A Guide for Producing Stage Works on College Campuses in Turbulent Times
Plays and Musicals to Help Create a More Inclusive Canon
The National New Play Network
The National New Play Network (NNPN) is an alliance of professional theaters that collaborate in innovative ways to develop, produce, and extend the life of new plays. On this webpage, the NNPN outlines its anti-racism and anti-bias vision statement, and the actions it will be taking to ensure playwrights and those who seek plays and playwrights have access to resources which reflect the diversity of our contemporary society. Some of these actions will involve making lists of plays/playwrights available.
New Play Exchange
On its website, The New Play Exchange ® (NPX) notes that it is the world's largest digital library of scripts by living writers. The NPX, a National New Play Network program, is flipping the script on the ways in which new work is shared and discovered. Its mission is to provide an open, egalitarian platform on which writers all over the world can share their work and others can discover that work. The NPX is a National New Play Network (NNPN) project and curates lists of plays in special categories (by female playwrights, BIPOC playwrights, rural playwrights, etc.) on a regular basis. It does not currently have saved lists available, but its search capabilities allow those playwriting instructors looking for model texts to search scripts listed on the site by a wide variety of criteria. They are planning to compile their archived resources and make them available via Twitter (@newplayx).
Loyola Marymount University
Loyola Marymount University in Chicago provides a comprehensive listing of resources for playwrights who teach who and want to find model texts from diverse sources as well as creatives (directors, dramaturgs, etc.) who represent diverse backgrounds.
This resource from Concord Theatricals provides plays for scene study and classroom reading. The curator says: A few months back, a theatre professor mentioned a challenge she faced collecting scene work, saying, “We need something beyond Miller, Chekhov and Shakespeare—scenes that place women <- and students of color at the forefront.” And then she asked me, “Do you have any kind of reference that lists this kind of work?” And so, I began compiling one.
American Theatre, a publication of the Theatre Communications Group, has posted work by Susan Jonas, who designed a course surveying female playwrights from the 10th century to the 20th. Jonas explains: “Actresses started using material from class for auditions, provoking queries about the source material. I spoke on panels and presented at conferences, bringing together scholars and practitioners. Tantalized by the prospect of this hidden legacy, but at a loss as to where to begin, people started asking me for a list.”
This provocatively named website (visit the site for the story of “Eggs One Mile”) focuses on contemporary plays with roles for teenagers. Audrey Lang (playwright and curator) says: “I hope this list can be a resource for anyone who, like 17-year-old me (and 23-year-old me, and let's be real, probably 50-year-old me someday, too), is in search of truthful young characters to play, read, or produce.” Many of <- the plays deal with gender identity and have been evaluated as having a high degree of character complexity.
This fun website has 72 entries in table format which provide the name of a traditional play and then a contemporary alternative which that might replace it. Traditionalists could potentially put the classic and its upgrade in the same syllabus and ask the student to compare. Three Sisters by Chekhov becomes Sankalpan by Lina Patel. Helpful notes in the table provide additional information about the contemporary analog, including context (here, South Asian), synopses and playwright names.
You won’t be able to invite any of these playwrights to join your class via Zoom, but if your students want to know who was writing plays before 1945 besides Henrik Ibsen, this website is for you. It provides a comprehensive list of Non-Western plays, plays by Black, Indigenous, people of color, by women and by queer writers from before 1945. The stated objective of the site is to promote “study and value writers and texts that traditional theater history would rather sweep aside.” The plays are organized in a rough chronology within each country or culture of origin, which are in turn listed alphabetically. The site acknowledges a western bias, but it is set up to be continually updated, and the authors are aggressively seeking contributions with a more global perspective.
If you’re looking for Native American theatres and theatremakers, this list is for you. A product of the American Theatre, the magazine of the Theatre Communications Group, the list was compiled in partital. by Madeline Sayet, with suggestions from Randy Reinholz and with help by Jerald Raymond Pierce.
