Lanford Wilson white and black text logo

The Lanford Wilson New American Play Festival honors new American plays that provide dynamic performance opportunities for college-aged actors.

The festival endeavors both to recognize playwrights for their outstanding work and to provide a resource for universities across the country to identify dynamic plays with robust roles for college-aged actors for production at their institutions. The festival features both a full-length and short play division.

The 2024 Lanford Wilson New American Play Festival will be held in person at the Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre and Dance on the River Campus of Southeast Missouri State University from May 26 to June 1, 2024.

The festival will feature staged readings of five Official Selection full-length plays and ten Official Selection short plays, as well as workshops and seminars on playwriting and new play development.

After the festival, one full-length play will be selected for the festival’s top prize and will receive its world premiere in the 2024-2025 Dobbins Conservatory Mainstage Season and will be considered for publication by Concord Theatricals, the world’s most significant theatrical company, comprising the catalogs of R&H Theatricals, Samuel French, Tams-Witmark, and The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection.

Full Length Play Official Selections

A List of Happenings at 1016 14th St. (Not Necessarily in Chronological Order) by Anna Watts

Monday, May 27, 2024 / 7 p.m. / A group of women studying at the University of Colorado during the 1955-1956 school year occupy an apartment on 14th Street. Inspired by a note left by the playwright’s great aunt, this slice-of-life-style piece is a high-energy portrayal of a short moment of freedom for these "strange women.” Exploring themes of friendship, sexuality, gender roles, intellectualism, and ambition, this play is a gift to a group of people who were historically undermined, forgotten, and oppressed.

Strange Birds by E.M. Lewis

Tuesday, May 28, 2024 / 7 p.m. / When Jo and her forest ranger trainee find blood in the snow outside a remote mountain house, they suspect that something bad has happened. Can they figure out what before the storm hits? Jo’s old friend Lou might be able to help… or she might be involved herself. Strange Birds is about women, and wolves, and sisters, and secrets. What do we owe to the systems that oppress us? And how do you escape something you carry inside you?

Girlhood by Ida Esmaeili

Wednesday, May 29, 2024 / 7 p.m. / In an Upper East Side apartment, seven teenage girls gather over the course of a year as they prepare for their debutante ball: a night that will ultimately change their lives in ways they never could have predicted. Girlhood follows a diverse and tight-knit group of friends navigating the tragedies of adolescence, and the small cruelties they inflict upon each other while they look for their places in the world. They are funny. They are strong. They are deeply flawed. And they are figuring it out.

Dead Girls Club by Sarah Elizabeth Grace

Thursday, May 30, 2024 / 7 p.m. / Dead Girls Club is inspired by the real lives (and deaths) of six teenage girls from metro-Detroit, who went missing during the 1970's and 80’s. While waiting to discover their souls’ destination in a purgatory recreation room, the girls play Dungeons and Dragons while intermittently using one another to tell stories about their messy, beautiful, rebellious, mundane, and imperfect adolescence.

Can’t Stop the WROK! by Robb Willoughby

Friday, May 31, 2024 / 7 p.m. / It’s Homecoming Week of 1984, and the students of Rockdale’s popular radio station, WROK, are busy promoting the “Purple Rain” themed Dance and dealing with all the drama that comes with being in high school. When a big corporation threatens to buy their radio station and cancel their morning broadcasts, the students must rally together to save the station. Featuring music from the ’80s and lots of laughs – this feel-good comedy proves that you just Can’t Stop the WROK!


Sunday, May 26 at 7 p.m.

Good Night Sky by Erica Furgiuele
The Oyster by Uma Incrocci
The Dark by Serena Berman
Sexiled by Sam Heyman
Blood Moon by Steve Apostolina

Saturday, June 1 at 2 p.m.

The Santa Thing by Greg Lam
Safe Walk by Rebecca Kane
Hijab by Andrea Fleck Clardy
This Time Around by Daniel Repp
Kevin and Jules by Samara Siskind

Conference Speaker Bios

Steve Apostolina

Steve Apostolina’s (“Voice Acting in Film and Television”) play Killer was a Finalist at the Ashland New Play Festival 2023, Semi-Finalist at Premiere Stages 2023 and First Place winner in The Julie Harris 2022 Playwriting Competition. Select full lengths include: Hold Up the Sun, Derelict in Fairville, Broken, Forever Bound, and Flight of the Penguin. His work has been seen in LA, NY and all over the US. Other playwriting awards: Ovation Award Nomination ( Forever Bound), Dramalogue Award and LA Weekly nomination ( Flight of the Penguin), Labute New Theatre Festival (two-time finalist) and New Jersey Rep Festival finalist ( Embroiled). Forever Bound, after a critical LA run starring French Stewart, subsequently had a reading in NYC for Williamstown Theatre Festival with Amanda Seyfried and Tommy Sadoski. Steve’s acting and voiceover credits can be found on IMDB.

