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William Missouri Downs
B.S. Northern Michigan University
M.F.A. University of Illinois
M.F.A. U.C.L.A. Film School
William Missouri Downs is the 2012-2013 winner of a rolling opening from the National New Play Network; he is one of only 30 playwrights in the last 20 years to win this honor. Bill’s play The Exit Interview has the additional distinction of having the largest rolling opening in the history of the New Play Network. His plays have been produced by the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, the Wisdom Bridge Theatre in Chicago, the New York City Fringe Festival, The InterAct Theatre in Philadelphia, The San Diego Rep, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (as part of the AT&T Performing Arts Festival), The Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the Salt Lake City Acting Company, the Actors Theatre of Charlotte, the International Theatre Festival in Israel, the Stadt Theater Walfischgasse in Austria, the Detroit Rep, the Durban Performing Arts Center in South Africa, and over 100 other theatres worldwide.
Bill is represented by the Beacon Agency in New York City.
He holds an M.F.A. in acting from the University of Illinois and an M.F.A. in screenwriting from U.C.L.A. He was trained in playwriting by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson (5th of July, Talley’s Folly), in screenwriting by Oscar-winning screenwriter Stirling Silliphant (In the Heat of the Night, The Poseidon Adventure) and in directing by Oscar-nominated director Jerzy Antczak (Nights and Days). Bill also spent several years studying playwriting with Milan Stitt (Yale School of Drama) at The Circle Rep Theatre in New York City.
In Hollywood, Bill started as a script secretary on NBC’s Moonlighting (Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd), and his acceptance into the prestigious Warner Brothers Sitcom Writing Workshop paved his way as a staff writer on NBC’s My Two Dads (Paul Reiser). He also wrote episodes for the NBC shows Amen (Sherman Hemsley) and Fresh Prince Of Bel Air (Will Smith). In addition he sold a movie to Ron Howard’s Imagine Films and optioned another to Filmways. While a student at UCLA, Bill won numerous screenwriting awards, including the Jack Nicholson prize.
Bill’s plays have been published by Samuel French (Cockeyed, Kosher Lutherans, The Exit Interview), Playscripts (Dead White Males), Heuer publishers (Headset), and Next Stage Press (an adaptation of Ibsen’s A Doll House, and Innocent Thoughts). He has had ten journal articles or short stories published, and four books, including: Naked Playwriting (Silman/James), Playwriting: From Formula To Form (Harcourt Brace), Screenplay: Writing The Picture (Silman/James), and The Art of Theatre (Wadsworth). The Art of Theatre is now in its 3rd edition and has been used at more than 100 universities nationwide. Bill’s book Screenplay: Writing the Picture is also published in Warsaw and is one of the top-selling screenwriting books in Poland.
Bill’s plays have won numerous awards, including the Larry Corse Prize for playwriting, the Mill Mountain Theatre's Festival Of New Plays, The Greenhouse Festival Of New Plays, The National Playwright’s Award and the Bay Area Critics Award for best production in San Francisco,
Bill is a member of the Writers Guild (WGA), and The Dramatists Guild (DGA). He has been a member of the Playwright’s Unit at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and served as co-artistic director of the Circle Rep West in Los Angeles.
As a director/dramaturg/playwright, Bill has helped take five productions to the regional American College Theatre Festival. He directed the award-winning student musical Good Morning Athens which was performed at the national American College Theatre Festival in Washington, D.C.
A full professor at the University of Wyoming, Bill is Head of Playwriting and Play Development. As well as teaching in the theatre department (over 12,000 students have taken his classes) he also serves as an adjunct in religious studies where he co-teaches classes on Deism, Agnosticism and Atheism. He has won eighteen teaching and research awards including seven Top Ten Professor honors. In 2006, Bill was a recipient of the Wyoming Governor's Arts Award.
Bill’s favorite thing to do is to find ancient theatres - this quest has taken him to Egypt, France, England, Greece, Turkey, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Italy, China and India.