Broadway, Take Note: These Female Playwrights of Color Should Be on Your Radar

The 2017 edition of The List, the index of underproduced female-written plays reported annually by the playwrights collective known as the Kilroys, focuses for the first time this year on plays by women and trans writers of color, tapping some 37 titles by scribes ranging from Lauren Yee (“King of the Yees”) to Heather Raffo (“Nine Parts of Desire”).

Inspired by Hollywood’s Black List, The List was launched four years ago by the Kilroys, an independent group of female, mostly L.A.-based playwrights and producers that includes Bekah Brunstetter (“This Is Us”), Tanya Saracho (“Looking,” “How to Get Away With Murder”), Laura Jacqmin (“Grace and Frankie”), Carla Ching (“Fear the Walking Dead”), and Daria Polatin (“Jack Ryan,” “Shut Eye”). The yearly list is compiled from a pool of plays nominated by hundreds of artistic directors, literary managers, dramaturges, and other theater pros from around the country.

This year, the Kilroys opted to focus specifically on works by female or trans writers of color. The move was spurred in part by the ongoing study The Count, which in 2015 found that over a three-year period, 22% of productions at America’s nonprofit theaters were written by women — and of those, less than 4% were penned by writers of color.

This year we asked ourselves what we could change that can widen and deepen the pool,” said writer Annah Feinberg, one of the founders of the Kilroys.

This year, the 273 survey respondents were asked to nominate three to five of the best plays they’ve encountered in the last year by a writer of color who identifies as female or trans. All nominated works are unproduced or have had no more than one production. The survey yielded a total of 403 plays, narrowed down to a final list of 37 (the top 9%, receiving six to 28 nominations apiece) with 49 honorable mentions.

The List’s 2017 slate encompasses plays from Inda Craig-Galván’s “Black Super Hero Magic Mama,” about a woman who retreats into fantasy after the death of her son; to Amina Henry’s “Burned,” centering on a young man who was paid to firebomb a synagogue; to Larissa FastHorse’s satirical comedy “The Thanksgiving Play.” The full list can be found on the Kilroys website.

As the new list comes out, material drawn from the 131 plays on the three previous lists has been collected in “The Kilroys List: 97 Monologues and Scenes By Female and Trans Playwrights,” recently released by Theater Communications Group.

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