Hotchner Festival showcases aspiring playwrights

PAD to stage readings of three original plays Oct. 1 and 2

Three aspiring playwrights will present staged readings of their works Oct. 1 and 2 as part of the 2010 A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Festival, sponsored by the Performing Arts Department (PAD) in Arts & Sciences at WUSTL.


Produced and organized by Carter W. Lewis, playwright-in-residence, the festival is named in honor of alumnus A.E. Hotchner (AB and JD ’40) and consists of an intensive two-week workshop that culminates in the staged readings. This year’s workshop is led by dramaturg Allison Horsley, assistant professor of dramatic literature at the University of Denver.

The readings begin at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1, with A Hundred Pines by junior Selena Lane. Directed by Andrea Urice, senior lecturer in drama, the story centers on Tracy, a young woman who finds that, three months after unexpectedly leaving her freshman year of college, one can go home again. But, with a workaholic mother, a love interest several years her senior and an inexplicable desire to plant pine trees in frozen ground, it is not always an easy escape.

The festival continues at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, with Before Jumping In by senior Eli Keehn. Directed by Annamaria Pileggi, senior lecturer in drama, this witty comedy is based on a little-known fact: namely that our individual brains are run by an oddly matched, stubbornly opinionated board of directors. The story centers on Jake, a young man making choices about life, love and party etiquette — while the board negotiates his every move.

The festival will conclude that evening at 7 p.m. with The Stroke Scriptures by senior Chris Kammerer. Directed by William Whitaker, senior lecturer in drama, this sprawling ensemble piece — which won the 2010 A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Competition and will receive a full production in April — explores the hidden connections between a series of seemingly disparate events: A woman’s husband goes missing in Raleigh. Two teenagers take a mushroom-induced tour of Chicago. A man’s wife has a miscarriage in Los Angeles, while a famous poet suffers a stroke. And at the center of it all is a homeless veteran who just wants to give away a hot dog.

All three readings are free and open to the public and take place in the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre, located in the Mallinckrodt 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.

Horsley has served as a dramaturg and/or literary manager for the O’Neill National Music Theater Conference, Denver Center Theatre Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Kitchen Dog Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, Yale Repertory Theatre, Baltimore’s Centerstage and Dallas Theater Center. Since its world premiere in 2004, she has been dramaturg for the Tony Award-winning musical Jersey Boys. Other Broadway credits include research dramaturgy for Dracula the Musical and developmental support for Billy Crystal’s Tony-winning 700 Sundays in La Jolla.

Horsley currently is under commission from Oregon Shakespeare Festival to create new literal translations of Anton Chekhov’s major plays for adaptation by director Libby Appel. Together, they have completed new versions of The Cherry Orchard, Seagull, Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters, with Ivanov and Platonov in development.

Horsley holds an master of fine arts degree in dramaturgy and dramatic criticism from the Yale School of Drama and a bachelor’s degree in Russian and theatre from the University of Denver.