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Broadway Licensing Has Acquired Dramatists Play Service (DPS) In Landmark Deal

Stage Directions • Industry NewsTheatre Buzz • March 23, 2021

Sean Cercone (CEO/President, Broadway Licensing) and David J. Moore (Acting President, Dramatists Play Service, Inc.) jointly announced today that their respective companies have entered into a landmark agreement under which Dramatists Play Service, Inc. (DPS) has been acquired by Broadway Licensing. DPS has been added to the Broadway Licensing slate of brands, with DPS continuing to serve plays and playwrights and Broadway Licensing becoming the new home for DPS’s slate of musicals.

In a statement, Cercone said, “Dramatists Play Service is, by any measure, one of the jewels in the theatrical licensing and publishing crown. 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.”

Moore added, “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.”

The first acquisition in this new venture is Keenan Scott II’s new work, Thoughts of a Colored Man – the first new play announced for the upcoming, post-shutdown Broadway season.

The deal also sparks a range of innovative new initiatives to better serve the theatrical community and ensure the DPS banner remains a vital brand in the industry for years to come. Broadway Licensing has established a New Works fund in the amount of $2.5 million. The fund will be used to acquire rights, commission, and develop new works that will impact the future of the American theatrical landscape. In addition, Broadway Licensing 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. Finally, Broadway Licensing has agreed to 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.

The members of the Advisory Committee said, “Our collective goal is to keep writers’ voices at the forefront, upholding DPS’ original mission. 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.”

Among the hundreds of 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.

DPS was founded by the Dramatists Guild of America and a group of theatrical agents to spotlight playwrights by publishing affordable editions of their plays and handling the performance rights to these works. The former ownership structure of DPS included a consortium of literary agents united under a Trust and The Dramatists Guild Foundation.

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 (DGF), 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.”

Formed in 1936 by a number of prominent playwrights and theatre agents, Dramatists Play Service, Inc. was created to foster national opportunities for playwrights by publishing affordable editions of their plays and handling the performance rights to these works. Dramatists Play Service, Inc. has since grown steadily to become one of the premier play-licensing and theatrical publishing agencies in the world. Offering an extensive list of titles that includes many of the most significant plays of the past century, DPS preserves the rich history of drama. Dramatists Play Service, Inc. works with thousands of theatres to ensure the future vitality of the theatre. We are committed to providing a home for established writers and to nurturing new playwrights of exceptional promise.

Broadway Licensing is a full-service theatrical licensing partner specializing in the development, production, and worldwide distribution of new and established theatrical properties. Approaching the licensing universe with a wholly personal and producorial vision, the company partners with authors, agents, and producers to harness the power derived from embracing the intersection of art and commerce. Broadway Licensing advocates for the author, committing to have as many people experience their work as possible while protecting the copyright, utilizing its pioneering digital platform, high touch servicing and cutting-edge strategies to execute that vision. As a trusted curator of important, daring, and entertaining theatre, with a dedication to diversity and inclusion, Broadway Licensing helps build experiences that are bigger than itself; where communities come together to share the ideas of an author’s work, inspiring conversations and forging memories that last a lifetime.

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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