The 50 Playwrights Project made a call in Fall 2018 for unproduced plays by playwrights who identify as Latinx. They received 85 submissions, from which the committee chose the top 8 unproduced plays. (Each playwright on the list received a one-year membership into the Dramatists Guild of America.) The 50PP List is a tool for producers who are committed to updating the narrative of the American theatre to include more Latinx voices. This list, of course, can also be used by teachers. The 50 Playwrights and their work are listed here.
The Kilroys describe themselves as “a gang of playwrights and producers in LA who are done talking about gender parity and are taking action.” Every year, they provide a list which includes the results of their annual industry survey of excellent new plays by women, trans, and non-binary playwrights. It is a tool for producers committed to ending the systemic underrepresentation of women, trans, and non-binary playwrights in the American theater. The list is updated every year, but archives preserve past lists.
The UC Berkeley Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies Department
The UC Berkeley Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies Department has created a site intended to serve as a resource for theater educators and practitioners looking for a broader choice of texts and materials. The playwright profiles include a list of representative plays, a brief bio, and links to online texts or resources. They note that the directory of playwrights is by no means exhaustive and continues to be a work in progress. They encourage users to buy from black and indigenous-owned bookstores.
University Libraries at Rider University
Rider University, a private university in Lawrence Township, New Jersey, provides a list of plays by BIPOC playwrights. The site is visually compelling and features thumbnails of the covers of the published versions of the plays.
Violette Ayad has compiled a list of BIPOC plays, though the focus is on the actor. finding plays and monologues, teachers might be interested as well. Ayad provides detailed synopses of her top ten, but other plays are listed as well. The website is found on the StageMilk website. StageMilk is primarily a resource for actors, but this resource might be of interest to others.
University of Norte Dame Anti-Racist Theatre Now
In line with some other academic institutions, Notre Dame University (South Bend, Indiana) has provided a list of plays by playwrights with diverse backgrounds. The website links to a bibliography and additional resources for educators wanting more conceptual or theoretical background.
Actor Aesthetic is a blog, podcast, and online learning community designed to educate artists pursuing a career in the theatre industry. Its founder, Maggie Bera, notes: “In my 15+ years of being an actor, I have barely read or seen any productions written by African-American playwrights… let alone LGBTQ playwrights of color.” This list is designed to fill in that gap.
The Black Plays Archive is an online catalogue for the first professional production of every African, Caribbean and Black British play produced in Britain. The niche is narrow, but deep, and the website boasts an eye-popping layout that makes it interesting to browse if you have a few minutes. The site also provides lots of video clips from the referenced plays, so the clips are an education in and of themselves.
In its own words, the Honor Roll! website “is an advocacy and action group of women+ playwrights over forty—and our women+ over 40 allies—whose goal is our inclusion in theater.” The Honor Roll! website provides a directory of biographical information about the group’s members, so the educator interested in finding female playwrights in the over-forty category can browse the biographical information of over 100 members and see who is there and who might fill a gap in an overview of playwrights/model texts. The group has an active Facebook page as well for additional information.
HowlRound Theatre Commons
The Mixed Blood Theatre solicited forty theatre professionals to share plays that they feel best speak to disability in two ways: plays with theme or content on disability and/or plays with characters with disabilities. Over half of those polled self-identify as people with disabilities. In addition, medical and disability specialists were consulted and provided extensive categorization of professionally recognized disabilities that were crystalized to fewer, broader umbrellas. The results of this solicitation have been compiled and are available through the posted website. There are over twenty plays listed. There is not much information available about the specific plays, so you will need to do some additional sleuthing. Each play contains a link to an email for the writer, so you will be able to make contact via email and find out more through that channel as well.
The Dramatists Guild Institute offers hands-on, rigorous, continuing education for educators, playwrights, composers, lyricists, librettists and industry professionals. Our Fall 2023 semester began on September 10.
This fall, the Dramatists Guild is offering eleven continuing education classes for playwrights, composers, lyricists, librettists, theatre educators, and theatremakers, as well as several one day workshop intensives. Whether you're trying to tackle that elusive first draft, looking to experiment with play structure, or seeking new ways to maximize your career potential, you'll find an online course that helps you expand your talents and hone your craft.