The Kilroys, an artists’ collective dedicated to advancing gender parity in the American theatre, has announced the fifth annual iteration of the List, which comprises industry-recommended, “under-produced” plays by female, trans, and non-binary writers.
This year’s list includes Lily Padilla (also a Susan Smith Blackburn Finalist this year), Ana Nogueira, Georgina Escobar, and Charly Evon Simpson.
According to Kilroys member Christina Ham, one purpose of this year’s list was to shine a light on playwrights who had never been on the list before (a departure from previous years). “What we decided to do was give some love to people who’ve never made the List before, so it didn’t feel exclusive,” she explains.
Part of making sure the process was inclusive was getting play nominators from all 50 states. The List was curated from 315 respondents, who recommended a total of 803 plays. Each could recommend multiple plays for inclusion on the list. Of those plays, those that were nominated five to 19 times made the cut. Plays that were nominated four times* were placed in the Honorable Mentions List.
This year, in another departure from previous years, the List is organized alphabetically by the last name of the playwright, instead of by which plays were nominated the most. To Ham, the rationale for this new process was to make sure playwrights who did not have agents and managers were being seen on an equal playing field with those who do.
“If you’re a playwright who has an agent and manager, your plays are being pushed all over the country,” says Ham. “And that’s different from someone who is hustling on their own. There’s always going to be outsiders to any process in theatre, and we wanted to do away with those barriers.”
According to the Count, a study funded by the Lilly Awards and the Dramatists Guild of America, from 2012 to 2015, just 22 percent of plays produced nationwide were by women, even though women make up more tha half of the U.S. population. Since 2014, the Kilroys have released the List to show that there are a variety of plays by women that have not been given enough attention. Of the 165 plays featured on the List so far, more than 100 have subsequently been produced.
Playwright Paola Lázaro-Muñoz is one of the playwrights on this year’s List, for There’s Always the Hudson. Being on the Kilroys List is “a huge honor,” she says. Lázaro-Muñoz’s plays made the Honorable Mentions list in 2017. There’s Always the Hudson will be produced next year at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., and she attributes interest in her work to the Kilroys List. “It gives visibility to writers that would otherwise not have it. They put unproduced writers and unproduced plays on the radar of artistic directors around the country, and even outside the country. That’s why it’s necessary.”
The Kilroys (now in their second iteration) comprise playwrights, directors, and producers based in Los Angeles and New York City. They are Jaclyn Backhaus, Hilary Bettis, Jennifer Chambers, Claudia de Vasco, Emma Goidel, Christina Ham, Jessica Hanna, Monet Hurst-Mendoza, Obehi Janice, Hansol Jung, Chelsea Marcantel, Caroline V. McGraw, Bianca Sams, and Gina Young.
“We’re really excited that we didn’t take the easy way out and just did what already been done,” says Ham proudly. “We felt it was important to try to open it up in a way that hasn’t been done previously.”
The full list is here, and also below:
Field Awakening by Melis Aker
John Proctor is the Villain by Kimberly Belflower
Alabaster by Audrey Cefaly
Love by Kate Cortesi
Bees and Honey by Guadalís Del Carmen
Cullud Wattah by Erika Dickerson-Despenza
[Hieroglyph] by Erika Dickerson-Despenza
Stoneheart by Georgina Escobar
The Best We Could (A Family Tragedy) by Emily Feldman
Allond(r)a by Gina Femia
Potus; Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive by Selina Fillinger
The Gap by Emma Goidel
Babel by Jacqueline Goldfinger
Model Minority by Chloé Hung
Torera by Monet Hurst-Mendoza
Before Evening Comes by Philana Imade Omorotionmwan
Ole White Sugah Daddy by Obehi Janice
Flex by Candrice Jones
Lipstick Lobotomy by Krista Knight
There’s Always the Hudson by Paola Lazaro-Munoz
This Party Sucks by Sofya Levitsky-Weitz
Room Enough (For Us All) by Daaimah Mubashshir
This Girl is Chained by Genne Murphy
Mask Only by Ana Nogueira
How to Defend Yourself by Lila Padilla
Private by Mona Pirnot
The Forest by Lia Romeo
America V. 2.1: The Sad Demist and the Eventual Extinction of the American Negro by Stacey Rose
As Is: Conversations with Big Black Women in Confined Spaces by Stacey Rose
Our Dear Dead Drug Lord by Alexis Scheer
Behind the Sheet by Charly Evon Simpson
Form of a Girl Unknown by Charly Evon Simpson
English by Sanaz Toossi
*A previous version of this article stated that plays nominated four times or less made the Honorable Mentions List. It’s actually just four.
Support American Theatre: a just and thriving theatre ecology begins with information for all. Please join us in this mission by making a donation to our publisher, Theatre Communications Group. When you support American Theatre magazine and TCG, you support a long legacy of quality nonprofit arts journalism. Click here to make your fully tax-deductible donation today!