This year, when I finished calculating the Top 20 Most-Produced Playwrights list for 2017-18, and saw who was at the top, I let out a laugh. “Of course!” I exclaimed. I was not surprised by the name at the top; she had been on it last year, at No. 2, just under August Wilson. It was almost poetic.
Lauren Gunderson was vacationing in Italy when we contacted her to say she’d graduated to the top of our most-produced play list. “This is incredible news on so many levels,” she said over email.
It’s also incredible considering the amount of productions that were surveyed. This year American Theatre received a total of 380 season submissions from TCG member theatres, which is made up of some of the largest non-profit theatres in the country.
From a total of 2,270 production entries they submitted, we excluded any readings and workshops, only counting full productions with at least a week’s worth of performances, for a final tally that numbered 1,917. For our Top 10 and 20 lists, following a long tradition, we discounted all productions of A Christmas Carol and plays by Shakespeare (which would top both lists every year, making them much less inclusive). So who else made it to our list alongside Gunderson?
Below is the Top 20 Most-Produced Playwrights of 2017-18. Our Top 10 Most-Produced Plays list can be found here.
TOP 20 MOST-PRODUCED PLAYWRIGHTS OF 2017-18
- Lauren Gunderson: 27
(including 8 co-writing credits)
- Simon Stephens: 19
- Lee Hall: 15
- Lisa Kron: 15
(including 13 co-writing credits)
- Dominique Morisseau: 15
- Arthur Miller: 14
- Ayad Akhtar: 13
- Quiara Alegría Hudes: 10
(including 5 co-writing credits)
- Jordan Harrison: 10
- Ken Ludwig: 9
- Tennessee Williams: 9
- August Wilson: 9
(not including UniSon by UNIVERSES, which uses Wilson’s poetry)
- Branden Jacobs-Jenkins: 9
- Kate Hamill: 9
- Lucas Hnath: 9
- Aaron Posner: 8
- Eugene O’Neill: 8
- Lorraine Hansberry: 8
- Mark St. Germain: 8
- Oscar Wilde: 8
OF NOTE THIS YEAR
SHE’S THE TOP: For the third year in a row, Lauren Gunderson is on our Top 20 list. Last season she was No. 2, behind August Wilson. Now she’s leapt to No. 1, despite having only two major New York City stagings (and no plays in wide circulation this season). It’s Gunderson’s America; we just live in it. “This is a breathtaking landmark for me, because it is a testament to long-standing friendships and creative partnerships throughout our diverse and inspiring national theatre community,” said Gunderson. “I hope this is another encouraging and motivating moment for women in theatre as well. Stories by and about women can and must be produced across the country to complete the deep generational narrative that our art form so uniquely puts forth. Stories by and about women aren’t just for women but for all of us.”
A WHOLE NEW WORLD: After years of domination by Stephen Sondheim, the most-produced composer in the U.S. this season will be Alan Menken, with 21 productions.
HE’S STILL HERE: While he is no longer the most-produced composer in America, Sondheim is our most-produced lyricist, with 17 productions (including co-writing credits).
ABOUT THE BARD: Shakespeare remains the most-produced playwright in the country, with 108 productions (including various adaptations). And this year his most-produced play will be Twelfth Night with 9 productions.
Edited: Listen to our audio interview with Gunderson here, live at the Drama Book Shop in New York City.