Photo of A.E. Hotchner - Washington University in St. Louis Archives

In Memoriam: A.E. Hotchner

On February 15, 2020, the Performing Arts Department lost a dear friend whose influence went far beyond his name on the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre.


A.E. Hotchner - photo by Monica Jorge

"In thinking about the man who insisted I call him “Hotch” at our first lunch in New York, I reflect upon the fact that this man, who literally gave away millions of dollars, began with nothing."

- Henry I. Schvey, professor of drama and comparative literature 

"Every September for 21 years, I opened the A. E. Hotchner Playwriting Festival by thanking our benefactor A. E. Hotchner. I hope everyone realizes this was not merely our  festival's obligatory acknowledgment of its sponsor. My acknowledgement of Mr. Hotchner was for the simple, and greater reason - I really liked him - I liked him a lot. He was a gracious supporter of Washington University's Performing Arts Department, but more importantly he was a hell of a nice guy: smart, funny, kind, talented and generous. His life was his art, and his theme was generosity. I will miss him very much."   

- Carter W. Lewis, Playwright in Residence

Since 2000 the Performing Arts Department has produced the A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Competition and Festival.   Endowed by its namesake, our alumnus, poet, and playwright, this annual playwriting competition & festival has seen many past "Hotch" plays go on to full production in the Performing Arts Department season and at various professional venues around the country.  The A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Festival has elevated our playwriting program from the mechanics of classroom study to an incubator for professional development geared toward production.  Many of our festival participants have graduated and moved on to prestigious positions around the country.

"I'm positive that without the resources of the A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Festival
and the early opportunity to see my work go from page to full production, 
I would have had a much longer road to my current life. 
It made all the difference in my perception of process; it incited so much future joy in the theatre."

Elizabeth Birkenmeier
"Candlestick Park" World Premiere: 2009

"I tell Hollywood folk my origin story as a writer, and it's always the same:
"I wrote my first play for the A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Festival
when I was a freshman at Washington University. 
My play won runner-up. The Hotch Fest changed my life."
 My professional successes, collaborations, friendships: they sparked when
I was taken seriously as a playwright at Washington University. 
I think of it fondly and with gratitude.  Thank you, Mr. Hotchner, for everything."

Marisa Wegrzyn
"Hickorydickory" World Premiere: 2006
Wendy Wasserstein New Play Award: 2009
Selected Plays by A.E. Hotchner Competition Winners, 2000-2015 in Honor of A.E. Hotchner
January 2016

"I never thought I was a writer before winning the A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Contest. 
Most days I still don't, but for the occasional ones where I do,
I'm so lucky to have had that seed planted back in 2003. " 

Brian Golden
"Six Seconds in Charlack" World Premiere: 2006
Selected Plays by A.E. Hotchner Competition Winners, 2000-2015 in Honor of A.E. Hotchner
January 2016

Click Here for more of Henry I. Schvey's memories of A.E. Hotchner
as published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Click Here for University Libraries Blog by Joel Minor, 
curator of the Modern Literature Collection at Washington University in St. Louis.

Click here for the New York Times Obituary for A.E. Hotchner