For the second year in a row Lucas Hnath’s “A Doll’s House, Part 2” will be the most produced play in the country this season, according to American Theater magazine. But the strong presence of women and playwrights of color on two indicative lists the publication announced on Wednesday show that the theater landscape continues to diversify.
Each year the magazine identifies the 10 most produced plays and the 20 most produced playwrights by surveying almost 400 theaters. Holiday productions and works by Shakespeare are not included.
This year one list contains an important first. Larissa FastHorse’s “The Thanksgiving Play,” a comedy presented last fall at Playwrights Horizons, is the first work by a Native American or indigenous playwright to appear among the year’s most produced plays.
The show, which will be done at eight more theaters this season, is about a group of white liberal teaching artists struggling to put together a Thanksgiving pageant sensitive to Native Americans.
“I honestly never expected to be on this list as a Native American playwright, and that’s really sad,” Ms. FastHorse said in an interview on Wednesday. “The exciting thing is that I think this proves what many of us native playwrights have been saying for decades: Americans wants to see these plays, they want to hear about indigenous issues and learn more about the original history of this country.”
The list of most produced playwrights in the 2019-20 season features 12 women and 10 men, and is as racially diverse as it’s ever been . Six of the 22 writers are playwrights of color, including Dominique Morisseau, Lynn Nottage and Quiara Alegría Hudes, not to mention August Wilson.
Lauren Yee, an Asian-American playwright who won Horton Foote Prize for outstanding new American play in 2018, is the second most produced writer (following Lauren Gunderson, who topped the list for the second time in three years.)
Eighteen productions of Ms. Yee’s plays are set for this season, with her “Cambodian Rock Band” and “The Great Leap” each getting numerous slots.
For Ms. Yee, appearing on the lists says as much about the state of acting as it does about her own work. “Not only does this speak to writing that moves people, but also to a really deep and wide Asian-American acting pool.” She added: “I couldn’t do it without them.”
Teresa Eyring, the executive director of Theatre Communications Group, which publishes American Theater, was cautiously optimistic about the results of the survey.
“The encouraging statistics from the past few years gives us hope that, while far from complete, the work of visionary artists and activists have brought us closer to a field that equitably reflects the diversity of our country,” she said in a statement.
Last year 27 productions of Mr. Hnath’s sequel to “A Doll’s House” were projected by American Theater. This season there will be 12 more, still enough to put it at the top of the list, tied with “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” a Tony-winning adaptation by the British playwright Simon Stephens.
The most produced musical will be “Bright Star,” a collaboration between Steve Martin and Edie Brickell which had a short run on Broadway but looks to be attractive outside of New York, given its notable creators and bluegrass score.
The full lists can be found at AmericanTheatre.org.