In 2013, 13 women hailing from Los Angeles banded together to form The Kilroys, who coyly announce, “We make trouble. And plays.” Named after the graffiti soldiers used to declare their presence during World War II, The Kilroys are playwrights and producers looking to end the underrepresentation of female-identified voices in the American theater scene.
In U.S. professional theater, men dominate the stage. The New York Times revealed that not a single new play in the Broadway 2013-2014 season was female-written, and no new plays so far for the 2014-2015 season are woman-penned either. The statistics for other cities aren’t much more promising. In Washington, D.C., only 26 percent of plays are produced and 34 percent directed by women in the 2013-2014 season. According to another study, in Los Angeles only 16 percent of professional theatrical shows are female written and/or directed for the 2013-2014 season. Since 2000, the Tony Award for Best Direction has only been given to a woman four times, and Best Direction of a Musical has been given to a woman just twice since 2000.
To help alleviate this gender inequality, The Kilroys recently released the most recommended new plays of female authorship. Professionals, including literary managers, professors, producers, directors and dramaturgs, anonymously recommended three to five woman-written plays. Out of more than 300 plays suggested, the top 46 were compiled to create a list, which The Kilroys hope will be used as a reference for those in charge of choosing shows for the upcoming season.
Playwright and Kilroy member Sheila Callagan told the Times, “We’ve had a lot of conversations with artistic directors who defend their season lineups by complaining they have no access to quote-unquote good plays written by females or people identifying as female.” By annually producing “the list,” (based on Franklin Leonard’s yearly published “Black List” of unproduced Hollywood screenplays), The Kilroys leave no room for ignorance or excuses from major theater leaders.
Check out the list yourself—have you seen any of these plays? How about recommending the list to your local community theater group?
Photo taken from The Kilroys website
Sarah Collins is a sophomore at USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. She will be interning for Ms. in the fall.