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BEST OF THE ARTS 2020

In an abbreviated year, women playwrights and directors shone brightest

Antoinette Nwandu’s ‘Pass Over,’ Lucy Kirkwood’s ‘The Children’ head the list of Top 10 productions in Boston theater.

From left: Lewis D. Wheeler, Hubens "Bobby" Cius, and Kadahj Bennett in "Pass Over," a co-production of SpeakEasy Stage Company and the Front Porch Arts Collective.
From left: Lewis D. Wheeler, Hubens "Bobby" Cius, and Kadahj Bennett in "Pass Over," a co-production of SpeakEasy Stage Company and the Front Porch Arts Collective.Nile Scott Studios

Boston-area theaters only made it through 2½ months of live performances this year before the coronavirus pandemic shut them down. More’s the pity, because 2020 was off to a promising start, especially when it came to productions of works by women playwrights, who accounted for eight of the plays in my Top 10, and women directors, who helmed seven of those productions.

“Pass Over,” play by Antoinette Nwandu, directed by Monica White Ndounou, presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company and the Front Porch Arts Collective.

“The Children,” play by Lucy Kirkwood, directed by Bryn Boice, presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company.

“Detroit Red,” play by Will Power, directed by Lee Sunday Evans, presented by ArtsEmerson.

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“Vanity Fair,” adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel by Kate Hamill, directed by David R. Gammons, presented by Underground Railway at Central Square Theater.

“Sweat,” play by Lynn Nottage, directed by Kimberly Senior, presented by Huntington Theatre Company.

“Pipeline,” play by Dominique Morisseau, directed by Dawn M. Simmons, presented by The Nora at Central Square Theater.

“The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes,” directed Bruce Gladwin, production by Back to Back Theatre presented by ArtsEmerson.

“Wolf Play,” play by Hansol Jung, directed by Summer L. Williams, presented by Company One Theatre in partnership with Boston Public Library.

“The Cake,” play by Bekah Brunstetter, directed by Courtney O’Connor, presented by Lyric Stage Company of Boston.

“Bright Half Life,” play by Tanya Barfield, directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian, presented by Actors’ Shakespeare Project.


Don Aucoin can be reached at donald.aucoin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeAucoin.