A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Festival, Graphic

A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Festival 2021

We invite you to become a part of the playwriting process at the script-in-hand staged reading of each play.

This year three aspiring playwrights will take part in a two-week workshop to develop their plays from the page to the stage. Guest dramaturg, Liza Birkenmeier AB '08, a recent playwright-in-residence at New York talent hub Ars Nova will mentor the writers during the workshop, supported by faculty directors and PAD actors.  We invite you to become a part of the playwriting process at the script-in-hand staged reading of each play.  After each presentation there will be a post-show discussion with the playwright and guest dramaturg in which you, the audience, are an integral part of the process and an ongoing participant in the development of each play.

All Readings will take place in-person in the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre.  Admission is free and open to the public.

This event is sponsored by the Newman’s Own Foundation. 

Please see below for COVID-19 policies for patrons


Front Porch Steps
by Megan Gooden

directed by Jacqueline Thompson

Friday, September 24, 2021
7:00 p.m.

Ally and Eric lead an imperfect life filled with moments of happiness and plagued by echoes of uncertainty. One morning an 18-year-old girl named Tawni arrives on her bicycle and invites herself in. She brings with her, immediacy, honesty and the memories of a sister who is no longer standing beside her. With an unsubtle presence akin to blunt force trauma, Tawni confronts the couple, exposes their friends, and gently indicates a better way to go forward, until her sister calls her back.


Kent Styles
by Zachary Stern

directed by Pannill Camp

Saturday, September 25, 2021
2:00 p.m.

Kent Styles is probably not a nice guy. He’s fresh out of prison and needs a quick score to avoid some harsh local consequences. With an assist from his sometimes girlfriend, he targets his blind, but reliable Uncle Fred, and far less patient wife, Liz. Having been burnt before, should they trust Kent? It’s a rock and a hard place, as this time, Kent is suggesting they pull the plug on their long comatose and vegetative son, to accommodate his situation.


Decadents Gone Wilde
by J. Myles Hesse

directed by Annamaria Pileggi

Saturday, September 25, 2021
7:00 p.m.

In 1896, the infamous celebrity Oscar Wilde languishes in a prison cell for crimes of "gross indecency," while his best friend and sometimes lover, Robbie Ross, plans a desperate bid to expedite his release. All proceeds according to his plan until Oscar's estranged wife and his tempestuous boyfriend threaten to undo all of Robbie's work as they seek to supplant the other as Oscar's favorite. Robbie is left to negotiate an impossible truce, all the while coming to terms with his blossoming affection for a seductive rent-boy who refuses to leave his home.

Meet the Dramaturg


Liza Birkenmeier was the 2019-2020 Tow Playwright-in-Residence at Ars Nova, where her play Dr. Ride’s American Beach House, directed by Katie Brook, premiered in 2019. Her most recent work includes Please Welcome Our Guest, commissioned by MTC for their Snapshot Series, Honestly Sincere with Theater in Quarantine, and ISLANDER at HERE. Her work has been developed at Dixon Place, New Georges, PRELUDE, The Public Theater, New York Stage and Film, City Theatre, and elsewhere. She has taught playwriting at Carnegie Mellon and NYU Tisch. Her first production, Candlestick Park, was part of the Hotchner Festival and was directed by Andrea Urice in 2009. She was born in St. Louis, and has returned to work with Shakespeare Festival STL, Wash U, St. Louis Actors Studio, the Rep, and Upstream Theater. She is a Macdowell Colony and Yaddo fellow, received her BA in Drama from Wash U's PAD, and received her MFA in playwriting from Carnegie Mellon University. 


COVID-19 policies for patrons

All attendees are required to complete a health screener within 4 hours of arrival to campus. Be prepared to show the “Cleared for Campus” result to event staff upon arrival.
Visitor Screening Tool (link removed)
WUSTL Student/Faculty/Staff Screening Tool (link removed)

Masks are to be worn at all times while indoors on the Wash U campus. That includes the Edison lobby area, restrooms, and while seated in the theater.

The adjudication committee consisted of Annamaria Pileggi, Henry Schvey, Carter W. Lewis and Liz Engelman, Dramaturg and Executive Director of The Tofte Lake Artist Retreat. The author’s names were removed from the scripts so that the adjudication process was “blind”. The selected plays will be workshopped with a guest dramaturg in the fall.