CHICAGO: Steppenwolf Theatre Company has announced the formation of a new resource for new plays called the Mix. Inspired by the Kilroys List, the Mix is a list of new and under-produced plays featuring marginalized characters at their center. The initial iteration comprises 208 plays by 167 writers.
Steppenwolf’s director of new play development, Polly Hubbard, said the Mix was inspired by the following questions: “Where are the plays that feature a mix of people who are all in the same world, in the same way that we as people interact in the world? Where are the plays about joy? Where are the plays about people living nuanced lives that are inherently intersectional?” Hubbard developed the list with Aaron Carter, a former artistic producer at Steppenwolf.
The list was created from plays nominated by nearly 100 theatre professionals, including playwrights, directors, and theatre administrators. Each nominator recommended up to three plays that, according to Hubbard, “feature a mix of diverse central characters who resist simple categorization and lead richly textured lives as they navigate a complex world.” On Nov. 14, Steppenwolf will randomly select a Mix winner, who will receive a no-strings-attached cash prize of $3,000.
Hubbard admits that because of the inherently broad prompt, the list is significantly longer than other lists of its kind, including the Kilroys, which lists underproduced plays by female and trans playwrights, and the 50 Playwrights Projects list for plays by Latinx artists. But that length means theatres will be able to tailor the list to their own needs.
“I see it primarily as a tool for people at theatre companies who are trying to find plays,” Hubbard says. “I am sure will also be used by a broad range of other people as well, including students and professors and community theatres with an interest in developing newer work.”
Though the Mix List stipulated that the plays focus on characters with diverse and intersectional backgrounds, there was no such criteria for the playwrights themselves. According to data released by Steppenwolf, of the playwrights in the Mix, 73.4 percent self-identified as women or gender-nonconforming, and 87.5 self-identified as people of color or mixed-race.
Hubbard says that though there’s no plans to make the Mix an ongoing project, though depending on how the list is received, that may change. In the meantime, she says, “The purpose of the Mix is to expand the kinds of plays that we as a community are considering—plays that feature characters who resist simple categorization and that help us expand the breath of the stories on our stages.”
The full list can be viewed here.