The underrepresentation of women playwrights is a well-known and documented fact, and it increases exponentially when it comes to Indigenous women, women of colour, Two-Spirit, trans, and non-binary artists. Frequently, ADs, producers, and educators state that they do not produce shows by women, trans, or non-binary people simply because they do not know of any good plays by them. SureFire is a community-generated resource intended to help alleviate that problem, and it complements other like-minded initiatives, such as The Pledge Project and The 49 List.
We have taken our inspiration for SureFire from the Kilroys, an American group that produces an annual catalogue of high-quality, unproduced, and/or under-produced plays by women, trans, non-binary and gender diverse creators.
For our first Canadian rendition, we contacted over two hundred theatre aficionados (“Recommenders”) all across the nation, who were nominated by PGC’s Staff, Women’s Caucus Committee, and National Forum (Regional) Reps. The individual identities of the Recommenders are confidential, as are their chosen play picks, but the majority work in the industry as administrators, artistic directors, critics, dramaturges, educators, and/or practitioners. The 2018 Recommenders were asked to send PGC their top three “passion-picks” for under- or un-produced plays by Canadian women, trans-femme, and/or non-binary playwrights. We gathered the results, ranked the findings, and created SureFire to provide the community with a useful resource to help identify remarkable, production-ready plays by Canadian women, trans-femme, and/or non-binary playwrights.
Comprised of 23 plays, the SureFire 2018 is impressive for its diversity (not only in terms of racialization, age, region, and so forth, but also for aesthetic style), and we hope it will be picked-up, shared, read, discussed, and implemented far and wide.
For our second rendition, over three hundred theatre experts (“Recommenders”) across the country were asked to send in their top three “passion-picks” or favourite full-length plays by women, trans, and/or gender non-conforming creators, if the works had one professional production, or none, and so long as they were not part of SureFire 2018. PGC collected the submissions, tabulated the findings, and used the results to create SureFire 2020, a community-generated resource identifying remarkable, production-ready plays by Canadian women, trans, and/or non-binary artists.
Comprised of 24 plays and three honourable mentions, SureFire 2020 features an exciting roster of dramatic writing notable for its plurality and diverse range of aesthetic styles. We hope that SureFire 2020 will be picked-up, shared, read, discussed, and implemented far and wide to help offset industry imbalances.
In honour of PGC’s 50th anniversary, we changed things up for our third rendition of SureFire. Rather than calling on anonymous Recommenders from the Canadian theatre community, this time we invited PGC’s Women’s Caucus members to submit two of their all-time favourite plays by women, trans, and/or nonbinary creators in Canada. One of the works could be their own, and the other by someone else, so long as the play choices were not named as part of SureFire 2018 or SureFire 2020.
In all, 122 play titles were received from 75 Women’s Caucus members. Eighteen of those works received multiple nominations, and they form the SureFire 2022 listing. This time around, we are also sharing the names of the other 104 play choices in order to expand the selection of plays on offer and amplify the work further. While this year’s compilation is not as diverse as previous SureFires in relation to racialization, it is quite varied in terms of the playwrights’ geographical locations, experiences, genres, and stylistic choices.