CMU School of Drama

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Top 10* Most-Produced Plays of the 2016-17 Season

AMERICAN THEATRE: Every year, American Theatre receives a flurry of season submissions from TCG member theatres, which we use to calculate our Top 10 Most-Produced Plays and our Top 20 Most-Produced Playwrights lists. While not the most comprehensive imaginable measure of popularity, these numbers provide a handy snapshot of the nation’s preeminent plays and playwrights, and of what kinds of plays take precedence in today’s theatre field.

10 comments:

Sarah Battaglia said...

Well I wasn't expecting Hand To God to be at the top of the list but I am happily surprised. I would be interested to see how that list breaks down based on parts of the country. I am from a part of the U.S. where there isn't much, if any censoring of material based on content. My high school did Spring Awakening and Avenue Q while I was there. We were constantly pushing the boundaries on what was appropriate and it never hurt anyone. I think it's important that we start to break down what theater people see in different areas. I would also like to see a list of what theater was popular in other countries, and age groups. Too often we focus on American theater as the only from of theater there is, when in fact every culture has a form of theater, most are very different from our own. I enjoy most of the shows on this list but very few of them push at what a new and culturally interesting. The change of what shows we do and how people think about art, and then culture happens through the theater we produce in small regional houses. Next year I would like to see this list a little more diverse, and a little more risky.

Claire Krueger said...

I was initially curious to see how they had collected the data and was a little put off by the information collection system. It tends to be more established theaters and I was expecting middle school and high school theater to be included in the calculations. I mean counting those two divisions there must be more that 411 theaters. I feel like if the entire theater community was somehow involved in the statistic it would be much more interesting, especially seeing multiple schools do similar productions that are years past made.

Also I'm slightly confused as to why Charles Dicken's a Christmas Carol wasn't included.

Aubrey Sirtautas said...

This is a pretty cool analysis of the shows being performed annually. It is also nice to see the trends and cycles that occur over the years in programming. I do find it interesting that they remove Shakespeare and A Christmas Carol from the rankings because they are produced with essentially the same frequency annually and with very little change. I would be curious to see if the overall list of plays could be broken down by type, genre, or issues addressed and then analyzed for changes over time as well. It might give interesting insight into the political and artistic culture of the times the plays were produced. I would not be surprised that many of those trends are cyclical as well. It would also not surprise me to find that many of the top 10 exist in the top 10 because of their entertainment value over political impression. This would also give use information on the preferences of theatres and when theatres prefer humor and entertainment over impact and vice versa.

Mary Frances Candies said...

What interests me the most in this line up is the resurgence of A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. A Raisin in the Sun premiered in 1959, and has had various waves of popularity since then. What particularly intrigues me about this particular resurgence is its possible relation to the current racial tension in the United States. There is no hiding it anymore, the United States is going through a period of racial tension and conflict that is demanding a refurbishing of the entire system. I understand theatres throughout the country wanting to produce A Raisin in the Sun as a way to show how long we, as the U.S., have been fighting the same racial battle. I wonder, however, if it is time to give more new African American playwrights a chance to voice their opinion on the issue? Is it time to tell a different story in a different way?

Claire Farrokh said...

Well that is a very interesting assortment of plays. I definitely was not expecting Hand to God to be first. Honestly I was not really expecting any of the shows on this list, but I am pleasantly surprised. I am also really glad that one of my favorite shows, Peter and the Starcatcher, is on this list. Though I would like to know where it is being produced because I have not heard of any productions since the national tour. I think this is a very interesting article but I wish it had a bit more information. Like Sarah said, I think it would be very very interesting to see what shows are most requested by region or by state, and how much crossover there is. I also think it would be interesting if high schools were included in this (since I am assuming they are not), or even if they did a completely separate list for high schools, so we could see exactly how many schools did Guys and Dolls in a given year. Overall, very interesting article but I wish there was more.

Zak Biggins said...

This was such a fun read! I loved seeing such a unique group of plays! I love most of those titles! I would be interested in seeing what the demographic of these theatres presenting plays. I was taken aback to see Raisin on the list. Although, it is an incredible show! I am curious to see how many musicals are being produced this season. Hand to God looks hilarious and I hope to see it this year because its clearly well represented. I hope to see unique takes on each piece. I love watching productions that have done some really cool conceptual work. I love when directors reinvent the text by bringing completely new ideas to the table. Although, i love the rush associated with tech week.

Ali Whyte said...

I think lists and information like this are very interesting and can be helpful in determining what range in general people are doing or people are looking for in a given season, but I think that if a list is going to be titles "The Top 10* Most-Produced Plays of the 2016-17 Season" they should include theatre of all levels. I was, at first, very confused by this list as I had expected many more of the "classics" to be more towards the top, which was much of my experience in high school and middle school theatre. Because of this, I went to the TCG website, and only then did I learn that this list only includes community, professional,and university theatres. While I think it is interesting which shows are largely being produced in the higher levels, I think that a more comprehensive version, including lower level and amateur theatre, would have been much more insightful.

William Lowe said...

I think this list is very, very important and says a lot about the state that theatre is currently in around the country — a state which I think is very good. The part of this list that I like is the wide range of shows which exist on it. You have modern comedies like Hand to God, modern plays for kids like Peter and the Starcatcher. There is a modern historical play with King Charles III and commentary on modern society with Sex with Strangers. Beyond all of this though, the classics still exist. Especially one as important as A Raisin in the Sun. Two Shakespeare plays are close to the top list as well which is wonderful. There is one thing which really caught my eye. This list is a compilation of almost 2,000 plays; however, the play topping the list — Hand to God — only have 13 productions over the course of the year recorded. I think that this is a wonderful thing because that implies the range of shows being produced across the country and how few companies are repeating others.

Ben McCormack said...

I don't know why but I'm really struck by a statement by the most produced playwright this year. At the end of the article Robert Askins was asked how he felt about having the most-produced plat in America. To which he responded, “totally shocked [...] I think that the puppet play, especially the aggressive, religious, sexual puppet play, is just not a genre we have in the American theatre. So to see people embrace it—I’m into it"

Immediately I thought of Avenue Q, Little Shop of Horrors and The Lion King. All three of which have been very successful , all with puppets, and two specifically being very aggressive, religious and/or sexual. Maybe I'm crazy or reading entirely too much into his statement, but Mr. Askins seems kind of out of touch with American Theatre if he thinks puppet plays are not a genre that exists in American theatre. As I read even deeper into this it makes me wonder through what lens I am examining his statement and why I am fixating on his potential out of touch-ness. I assume it might be the recent events in the US centered around race-relations. He is a cis-white man who seems to have a tinge of narcissism when regarding his play as the only one in a genre of puppet play that deals with aggression, sex and religion. His is not the only one, it's just the one that America is fixated on in this moment.

Galen shila said...

Interesting list. Its neat that some of the classics are not on the top ten but it makes sense. it seems there is a contagious to popularity so when a few theaters do a show that popular a whole bunch will end up doing it. this is most obvious with high school theaters but can still be seen on the professional level.

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