall, Beth Henley, George S. Kaufman, Tracy Letts, Martyna Majok, Donald Margulies, Terrence McNally, Arthur Miller, Lynn Nottage, Eugene O’Neill, Susan-Lori Parks, John Patrick Shanley, Alfred Uhry, Paula Vogel, Wendy Wasserstein, Tennessee Williams, Lanford Wilson and Doug Wright.
The deal was announced today by Sean Cercone, CEO/President, Broadway Licensing, and David J. Moore, Acting President, Dramatists Play Service. As part of the deal, DPS will continue to serve plays and playwrights while Broadway Licensing will host DPS’ musicals.
“Dramatists Play Service is, by any measure, one of the crown jewels of theatrical licensing and publishing,” Cercone said. “Guided since 1936 by a mission to foster national opportunities for playwrights, DPS has never wavered from this goal. I couldn’t be prouder to welcome DPS to the Broadway Licensing family, and I’m excited for what the future holds and the tremendous impact our collective team will bring to the industry.
Said Moore, “At this time of unprecedented peril to our industry, this agreement protects the future of Dramatists Play Service. Equally important is the range of exciting synergistic opportunities that Sean has brought to the table, which will allow us to better serve our authors and their titles, as well as the community at large.
When founded by various playwrights and theater agents, DPS was designed to foster national opportunities for playwrights by publishing affordable editions of their plays and managing the performing rights to those works. Today, DPS offers a long list of titles that includes many of the most important pieces of the last century, according to the agency.
The first acquisition under the new umbrella is that of Keenan Scott II Thoughts of a colored man, the acclaimed play slated for an upcoming Broadway production.
As part of the deal, Broadway Licensing established a $2.5 million New Works Fund to license, commission and develop new works. Broadway Licensing also announced that it has created Stageworks Productions, an in-house content development division designed to work with interested authors and underlying rights holders to create new copyrights in authors’ works with the goal of extend the life of copyrights and the value of their brand.
Broadway Licensing will also form a three-person advisory committee to consult on promoting and expanding opportunities for new writers and underlying rights holders. The inaugural committee members are Lynn Nottage, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and Michael Korie.
“Our collective goal is to keep writers’ voices at the forefront, respecting DPS’s original mission,” the advisory board said in a joint statement. “We look forward to continuing our work with Broadway Licensing to increase the visibility of playwrights on stages across the country and expand the work we see to include more stories, voices and experiences.”
Speaking on behalf of the Agents Trust, Patrick Herold, Partner and Head of Theater at ICM Partners, said: “Since its inception, Agents have worked with playwrights and estates for the benefit and protection of literature. drama that is the foundation of American Theater. Together, as DPS, we built the industry’s first catalog and created an iconic brand. We now entrust that catalog to Sean Cercone and his team with all of our confidence in a vibrant future for the company and its legacy.
Andrew Lippa and Rachel Routh, respectively President and Executive Director of the Dramatists Guild Foundation, added: “DGF believes that the writer is at the center of our community, in line with the founding principle of DPS. Broadway Licensing will continue this mission by managing this acclaimed catalog to reflect an inclusive theatrical landscape.
DPS was represented by Dan Wasser and Nick Gordon of Franklin, Weinrib, Rudell and Vassallo PC. The Dramatists Guild Foundation was represented by Doug Nevin of Nevin Law Group PLLC. Broadway Licensing was represented by Shulman Rogers and Levine Plotkin & Menin, LLP.