One of the many ways playwright Marisa Wegrzyn (LA '03) honed her craft at Washington University in St. Louis, was to take part in the A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Competition. A three-time Hotch participant, Wegrzyn won the competition in 2005 with her play Hickorydickory. Directed by Bill Whitaker (Professor of Practice in Drama) this darkly funny family drama set in a watch & clock repair shop was produced by the Performing Arts Department and ran in the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre. It later went on to be awarded the prestigious national Wendy Wasserstein Award 2009.
After graduating in 2003, she continued writing plays while bartending and working office temp jobs in Chicago. During that time she was one of the founding members of Theatre Seven of Chicago, a group formed by WashU PAD alumni, and a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists. Andrea Urice (Teaching Professor of Drama) introduced her to Ed Sobel, the director of New Play Development at Steppenwolf at the time, who gave Wegrzyn her first playwriting commission - The Butcher of Baraboo, a dark comedy. It was first produced in the Steppenwolf First Look series in 2006 and then Off-Broadway at Second Stage in NYC. In 2013, another Steppenwolf commission, Mud Blue Sky, premiered at Centerstage Baltimore before receiving a number of productions around the country. More recently, she was a founding member of The Kilroys, an activist group advocating for gender parity in the American Theatre.
In 2013 Wegrzyn moved to Los Angeles to break into the TV writing racket. She landed her first staff writer job on Mind Games (ABC) in 2014, followed by jobs on The Mentalist (CBS), Feed the Beast (AMC), and Goliath (Amazon), where she is currently working on the fourth season as a Co-Executive Producer and writer. "This all makes it sound like an easy progression, says Wegrzyn, "but it was all work built on a foundation that started in the Performing Arts Department." According to Wegzryn, Carter Lewis continues to be a mentor, friend, and reliable football pool commissioner - we stay in touch through annual NFL "smack talk". "Carter guided me through the early stages of my writing life, bolstering my confidence as an artist and storyteller. I'm forever grateful to him." And if there's one regret she may have about her time at the PAD, it's that she had to turn down the role of Edith the maid in Jeffrey Matthews' production of Blithe Spirit. "It conflicted with my participation in the A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Workshop," said Wegrzyn, "I mean, who knows where my acting career would have gone from there?"