Emily Bohannon

Emily Bohannon (“Adding Value to the Room: What Playwrights and Directors Look for from Actors in the New Play Development Process”) is a playwright, screenwriter, and actress originally from Sandersville, Georgia. She is a graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwrights Program at the Juilliard School, received an AB Drama from the University of Georgia, and was a Rockwell Scholar at the Einhorn School of Performing Arts, where she studied with Tanya Barfield, Julian Sheppard, Cusi Cram, Keith Bunin, and Dael Orlandersmith, among others. Her work has been supported by the Lark Play Development Center, Academy of Dramatic Art, and the New York Foundation of the Arts. Most recently, she had world premieres with AboutFACE Theatre Company in Dublin, Ireland and with the Dobbins Conservatory at Southeast Missouri State University where her play The Romantic Movement won the inaugural Lanford Wilson New American Play Festival. You can currently view the film adaptation of her play Virtue on Broadway on Demand.

Mikael Burke

Mikael Burke (“DnD: Directors in Development!”) is a Chicago-based director, deviser, and educator. A Princess Grace Award-winner in Theatre and Jeff Award-winning director, his recent credits include: Short Shakes! Romeo & Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), Oak by Terry Guest (Urbanite Theatre, World Premiere), Othello by William Shakespeare (Theatreworks Colorado Springs), Notes from the Field by Anna Deveare Smith (TimeLine Theatre, Chicago Premiere), The Salvagers by Harrison David Rivers (Yale Repertory Theatre, World Premiere), Tambo & Bones by Dave Harris (Refracted Theatre Company, Chicago Premiere), Blues for an Alabama Sky by Pearl Cleage (Remy Bumppo Theatre Company), The Magnolia Ballet by Terry Guest (About Face Theatre, Chicago Premiere), and Clyde’s by Lynn Nottage (Theaterworks Hartford). Mikael is also an adjunct faculty member at DePaul University and Roosevelt University in Chicago. MFA, The Theatre School at DePaul University.

Timothy Davis

Timothy Davis (“Making Text-Based Choices”) is an actor/writer best known as Chef Ryan on the critically acclaimed hit Showtime series Billions. He has created and sold television projects at Apple+ TV, Sony Television, and other studios and networks. He is a lifetime member of the venerable Actors Studio and earned his MFA at the Actors Studio Drama School. For nearly a decade he has served on the teaching and coaching faculty at the Lesly Kahn Institute in Los Angeles, where he has helped hundreds of actors book roles in film, theatre, and television. He is also a lifelong martial artist (a black belt in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo). He originated the role of Del in Michael Golamco’s Cowboy vs. Samurai and Roger in Linda Fagaio-Hall’s The Female HeartOff-Broadway.

Ida Esmaeili

Ida Esmaeili (“It's A Hard Knock Life: Beyond the BFA”) is a Swedish-Iranian writer, actor, and songwriter currently based in New York City. Her writing most often explores themes of multiculturalism, particularly Middle-Eastern stories set within Western society, and coming-of-age young womanhood. Her work has been performed at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Ars Nova, Lenfest Center for the Arts, Guild Hall of East Hampton, and Pale Blue Dot Theatre Company. She is a graduate of the MFA Playwriting Program at Columbia University and the BFA Musical Theatre Program at Boston Conservatory at Berklee. Her music can be found on Spotify.

Erica Furgiuele

Erica Furgiuele (“Writing Short Plays”) is a playwright and lyricist from Philadelphia. Her plays include The Last Laugh, Iguana Heaven, Snow Day, and The Girlish Play. Erica's work has been produced by Bald Mountain Theater, Windows Theatre, Tiny Theatre, and Vermont Actors’ Repertory Theater. Her work has been published in New World Theatre's anthology A Solitary Voice. Erica earned a BA in theater from Middlebury College.

Sarah Elizabeth Grace

Sarah Elizabeth Grace (“Trauma-Informed Artistry: Cultivating Resilience and Sustainability When Engaging in Difficult Topics”) is a New York City-based performer, producer, and writer whose work focuses on love, gender dynamics, and sexuality. Produced off-off-Broadway plays include Crush, More, Implied Consent, The Regime is Female, and Mental Nudity. Short Films: Period Piece (Sick N’ Wrong Film Festival, Bridgeport Film Festival). Publications: I Won’t Be That Person (Chaotic Merge Magazine). Fictional Podcasts: Nora’s Dragon. Currently Ms. Grace self-publishes via her substack Grace and Storms. When not writing or teaching, Sarah enjoys arranging flowers, listening to Kate Bush, and participating in activities that subvert her Midwestern Catholic upbringing.

Greg Lam

Greg Lam (“Writing Short Plays”) is a playwright, screenwriter, podcaster, and board game designer who lives in the Bay Area. He is the co-founder of the Asian-American Playwright Collective, a member of The Pulp Stage Writer's Room, Playground SF, and the administrator of Pear Theatre's Playwright Guild. His full-length epic Last Ship to Proxima Centauri premiered digitally at Kitchen Dog Theater in March 2021 and onstage at Portland Stage Co. in March 2022. His full-length sci-fi play Repossessed received its world premiere at Theatre Conspiracy in 2018. His satiric serial play series Treachery Island premiered at The Pulp Stage in 2023. His biographical play Chaplin & Keaton on the Set of Limelight premieres at The Pear Theatre in 2024. Greg writes, largely, full-length epics that combine grinding moral quandaries with science fiction, short plays that are comic romps, and one-minute plays which are incredibly depressing.

Rachel Levens

Rachel Levens (she/her) (“Shelf Help: Getting Plays into Your Script Library”) is the Acquisitions and Artistic Development Associate at Concord Theatricals. She serves as the Co-Chair of Concord Theatrical's Accessibility and Disability Inclusion Committee and is a reader for the Samuel French Off Off-Broadway Short Play Festival (OOB). While theatres were closed during the pandemic, she line-produced Concord Theatrical's Read More Plays Club, which united lovers and celebrated artists in the digital space. Prior to joining Concord, Rachel freelanced as a play reader, dramaturg, and new play director. She also held several administrative positions at arts institutions in New York City.

E.M. Lewis

E.M. Lewis (“Making Theater Magic!”) is an award-winning playwright, teacher, and opera librettist. Her work has been produced around the world and published by Samuel French. She received the Steinberg Award and the Primus Prize from the American Theater Critics Association, the Ted Schmitt Award from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, a playwriting fellowship from the New Jersey State Arts Commission, the Oregon Literary Fellowship, and an Edgerton Award. She’s currently part of the Mellon Foundation’s National Playwright Residency P

Tim Nicolai

Tim Nicolai (“JOINT FORCES: Collective Creation in New Work”) is an actor, director, and producer who is currently an Assistant Professor of Acting and Musical Theatre here at Dobbins Conservatory. Performance credits include The Glass Menagerie (Broadway); Othello, Plenty, The Tempest, and Cymbeline (The Public Theater/Shakespeare in the Park); The Strangers Came Today and Beginning Days of True Jubilation (SOCIETY/New Ohio Theater), Hamlet (Shakespeare Theater Company); The Grapes of Wrath, The Tempest,and Romeo & Juliet (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey); Pale Fires, The Beaux Stratagem,and Describe the Night (Rajiv Joseph world premiere) at NYU Grad Acting. TV: Prodigal Son (FOX), Search Party (TBS), Z: The Beginning of Everything (Amazon) FBI: Most Wanted, The Good Fight, Madam Secretary and EVIL (CBS). Workshops include Jordans by Ife Olujobi, Florida by Lucas Hnath, The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez, Socrates by Tim Blake Nelson and Memnon by Will Power. He's worked with four Tony-award winning directors and also worked as a director and assistant director at Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Olney Theater Center, Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, and Shakespeare Theatre of NJ. Tim is a co-founder of SOCIETY, a NYC-based ensemble developing new work using the Joint Stock Method, with Mona Mansour and Scott Illingworth. TRAINING: NYU Grad Acting, Southeast Missouri State.

Samara Siskind

Samara Siskind's (“Writing Short Plays”) plays and monologues have been produced across the globe and published in various anthologies including Shorter, Faster, Funnier: Comic Plays and Monologues; Great Short Comedies Volumes 1and 2; StageIt!7: Thirty Ten-Minute Plays; The Best 10-Minute Plays of 2023; The Best 10-Minute Plays of 2024; The Best Women’s Monologues of 2024; and The Best Men’s Monologues of 2024, to be released this December. Her work has been developed and produced by City Theatre Miami, Forward Theater Company, Morgan-Wixson Theatre, Ivoryton Playhouse, Whiskey Theatre Factory, Murmuration Theatre Company, Lakeshore Players Theatre, B3 Theater, M1A – Miami One Acts, Play de Luna, and others. Samara serves as the Resident Dramaturg for Athena Project, is a graduate of Webster University’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts, and is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild.

