But Teachout, looking for an angle, claims to find evidence of another bias at work: a bias toward new and newish work, and against "classics." As he notes of his Top 10 list (emphasis mine):
This is a misleading conclusion, for a number of reasons. For starters, TCG's Top-10 lists exclude plays by Shakespeare because it's not a fair fight; he handily beats the other playwrights, living or dead, year in and year out. Also, more to the point, Teachout has compiled a list of the Top 10 most-produced shows over a decade, but the way he's worded this litany, it reads as if American theaters have produced "no" productions by these authors at all. "No history, in other words."
No Samuel Beckett, no Bertolt Brecht, no Anton Chekhov, no Georges Feydeau, no Henrik Ibsen, no William Inge, no Eugène Ionesco, no Arthur Miller, no Clifford Odets, no Eugene O'Neill, no George Bernard Shaw, no Aristophanes or Euripides or Sophocles, no Rodgers and Hammerstein or Frank Loesser or Lerner and Loewe...no history, in other words.
There's one other problem: By listing playwrights' names, Teachout exposes another flaw in his data-mining. A thorough list of "most-produced" playwrights over the last 10 years would paint a different picture. Conor McPherson, Sarah Ruhl, and August Wilson would probably be on the list, for starters; so, I daresay, would many of the writers Teachout lists above. Because while each year's Top 10 reflects that year's hottest plays while they're white-hot, it fails to register the hardy warhorses and Streetcars that don't crack the Top 10 but, over the aggregate of 10 years, are likely to outrun the temporary favorites. It also fails to account for authors, new and old, who are too prolific to rise to the top with just one defining play; maybe no single Chekhov or Williams play had as many productions as Wit or Doubt in the 2000s; but I'm willing to bet Teachout a lunch that Chekhov and Williams received more productions than did Margaret Edson or David Auburn.
Of course, since I work at American Theatre and have already had some fun with data-mining possibilities of this annual tradition, the burden of proof is on me, and I happily accept it. More to come.