Dramatists Play Service, the theatrical licensing and publishing agency formed in 1936 that represents scores the stage’s most prominent playwrights, has been acquired by Broadway Licensing in what the companies are calling a landmark agreement.
Broadway Licensing, a full-service theatrical licensing partner specializing in the development, production and worldwide distribution of new and established theatrical properties, will now house DPS under its slate of brands. Among the dramatists now represented under this newly formed umbrella are 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.
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The deal was announced today by Sean Cercone, CEO/President, Broadway Licensing, and David J. Moore, Acting President, Dramatists Play Service. Under the deal, DPS will continue to serve plays and playwrights while Broadway Licensing will house DPS’s musicals.
“Dramatists Play Service is, by any measure, one of the jewels in the theatrical licensing and publishing crown,” said Cercone. “Guided since 1936 by a mission to foster national opportunities for playwrights, DPS has never wavered from that aim. I couldn’t be prouder to welcome DPS into 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, “During this time of unprecedented peril for our industry, this deal safeguards the future of Dramatists Play Service. Equally important is the range of thrilling 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.”
At its founding by various playwrights and theater agents, DPS was designed to foster national opportunities for playwrights by publishing affordable editions of their plays and handling the performance rights to these works. Today, DPS offers an extensive list of titles that includes many of the most significant plays of the past century, the agency says.
The first acquisition in under the new umbrella is Keenan Scott II’s Thoughts of a Colored Man, the acclaimed play scheduled for an upcoming Broadway production.
As part of the deal, Broadway Licensing has established a $2.5 million New Works fund earmarked to acquire rights, commission and develop new works. Broadway Licensing also announced that it has created Stageworks Productions, an internal content development division designed to work with interested authors and underlying rights holders to create new copyrights of authors’ works with the goal of extending the life of copyrights and value of their brand.
Broadway Licensing also will form a three-person Advisory Committee to consult on nurturing 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, upholding DPS’ original mission,” said the Advisory Committee in a joint statement. “We look forward to continuing our work with Broadway Licensing to strengthen visibility for 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 founding, agents have worked with playwrights and estates for the benefit and protection of the dramatic literature that is the foundation of the American Theatre. Together as DPS we built the premiere catalog in the industry and created an iconic imprint. We are now entrusting that catalog to Sean Cercone and his team with our full confidence in a vibrant future for the company and its legacy.”
Andrew Lippa and Rachel Routh, President and Executive Director of the Dramatists Guild Foundation, respectively, added, “DGF believes that the writer is at the center of our community, in alignment with the founding principle of DPS. Broadway Licensing will carry this mission forward as they steward this celebrated 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.
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