Performing Arts Department to host A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Festival Sept. 25 and 26

Features staged readings of three original plays

Three aspiring playwrights will present staged readings of their works Sept. 25 and 26 as part of 2007 A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Festival, sponsored by the Performing Arts Department (PAD) in Arts & Sciences.

Noga Landau and Sathya Sridharan
Playwright Noga Landau discusses her new work *Chosen* with actor Sathya Sridharan as part of the 2007 A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Festival.

Named in honor of alumnus A.E. Hotchner (AB and JD ’40), the festival consists of an intensive two-week workshop that culminates in the staged readings. This year’s workshop, which begins Sept. 15, is led by acclaimed dramaturg Michael Bigelow Dixon, director of studio theater programming and associate artist at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Each of the participating plays — which are selected by jury — will also be eligible for a full production as part of the PAD’s 2008-09 season.

“The workshop experience is invaluable for playwrights,” said Carter W. Lewis, playwright-in-residence in the PAD. “It allows them to hear their work out loud for the first time, which can be a startling thing. Plus there’s a great energy and camaraderie that comes from having playwrights working together and cheering for one another.”

“Plays are meant to be spoken,” Lewis continues. “I always ask students the question ‘Is a play more like a book or a symphony?’ And the answer is that it’s a symphony, because a play is a kind of blueprint that the actors bring to fruition. It’s behavior in the written form.”

This year’s lineup includes two full-length plays. Intelligent Life, by alumna Lauren Dusek (LA ’07), is a funny and suspenseful tale about a ramshackle group of UFO chasers that discovers a child who may or may not be an alien. Chosen, by senior Noga Landau, tells the story of an Israeli wrestler who gives up a spot on the 1972 Olympic team and how he deals with subsequent terrorist attack.

Also on the bill is one short play, Yelling Man, by senior Lee Osorio, a morality tale about a cab driver’s unexpected reaction a tragic accident.

Noga Landau and Sathya Sridharan
Noga Landau and Sathya Sridharan

Readings of Intelligent Life and Yelling Man will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25. A reading of Chosen will start at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26.

In addition, Dixon will host an informal talk on “Writing Outside of the Box: Taking the Process to the Streets” at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20.

All events are free and open to the public and take place in the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre, located in the Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd. For more information, call (314) 935-5858 or visit

Hotchner, an acclaimed novelist, playwright and biographer, is perhaps best known for his memoirs Papa Hemingway (1966), about his close friendship with Ernest Hemingway; and King of the Hill (1973), about growing up in Depression-era St. Louis. (The latter was adapted to film by Steven Soderbergh in 1993.) As a student Hotchner participated in a similar playwriting competition led by then-professor William Carson, famously placing ahead of classmate Tennessee Williams.

Dixon, dubbed “America’s dramaturg” by playwright Lee Blessing, joined the Guthrie Theatre in 2001 and previously spent 17 years as associate artistic director and dramaturg/literary manager for the prestigious Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville. He has served as dramaturg for more than 120 productions; directed world premieres as well as classical works for major theaters around the country; and edited 35 volumes of plays and criticism.


WHO: Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences

WHAT: 2007 A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Festival

WHEN: Lecture: Dramaturg Michael Bigelow Dixon on “Writing Outside of the Box: Taking the Process to the Streets,” 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20; Staged Readings: Intelligent Life, by Lauren Dusek and Yelling Man by Lee Osorio, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25; Staged Reading: Chosen by Noga Landau, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26

WHERE: A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre, Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

COST: Free and open to the public

INFORMATION: (314) 935-5858