Monday, January 11, 2010

Top 11 Plays of the 2000s

Terry Teachout mined the TCG database for the most produced plays from 2000-2001 to 2009-2010. Here is the list -- number in parentheses is the number of productions:

Proof by David Auburn (54)
Doubt by John Patrick Shanley (48)
Art by Yasmina Reza (45)
The Drawer Boy by Michael healey (36)
Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire (33)
Wit by Margaret Edson (29)
I Am My Own Wife by Doug Wright (26)
Crowns by Regina Taylor (26)
Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage (25)
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams and The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman (23 each)

Interesting, yes?

Now, after removing those who are not American or who are from a different generation, lets look at the educational background of the playwrights:

David Auburn
a. U of Chicago

b. Julliard

John Patrick Shanley
a. NYU

David Lindsay-Abaire
a. Sarah Lawrence

b. Julliard

Margaret Edson
a. Smith College

b. Georgetown U

Doug Wright
a. Yale

b. NYU

Regina Taylor
a. Southern Methodist

Lynn Nottage
a. Brown

b. Yale


Sabina E. said...

my university theatre department actually did "Intimate Apparel" in 2005 when I was a student there.

The Director said...


Did you happen to go to Southern Miss? I applied to grad school there, took a tour of the campus with the theatre head, and they were in rehearsal for that production while I was there.


So the Nylachi group has the most produced plays... so what? Nylachi, as you've pointed out many times, holds the most theatre people.. it would hold that these people have the most exposure and ability to get their shows produced, as everyone is either already in Nylachi or knows someone who is.

Seems to me like one of your goals should be to figuring out how to build networks and marketing strategies for regional theatres. Nylachi already has theirs in place, and they're dominating. What's the solution here? And taking down Nylachi isn't a solution.

My brother and I are on opposite of the political spectrum. He rages against the current administration. I blithely suggest he moves to Canada, but of course I know he won't. No one really wants to leave.

Nobody really wants Broadway to disappear, so tearing down Nylachi isn't a possible solution. Given that supposition, what's the solution?

Scott Walters said...

Actually, Director, this refers to the discussion concerning the small number of theatre programs through which many of the most=produced playwrights have gone through. And the lack of diversity that implies. Several people in the previous discussion have question whether there is any proof of this narrowing. I offer that list as an indication.

The insistence of a jump to a solution is a way of short-circuiting the discussion. The first step is to acknowledge that there is a problem. Yes, Nylachi is dominating -- and how is that working for us? I think there seems to be consensus that there a big problems. So we need to recognize the shape of those problems, and where they come from. Part of the problem is education.

Don't be so sure nobody really wants to tear down broadway. That said, Broadway is irrelevant.

Howard said...

Pretty interesting list.

Most of them (Nottage excepted) seem to have come up through Public school systems prior to college.

Shanley and Lindsay-Abaire are from blue collar Boston households. Edson (who hasn't had a 2nd play produced yet) is the daughter of a Medical Social Worker. Several hail from midwestern and western states (Illinois, Ohio, Arkansas, Texas).

Not to discount the importance of someone's background - we all know it makes a huge difference to the opportunities one gets in life, but... it doesn't seem so cut and dried.

One could read this list as suggesting there's a bit more class diversity at the drama departments of these schools than you're allowing for. At the very least it seems more complicated than equating Private School College and post-college degrees with privileged lives where people were born to easy success.

Do you feel these writers all write the same way?

Unknown said...

Scott, Broadway may be irrelevant in terms of the playwright discussion but it is hardly irrelevant generally. It generates billions of dollars directly and indirectly for the NYC economy.

It directly provides employment and a living wage for thousands of people, and indirectly for probably a score of people for each person employed directly -- cab drivers, dry cleaners, hotel workers etc etc.

The choices the rich make when choosing what goes on Broadway may be offensive in their mediocrity and, yes, irrelevant, in many cases. It does have relevance, though, in terms of theater people's lives, and much more, including the tunes that some people walk around humming.

Figure out a way to take the process out of the hands of the rich. Then the whole scene changes across the country.

Unknown said...

Also, I just noticed -- Moises is an American citizen I'm pretty sure. He moved here when he was a kid. Not sure how this skews things.

The Director said...

Yes, how IS Nylachi working for us? There are thousands of playwrights across the country, writing plays for hundreds, if not thousands, of theatres, large and small, across the country. So the most produced came out of Nylachi... so what? Does that diminish the production of plays that didn't come from Nylachi? Does that make the Nylachi plays less relevant, because they're more popular and the playwrights went to the same schools?

How many of your own students have written plays and had them produced around the country?

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