When playwrights Steve Yockey and Lauren Gunderson were roomies in Atlanta, writing their first plays and dreaming of them being staged one day, they couldn’t have imagined seeing their names listed alongside those of theater greats such as Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neill, Arthur Miller, Christopher Durang and Tom Stoppard.
But that’s what happened when American Theatre magazine released its list of Top 20 Most-Produced Playwrights of the 2015-16 Season. At the top of the list is Pulitzer Prize-winning Ayad Akhtar, who has 21 productions of his work being staged this season.
Yockey, whose plays “The Thrush & the Woodpecker” and “Blackberry Winter,” are being staged in repertory at Actor’s Express in October-November, is having nine productions staged this season. Gunderson is having 13 productions staged. Her “I and You” comes to Aurora Theatre in January, “The Revolutionists” comes to 7 Stages in March, and a workshop production of “The Heath” will be presented at Synchronicity Theatre in May.
Yockey and Gunderson became friends in 2002 and lived together in an apartment beside Dad’s Garage Theatre in Inman Park from 2004 to 2006.
“I remember sitting at San Francisco Coffee on North Highland with Lauren one morning right after Out of Hand’s ‘Cartoon’ opened wondering if we’d ever be produced outside of Atlanta. So this feels pretty rad,” said Yockey, who also writes for HBO’s “The Brink.”
After Yockey and Gunderson both left Atlanta for grad school at New York University, they roomed together again in Hell’s Kitchen. Yockey now lives in Los Angeles, and Gunderson lives in San Francisco.