This year’s analysis of the 2014-15 DC theater season continues the pattern established last year. It covers playwright and director demographics, and it also investigates the plays themselves to a modest extent. I completed the analysis in collaboration with fellow DC playwright David Mitchell Robinson.
For reference, our analysis covers plays that are opening between September 1, 2014 and August 31, 2015. Wherever possible, the data we’ve presented below have been compared with numbers from previous years’ analyses. In some cases, direct comparisons are possible, but in others—because the nature of the analysis has changed—we are only able to make rough approximations. The data, to be perfectly clear, cover 192 productions at 52 theaters.
If there are any questions about any of our statistical methods, we are happy to entertain them.
Of the plays produced in DC in the 2014-15 season, 71% were written by men, 29% by women. For the sake of comparison, here are those numbers alongside similar data from the previous two seasons: 2014-15: 71% men, 29% women; 2013-14: 74% men, 26% women; 2012-13: 79% men, 21% women. There seems to be a clear trend toward increasing gender parity.
The racial breakdown of the playwrights whose plays were included in DC in the 2014-15 season is as follows: 82% are white, 11% are African American, 4% are Latino, 2.5% are Asian American, and .5% are Arab American. Again, there seems to be a small trend toward diversity/inclusion: 2014-15: 18% playwrights of color; 2013-14: 15% playwrights of color; 2012-13: 14% playwrights of color.
Finally, of the playwrights whose plays are being produced in DC in the 2014-15 season, 16% are residents of the DC metropolitan area. In 2013-14, the number was 14%, and in 2012-13, the number was 16%. Generally speaking, there seems to be no clear trend.
Of the plays being produced in DC in the 2014-15 season, 66% are being directed by men, 34% by women. These are the same numbers from the previous 2013-14 season.
The racial breakdown of the directors in the 2014-15 season is as follows: 87% are white; 9% are African American; 2% are Latino; 1% are Asian American; and 1% are multi-ethnic. Last year, the numbers were largely (but not entirely) similar: 87% white; 6% African American; 5% Latino; 1% Asian American; and 1% multi-ethnic.
Finally, of the directors included in the 2014-15 season, 72% are residents of the DC metropolitan area. Last year, the number was 75%
Of the plays being produced in DC in the 2014-15 season: 27% will be having their world premieres; 6% will be having their second or third productions; and of the remaining plays, 45% were written by living playwrights and 22% by dead playwrights. By comparison, in the 2013-14 season, we saw 21% world premieres, 9% second or third productions, 47% living playwrights, and 23% dead playwrights.
Another way to consider the same data points: in the 2014-15 season, 33% of the plays appearing on DC stages are new, if we define “new” plays as those receiving their first, second, or third productions. (This is, very roughly speaking, the widely-accepted definition used by the National New Play Network.) In the 2013-14 season, that number was 30%. This represents a modest trend toward the production of new plays.
A full 78% of the plays being produced in the 2014-15 season, furthermore, were written by living playwrights. In the 2013-14 season, that number was 77%, which represents essentially no change.