The Best Plays Theater Yearbook




SPECIAL CITATION FOR [title of show]


NEW YORK (August 11, 2009) -- Continuing a tradition that dates back to 1920, when Burns Mantle founded the annual Best Plays Theater Yearbook, the Best Plays of 2008-2009 were announced today by editor Jeffrey Eric Jenkins.


For the 90th edition, to be published by Limelight Editions in 2010, the annual chronicle of United States theater honors 10 new works. In addition to the Best Plays of 2008-2009, the volume also honors three regional plays cited in the Harold and Mimi Steinberg New Play Awards and Citations competition, which is administered by the American Theatre Critics Association. As always, the Best Plays Theater Yearbook will continue to build its ongoing theater history project with a comprehensive collection of facts and figures about the year in United States theater.


The Best Plays of 2008-2009 were chosen from Broadway, Off Broadway and Off Off Broadway productions of new plays that opened between June 1, 2008 and May 31, 2009. The choices were made by the editor after consultation with the Best Plays Theater Yearbook editorial board, which includes 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. Robert Brustein is consulting editor to the series.


Jenkins, who will survey the Broadway and Off Broadway season, noted "longtime observers of the Best Plays series may recall that for the 1996-97 through 1999-2000 seasons, under the previous editor, only six plays were honored in each edition and five of those were required to have won the major New York playwriting prizes (Tony Award, Pulitzer Prize, etc.). Therefore, many plays such as one of this year's honorees, The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh, were never in the conversation. Beginning with the 2008-2009 season, plays that received their New York premieres during those four so-called 'Major Award-Winners' seasons, now may be considered for inclusion." In addition to the 10 New York premieres honored, the talented duo of Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell are honored with a Special Citation for [title of show], the metamusical that changed substantially between its Off Broadway and Broadway productions. Veteran theater critic Michael Sommers will examine how this latest Little Musical That Could evolved from jokey trifle into a clever and substantial exploration of the creative process in the musical theater. For the 90th edition, George Jean Nathan Award winner Sylviane Gold will explore the Off Off Broadway scene in search of highlights for the annual OOB overview.


Each of the Best Plays of 2008-2009 will be celebrated in an essay to be published in The Best Plays Theater Yearbook 2008-2009. The Best Plays of 2008-2009 (in alphabetical order):


Becky Shaw by Gina Gionfriddo (essayist, Charles Wright)

Billy Elliot by Lee Hall and Elton John (essayist, Una Chaudhuri)

Blasted by Sarah Kane (essayist, Alisa Solomon)

The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh (essayist, John Istel)

God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza (essayist, Christopher Rawson)

The Good Negro by Tracey Scott Wilson (essayist, Jill Dolan)

reasons to be pretty by Neil LaBute (essayist, Dan Bacalzo)

Ruined by Lynn Nottage (essayist, Awam Amkpa)

33 Variations by Moisés Kaufman (essayist, Nelson Pressley)

Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them by Christopher Durang (essayist, Garrett Eisler)



[title of show] by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell (essayist, Michael Sommers)





(Administered by the American Theatre Critics Association)

New Play Award ($25,000): Song of Extinction by E.M. Lewis (essayist, Elizabeth Maupin)

Produced by Moving Arts in Los Angeles, California

Citation ($7,500): Great Falls by Lee Blessing (essayist, Julie York Coppens)

Produced by Actors Theatre of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky

Citation ($7,500): Superior Donuts by Tracy Letts (essayist, Chris Jones)

Produced by Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, Illinois


Mailing address: Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, Best Plays Theater Yearbook, 825 President Street, Brooklyn, NY 11215. Phone: 718-789-5553; e-mail:; web: