Cape Girardeau to host Lanford Wilson New American Play Festival

The Lanford Wilson New American Play Festival is set to take place from Sunday, May 26, to Saturday, June 1, in Cape Girardeau.

The festival aims to identify and support new plays that feature robust roles for college-aged actors and provide a laboratory for training students in working with living playwrights.

Each evening from Monday, May 27, to Friday, May 31, will feature staged readings of five full-length Official Selection plays, chosen from nearly 1,000 plays submitted from around the United States, according to the news release.

At the end of the week, one play will be selected to receive its world premiere in the 2024-25 Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre & Dance Season and will be considered for publication by Concord Theatricals, the world’s most significant theatrical publishing company, according to the news release.

Evening staged readings of full-length plays will be performed at Bedell Performance Hall on the River Campus of Southeast Missouri State University from 7 to 9:30 p.m. each night of the week.

Monday, May 27: “A List of Happenings at 1016 14th St. (Not Necessarily in Chronological Order)” by Anna Watts, directed by Jennifer Reichert at Bedell Performance Hall.

A group of women studying at the University of Colorado during the 1955-56 school year occupy an apartment on 14th Street. The play explores themes of friendship, sexuality, gender roles, intellectualism and ambition. The reading will be followed by a talkback with the playwright.

Tuesday, May 28: “Strange Birds” by E.M. Lewis, directed by Mikael Burke.

Jo and her forest ranger trainee find blood in the snow outside a remote mountain house and suspect something bad has happened. The play delves into themes of women, wolves, sisters and secrets.

Wednesday, May 29: “Girlhood” by Ida Esmaeili, directed by Brittanie Gunn.

Seven teenage girls gather for over a year as they prepare for their debutante ball. The play addresses friendship, growing up and power dynamics in a world where young women are often told they lack power.

Thursday, May 30: “Dead Girls Club” by Sarah Elizabeth Grace, directed by Tim Nicolai.

Inspired by the real lives and deaths of six teenage girls from metro Detroit who went missing during the 1970s and 1980s. The girls, in a purgatory recreation room, play Dungeons and Dragons while telling stories of their adolescence.

Friday, May 31: “Can’t Stop the WROK!” by Robb Willoughby, directed by Timothy Davis.

During homecoming week of 1984, students at Rockdale’s popular radio station WROK rally together to save their station from being bought by a big corporation. The play features 1980s music and is a feel-good comedy.

The evening of Sunday, May 26, and the afternoon of Saturday, June 1, will feature staged readings of programs of five short plays featuring characters exclusively in their late teens and early 20s, stated the release. These 10 short plays will be published as a collection and made available for production at university theater programs across the United States.

Short play schedule

Sunday, May 26

“Good Night Sky” by Erica Furgiuele, directed by Josh Neighbors; “The Oyster” by Uma Incrocci, directed by Kelly Cavanagh; “The Dark” by Serena Berman, directed by Drew Post; “Sexiled” by Sam Heyman, directed by Reese Simken; and “Blood Moon” by Steve Apostolina, directed by Peighton Robinson.

Saturday, June 1

“The Santa Thing” by Greg Lam, directed by Emma Giltner; “Safe Walk” by Rebecca Kane, directed by Grace Schofield; “Hijab” by Andrea Fleck Clardy, directed by Kennedee Nash; “This Time Around” by Daniel Repp, directed by Jared Ritter; and “Kevin and Jules” by Samara Siskind, directed by Jake Carpenter.

The Lanford Wilson New American Play Festival not only showcases new plays, but also provides invaluable training and development opportunities for students and emerging playwrights.

The festival brings a unique cultural experience to Cape Girardeau, offering insight into the evolution of a play from draft to production-ready script. With a diverse lineup of plays and enriching workshops, the festival promises to be an exciting and educational event for theater enthusiasts and the local community.