Dramatists Play Service, the theatrical publishing and licensing house, has reached a deal to be acquired by Broadway Licensing. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of March 2021. The move signals that the drama publishing world is being impacted by the forces of consolidation.
“We believe this news assures a more secure future for the DPS catalog and for its stakeholders — playwrights, estates and agents alike,” David J. Moore, acting CEO of Dramatists Play Service, and Sean Cercone, CEO and president of Broadway Licensing, wrote in a joint letter obtained by Variety.
Moore did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment, but a spokesperson for Broadway Licensing confirmed the move, writing “We are very excited about the acquisition.”
In the letter, Dramatists Play Service says that the move was partly inspired by the challenges facing the theater business posed by coronavirus. It’s a public health crisis that has brought Broadway and other centers of the live events industry to their knees, dramatically reducing the fees that can be garnered for licensing plays and musicals to theater companies around the world.
“During the past nine months, the company has endeavored to meet its obligations to writers, customers, agents, vendors and employees,” the letter reads. “To do so has required sacrifice, resourcefulness, forbearance and tremendous care. Yet it became evident to the management and board that further steps would be needed to safeguard the future and continue building an active, vibrant and innovative approach to servicing our authors and their titles.”
Dramatists Play Services controls licensing rights to plays by Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Arthur Miller, Nilo Cruz, Bess Wohl, Edward Albee, David Henry Hwang, Suzan-Lori Parks, Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, Matthew Lopez, Lynn Nottage, Terrence McNally, Paula Vogel, John Patrick Shanley and Tracy Letts, among other prominent names. The company was founded in 1936.
Under the deal, Dramatists Play Services will continue to oversee productions of plays and playwrights, while Broadway Licensing will become the new home for musicals currently under the Dramatists banner.
As part of the deal, Dramatists Play Services told stakeholders that “significant funds” have been earmarked by Broadway Licensing for new play acquisitions under the its banner in order to ensure “it will remain a vital imprint in the industry in the years ahead.”
This story was updated on Dec. 18, 2020 to include a more comprehensive list of playwrights represented by Dramatists Play Services.