Each fall, American Theatre compiles its Top 10 Most-Produced Play and Top 20 Most-Produced Playwrights lists, providing a snapshot of the most popular names and plays planned for the coming season in the U.S. These lists are culled from season lists provided by TCG member theatres each year; you can read their entire season plans (and do your own counting, if you’re ambitious) in the pages of the upcoming October issue, or check via our online database, Theatre Profiles, at tcg.org/profiles.
This year’s seasonal bounty encompasses more than 2,159 productions between Sept. 1, 2015 and Aug. 31, 2016. The information was gathered from 386 member theatres of Theatre Communications Group, who self-reported their seasons to us. From that, we made our tally—and added a few new metrics (the gender of the playwrights, for instance, the results of which will be posted next Monday, Sept. 21).
So without further ado, we present the Top 10 Most-Produced Plays of 2015–16. As usual, we excluded Shakespeare and certain holiday shows (A Christmas Carol and The Santaland Diaries), though you can easily see below how these would fare if they were included (and by the way, there are nearly as many different stage versions of Christmas Carol as there are productions, so how would you count them?). To be considered, plays needed to be fully produced with at least a week’s worth of performances.
AMERICAN THEATRE’S TOP 10 MOST-PRODUCED PLAYS OF 2015–16
- Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar: 18
- Peter and the Starcatcher, adapted by Rick Elice from Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson: 16
- Outside Mullingar by John Patrick Shanley: 11
- To Kill a Mockingbird, adapted by Christopher Sergel from Harper Lee: 9
- Buyer & Cellar by Jonathan Tolins: 9
- Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang: 8
- Mr. Burns, a post-electric play by Anne Washburn: 7
- Fences by August Wilson: 7
- Sex with Strangers by Laura Eason: 7
- Stupid Fucking Bird by Aaron Posner, inspired by Chekhov: 7
TOP SHOWS NOT ON THE TOP 10 LIST
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (all adaptations): 40
- The Santaland Diaries, adapted by Joe Mantello from David Sedaris: 10
- As You Like It by Shakespeare: 8
- Romeo & Juliet by Shakespeare: 8
THINGS WE’VE NOTICED THIS YEAR
WHERE THERE’S WILL: As noted, Shakespeare productions are excluded from these lists. But Bardophiles, rejoice: Shakespeare will again be the most-produced playwright in America, with 99 productions (including adaptations) in 2015–16.
HELLO AGAIN: Last year’s top play, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, is back, going from 27 productions in 2014–15 to a more modest 8. Other returnees are Outside Mullingar and Peter and the Starcatcher, with the latter doubling its number of productions this year (from 7 to 16). Also back on the list is August Wilson’s 1983 play Fences, which is making its first Top 10 appearance since we started making this list in 1994–95.
DIVERSITY QUOTIENT: With Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced slated to be the most-produced play in the country, this marks only the third time that a playwright of color has occupied the coveted No. 1 spot on American Theatre’s list since we began counting. Previously at the top were Lynn Nottage (Intimate Apparel in 2005–06) and Yasmina Reza (Art in 2000–01 and 2001–02).