November 3, 2009

Press contact: Diane Levinson (212-575-9265 x208)

The Longest-Running

Broadway Hit!

==Nearly Nine Full Decades in Print==

The Best Plays Theater Yearbook 2007-2008

(New York, NY) -- The 89th edition of The Best Plays Theater Yearbook, released today by Limelight Editions ($49.95, 595 pages), recounts the exciting 2007-2008 theater season, which was enhanced by the prominent presence of artists of color on the "Great White Way." Jeffrey Eric Jenkins analyzes the nature of race and its representation on Broadway in the season under consideration while discussing how nonprofit theater continues to rise as a dominant force in commercial theater. In essaying the successful revivals of Gypsy and South Pacific during the 2007-2008 season, Jenkins also traces their production histories while noting, incredulously, that neither of these classic works was considered a Best Play by the yearbook's editors during their respective seasons.

It was another emotionally unsettled season for the best in new playwriting as authors plumbed the depths of family dysfunction, longing and loss (Adding Machine, August: Osage County, Dividing the Estate, eurydice, 100 Saints You Should Know), confronted terrors of existence (The Receptionist, The Seafarer, Peter and Jerry) or questioned the nature of belief and identity (The Farnsworth Invention, Rock ’n’ Roll, Yellow Face). These plays and others are explored by some of the finest theater writers in the United States in essays that are sure to provoke commentary and controversy.

Under series editor Jenkins, the current edition honors 10 New York-based dramatic works and three plays from the resident theater while providing a collection of viewpoints on the season under review. It also offers an extensive compendium of facts, figures and historical context about the theater season in New York and around the United States. The index alone--which runs 82 pages and contains more than 13,000 items--makes this theater reference a must for libraries of every type.

Publication of The Best Plays Theater Yearbook continues a tradition dating to 1920, when Burns Mantle founded the annual series on United States theater. National reviewers have written recently of Best Plays that it provides "consummate analysis of directions in modern theater"; that "no theater enthusiast should be without it"; that it offers "scholarly" and "stylish commentary" on the original productions and the plays' literary merit; and that it "remains the smartest, most comprehensive . . . survey of American theater."

The Best Plays of 2007-2008 were chosen from Broadway, Off Broadway and Off Off Broadway productions of new plays that opened between June 1, 2007 and May 31, 2008. The choices were made by Jenkins after consultation with the Best Plays editorial board, Misha Berson, Christine Dolen, Sylviane Gold, Robert Hurwitt, John Istel, Chris Jones, Charles McNulty, Julius Novick, Christopher Rawson, Alisa Solomon, Jeffrey Sweet, Anne Marie Welsh, Linda Winer and Charles Wright. The United States resident theater is represented in new-production statistics and in essays by Dolen, Nelson Pressley and Peter Marks on plays recognized by the American Theatre Critics Association in its Steinberg New Play Award and Citations competition. Jenkins surveys the season on and Off Broadway, and Sylviane Gold covers the Off Off Broadway scene.

The Best Plays of 2007-2008 (in alphabetical order): Adding Machine by Jason Loewith and Joshua Schmidt (essayist, Jeffrey Sweet); August: Osage County by Tracy Letts (essayist, Chris Jones); Dividing the Estate by Horton Foote (essayist, Garrett Eisler); eurydice by Sarah Ruhl (essayist, Celia Wren); The Farnsworth Invention by Aaron Sorkin (essayist, Christopher Rawson); 100 Saints You Should Know by Kate Fodor (essayist, John Istel); The Receptionist by Adam Bock (essayist, David Cote); Rock ’n’ Roll by Tom Stoppard (essayist, Charles Wright); The Seafarer by Conor McPherson (essayist, Charles McNulty); Yellow Face by David Henry Hwang (essayist, Dan Bacalzo). In addition to the usual 10, Edward Albee's Peter and Jerry--now known as At Home at the Zoo--is honored with a Special Citation in an essay by Michael Sommers. Each of the Best Plays of 2007-2008 is illustrated by photographic highlights from the honored production.

The Best Plays Theater Yearbook 2007-2008 is generously supported

by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust