Southeast Missouri State University’s Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre and Dance has announced the official selections and guest speakers for the 2022 Lanford Wilson New American Play Festival, to be held on the University’s River Campus June 12-18, 2022.
The festival is focused on training the next generation of new play developers through workshops and seminars with some of the nation’s top new play development professionals.
This year, the conference component of the festival will feature sessions with:
- Emmy-winner and Tony-nominee Lonny Price
- Actors Theatre of Louisville Executive Artistic Director Robert Barry Fleming
- Award-winning costume designer Mika Eubanks
- Concord Theatricals’ Senior Manager of Acquisitions and Artistic Development Garrett Anderson
The 2022 festival will also feature a very special event – a staged reading of an unproduced play by the late Pulitzer Prize-winner Lanford Wilson. Los Alamos was developed by Wilson in the late 1990s and was later radically reworked into his final produced play, Rain Dance. But Los Alamos itself was never produced professionally. The presentation will be followed by a discussion with Dr. David Crespy, director of the Lanford Wilson Collection at the University of Missouri, about the play and its place in Wilson’s body of work.
Feature Developmental Presentations:
- Tough by Margot Connolly
- The Other Part of the Picture by Peter Hardy
- Fame Heaux by Leigh M. Marshall
- The Dark Arts for Beginners by Nick Robideau
- The Winterguard Play by Avery Deutsch
Selections were chosen from more than 800 plays submitted for consideration. The festival will also feature a program of short plays featuring exclusively characters in their late teens and early twenties:
- Admittance: A Letter to Northwestern University by Elijah Cox
- Et tu, Brew Tea by Jeff Dunne
- Chem Class by Jennifer O'Grady
- A Benevolent Alliance of Mourners by Ken Preuss
- Grace by Wendy Gough Soroka
- Loglines by Dan Borengasser
- As Slimy as Young Snails by Arlene Hutton
- Sad Lonely People by Seth McNeill
- A Monogamy of Swans by John Minigan
- Last Dance with MJ by Lindsay Partain
At the end of the week-long festival, one of the featured plays will be selected to be considered for publication by Concord Theatricals, the world’s foremost publisher of plays, and will receive its world premiere as part of the 2022-2023 Dobbins Conservatory Theatre Season.
The Lanford Wilson New American Play Festival is committed to identifying and supporting new plays that fit the needs of university theatre programs, specifically plays that have a cast of characters primarily in their teens and twenties, that have robust roles for female actors, and that have meaningful opportunities for diversity in casting.
The festival is led by Artistic Director Kitt Lavoie and Executive Director Dr. Kenneth Lee Stilson, both members of the faculty of the Dobbins Conservatory. Before coming to the Conservatory, Lavoie was the Artistic Director of New York City’s CRY HAVOC Company, a new play-focused theater where he oversaw the development of over 1,000 new plays, musicals, and screenplays. Stilson has written numerous plays, musicals, and books on acting.
“There are hundreds of actor training programs in universities around the world,” said Stilson, “and there’s a great need for plays written with characters their own ages to assist in their training. We hope this new festival will provide a valuable resource for playwrights and universities in search of new material.”
In addition to providing support for the plays being presented, the festival will provide a laboratory to train student actors in the skills and ethics of developing new plays and working in production with a living playwright. “It is a huge part of the business,” said Lavoie, “and there are so few universities in the country that teach it.”
The Lanford Wilson New American Play Festival has also partnered with Molecule Literary Magazine, which publishes short-form pieces of 50 words or less. As part of a session at the Festival, playwrights will workshop 50 word plays, some of which will be published by Molecule in an upcoming issue.
The Lanford Wilson New American Play Festival is named for the late Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning playwright and Missouri-native Lanford Wilson. Wilson’s landmark plays Talley’s Folly, Fifth of July, Burn This, and Balm in Gilead mark him as one of the foremost dramatists of the 20th century.
“Lanford Wilson is a giant in the world of theatre, and we’re incredibly grateful to have received permission from Mr. Wilson’s estate to name the festival in his honor,” said Stilson. “This is a wonderful thing for our students, the University, and our community. Based on the incredible response, we expect this to be the first of many years in developing original works that will potentially be produced around the world.”
To register or learn more about the 2022 Lanford Wilson New American Play Festival, visit www.semo.edu/lanfordwilson.