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Stephen Adly Guirgis (photo by Monique Carboni); Katori Hall (photo by Marc J. Franklin)

Flannery Short List of Faith-Related Plays Includes 2 by Guirgis, Hall

A list of 200 plays dealing with faith, religion, and/or spirituality also includes work by Lucas Hnath, Ins Choi, and Mark St. Germain.

NATIONWIDE: Producer, performer, and administrator Cole Matson has released the Flannery List, a new list of recommended plays and musicals that “deal in an interesting way with faith, religion, and/or spirituality.” From the recommendations of theatremakers, Matson compiled a list comprising more than 200 nominated scripts, as well as a short list of works nominated by at least three separate nominators.

Cole Matson.

“Some of the scripts exist comfortably within the world of faith, helping us see ourselves more clearly and laugh at ourselves,” said Matson, founding executive director of the Catholic Artist Connection, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting and supporting Catholic artists, in a statement on the Flannery List website. “Some wrestle with deep questions of faith and doubts, seeking for a hard-won grace. Some violently confront religious authority and hypocrisy, and cry out their challenge to God. Some are by writers of faith, and some are not. Not every script will be suitable for every theatre, but I hope that the wide variety of scripts submitted by the nominators will enable every theatre or director to find a story that speaks to them and their audience.”

Matson asked around 75 playwrights, producers, directors, actors, and administrators for recommendations. Criteria for recommendations included excellence; engagement in some way with faith, religion, and/or spirituality; and a date of writing or first production within the last 10 years. (The latter requirement was relaxed after participant feedback.) Playwrights were able to submit their own scripts (though a nomination of themselves did not count toward the short list tally), and participants could nominate as many scripts as they’d like in an effort to provide as comprehensive as possible as resource.

While the list is named after Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor, there was no requirement for writers on the list to belong to any particular religious tradition.

“Faith is not a teddy bear that soothes your feelings—it’s a struggle to find and follow ultimate meaning,” said Matson in a statement on the Flannery List website. “I wanted plays that lived in the middle of that struggle, that faced God as the center of existence, and that knew that how we think about and relate to God defines our very being. I wanted plays that, like Jacob, wrestled with the angel, and would not let go until a blessing was bestowed.”

Lucas Hnath’s The Christians and Stephen Adly Guirgis’s The Last Days of Judas Iscariot lead the way on the 2021 Flannery Short List, with six nominations each. Lucia Frangione’s Espresso and Mark St. Germain’s Freud’s Last Session both received four nominations, while Guirgis’s Jesus Hopped the “A” Train, Ins Choi’s Kim’s Convenience, Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons, Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop (as well as her play Our Lady of Kibeho) round out the short list with three nominations each.

For the full list of the over 200 nominated scripts, or to submit a script or feedback on the list, head to the Flannery List website.

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