Kathy Voecks

Kathy Voecks (“Using Principles of Scenography in the Design Development of New Plays”) has been designing for over 25 years, with sets for theatres including The Black Hills Playhouse, The Blue Barn Theatre, Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse, The Omaha Theatre Company, and The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre. She has worked as the scenic designer on new plays by playwrights Chantal Bilodeau, Mary Katherine Nagel, and Jessica Moss, as well as several new works for ballet. Kathy is a member of the faculty of the Jeanine Larson Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre and Dance at Southeast Missouri State University; previously she taught in the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance at Kansas State University. She is also a scenic artist, props artisan, and sometime projection designer. Kathy holds an MFA in scenic design from the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

Anna Watts

Anna Watts (“Found Text: Finding the Story in Existing Text”) is an LA-based playwright. Anna’s writing credits include: [the feminine urge to disappear](3rd Place, A Is For Playwriting Contest), The Zone of Death (Road Theater Company), Stalling (Hatchlings BK), Two is a Prime Number (Theater for the New City), The One Minute Play Festival (Secret Theater), Tits, Ass, and Brains (short film). Anna won the 2021 Fine Arts Trust Award and the 2021 Center for the Study of Women Grant which funded research trips to Nepal and Colorado. BFA: Hofstra University (Acting). MFA: UCLA (Playwriting).

Robb Willoughby

Robb Willoughby (“title of Session”) grew up in Xenia, Ohio. He studied at the University of Southern California and the HB Studios in NYC. Equity Readings of Robb's plays include, Dirty Laundry (RattleStick Theatre, NYC), Lie on the Water (Hudson, NY), Have You Ever Played Dayton? and Look Into My Eyes (HRTC, Dayton, OH.) His /! se Krits/ was the winner of 2018 New Works Competition at the Las Vegas Little Theatre. Robb's one act plays, Bro , SAY IT!, Cowboy Chuck, Mr. Pringle's 1:00, and The Bridge have enjoyed several productions nationwide: Silver Spring Stage's (DC), and PL.A.Y NOIR (CA), Old Library Theatre (NJ), Lakeshore Players Theatre (MN), City Theatre (MO), The Drama Workshop (OH), SnowDance 2023 (WI), Columbus Black Theatre Festival (OH), and Evening of Comedy Festival (VT). ROOF MAN, a full-length comedy, premiered at The Method Playhouse (MO) in 2022 and upcoming productions include ROOF MAN (Yellow Springs Theatre Co), The Hill (8 Tens @ 8 Short Play Festival), and The Fence (Home Brew 7 with The Drama Workshop and Pick of the Vine Festival with Little Fish Theatre).


bad by Sam Spoll
Butch Ado About Nothing by Noah Good
The Cicada Diet by Sarah Brown
Come As You Are by Chloe Selavka
The Coward by Kati Schwartz
Daughters of the Ruling Class by Aidan La Poche
Deconstruction by Tom Smith
Exchanges by Jeanne Beckwith
Facsimile by Anne Valentino
Gale by Emily Golden
God Splat by Adam Szymkowicz
Gonzo by Laura Winters
The Head that Wears the Crown by Hope Villanueva
Hillendale 8 by Andrea Fine Carey
In Sister's We Trust, or My Fucked Up American Girl Doll Play by Justine Gelfman
Jamie and Jules: Two B*tches In Search of a Stable Life by Micah Gene Johnson
The Living Ones by Madeleine Adriance
Lobster by Kallan Dana
The Lost Girls by Janine Sobeck Knighton
Mansfield Park by Claire Wittman
The Moss Maidens by S. Dylan Zwickel
No Entrance by Courtney Taylor
omg we ate a guy! by Andrea Staats
One Night In September by Dana Hall
The Rest Of Us by Amy Tofte
Revenge of Eve by April Lavalle
They Played in Peoria by Maggie Lou Rader
The Sons of Mothers by Dan Castellaneta
The Tragic Ecstasy of Girlhood by Kira Rockwell
We Found the Wild Things by Andrew Reid
The Young Ladies of the Class of 1902 Present "As You Like It" by Natalie Sacks


Title Name
Artistic Director Kitt Lavoie
Executive Director Kenneth L. Stilson
Associate Artistic Director Kelly Cavanagh
Associate Executive Director Drew Post
Volunteer Staff Manager Grace Smith
Volunteer Staff Coordinator Lindsay McLaughlin
Events Manager Jared Ritter
Events Coordinator Kaylee Kindle
Guest Artist Liaison Josh Neighbors
Conference Manager Reese Simken
Conference Coordinator Kennedee Nash
Education Programs Manager Peighton Robinson
Education Programs Coordinator Reagan Snyder
Marketing Manager Isabel Kissel
Archivist Emma Giltner

If you have any questions about the Lanford Wilson New American Play Festival, please contact Artistic Director Kitt Lavoie at

2024 Festival Sponsors and Publishing Partners

  • Southern Logo
  • The southerner by tractor logo
  • Beacon 53 logo.
  • Century Casino logo
  • Port Cape Logo
  • Molecule logo
  • concord theatrics logo
Office Location
River Campus Seminary, 454
Mailing Address
One University Plaza, MS 7850
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701