William Missouri Downs

William Missouri Downs

Beacon Artists Agency, 1501 Broadway, Suite 1200, New York, NY 10036, 212-736-6630 William Missouri Downs has had nearly one hundred and fifty productions of his plays and won numerous national writing awards including two rolling premieres from the National New Play Network (Women Playing Hamlet and The Exit Interview). He has twice been a finalist at the Eugene O’Neill (Mad Gravity & How To Steal A...
Beacon Artists Agency, 1501 Broadway, Suite 1200, New York, NY 10036, 212-736-6630 William Missouri Downs has had nearly one hundred and fifty productions of his plays and won numerous national writing awards including two rolling premieres from the National New Play Network (Women Playing Hamlet and The Exit Interview). He has twice been a finalist at the Eugene O’Neill (Mad Gravity & How To Steal A Picasso). His plays have been produced by The Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, The InterAct Theatre in Philadelphia, The San Diego Rep, The Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the Salt Lake City Acting Company, the Actors Theatre of Charlotte, the Jewish Theatre of Toronto, The Bloomington Playwright’s Project, the Detroit Rep and the New York City Fringe Festival to name a few. His plays have also been produced in Spain, South Africa, Singapore, Switzerland, Austria, Israel and South Korea. Bill Missouri has had ten plays published: The Exit Interview, Kosher Lutherans and Cockeyed (Samuel French), Mad Gravity, Mr. Perfect, Women Playing Hamlet, Dead White Males (Playscripts), Headset (Heuer Publishing), and Innocent Thoughts and A Doll House (adaptation)(Next Stage Press). In Hollywood wrote for the NBC sitcoms Amen (Sherman Hemsley) and Fresh Prince Of Bel Air (Will Smith). In addition, he won UCLA’s Jack Nicholson Award for screenwriting, sold a movie to Ron Howard’s Imagine Films and optioned another to Filmways. Bill has an extensive publication record. He has co-written four books, including the The Art Of Theatre (Wadsworth), which is now in its fourth edition and has been used by an estimated eighty thousand students across the United States. Screenplay: Writing the Picture (Silman James) is in its third edition and was recently translated and published in Poland (Scenariusz Filmowy). His two books on the art of writing for the stage include Naked Playwriting (Silman James) and Playwriting: From Formula To Form (Harcourt Brace)

Plays

  • Reality (New Play 2017)
    In this age of fake news and people living in their own little bubbles how do we know what’s real? Milton Krugman’s teenaged son Zeke plays “Drone Strike” ten hours a day. Zeke tells his father that he has reason to believe that the NSA has hacked his computer and that, from his bedroom in Burbank, he’s in fact controlling actual drone kills in Afghanistan. To pay for his son’s psychiatrist, Milton, a...
    In this age of fake news and people living in their own little bubbles how do we know what’s real? Milton Krugman’s teenaged son Zeke plays “Drone Strike” ten hours a day. Zeke tells his father that he has reason to believe that the NSA has hacked his computer and that, from his bedroom in Burbank, he’s in fact controlling actual drone kills in Afghanistan. To pay for his son’s psychiatrist, Milton, a screenwriter, takes a crap job writing a “based on a true story” script for a wealthy woman who wants her life made into a Hollywood movie. But Milton realizes that her narrative is bogus. Then Zeke has a dangerous breakdown when he thinks while playing Drone Strike he’s accidentally killed twenty members of a wedding party near Kabul. This leads to a climatic sequence of events that forces Milton to question the nature of reality.
  • Woman Playing Hamlet (all female cast comedy)
    Winner of a Rolling Premiere from the National New Play Network - PUBLISHED BY PLAYSCRIPTS! “With the colorful script and vivid characters Women Playing Hamlet is a slam dunk…” - Kansas City Examiner Women Playing Hamlet is a comedy about the tragedy of modern life. Four women play twenty roles (including all the male parts) in this comedy about Jessica, an actress from Minnesota who has been cast to...
    Winner of a Rolling Premiere from the National New Play Network - PUBLISHED BY PLAYSCRIPTS! “With the colorful script and vivid characters Women Playing Hamlet is a slam dunk…” - Kansas City Examiner Women Playing Hamlet is a comedy about the tragedy of modern life. Four women play twenty roles (including all the male parts) in this comedy about Jessica, an actress from Minnesota who has been cast to play Hamlet in New York. After accidently interrupting a production of Hamlet starring Patrick Stewart Jessica thinks Mr. Stewart is stalking her; she also faces an up hill battle through a maze of self-important humanities professors, Freudian psychiatrists and a Minnesota mother only to discover the she doesn’t understand Hamlet, or herself. The search for identity is the theme as Jessica takes on her emotional baggage and an existential overload, as well as her self-doubt and distain for Danish fondue. There is no need for the audience to have seen or even understand Hamlet in order to follow Jessica’s comic search to find her unique self in this fast moving pageant full of bad advice and Starlings with diarrhea (you’ll have to read the play to make sense of that last comment).
  • The Exit Interview (a comedy)
    Winner of a Rolling Premiere from the National New Play Network . PUBLISHED BY SAMUEL FRENCH Untenured professor Dr. Dick Fig has found that a PhD on Bertolt Brecht isn’t worth much – He’s being pink-slipped. The last thing he needs to do before he hits the slow-moving unemployment line is attend the University’s required exit interview. Eunice, the interviewer, is not a good match for Dick, she finds...
    Winner of a Rolling Premiere from the National New Play Network . PUBLISHED BY SAMUEL FRENCH Untenured professor Dr. Dick Fig has found that a PhD on Bertolt Brecht isn’t worth much – He’s being pink-slipped. The last thing he needs to do before he hits the slow-moving unemployment line is attend the University’s required exit interview. Eunice, the interviewer, is not a good match for Dick, she finds comfort in self-help books like book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, while Dick hates small talk and is a vocal freethinker. When a despondent student begins shooting up Ronald Reagan Hall (next door to the action), Dick and Eunice are forced to take cover as they confront the great existential questions of life: What is its meaning? What is the relationship between religion and science? And why does God hate amputees? (Dick had his foot amputated in a tragic moose accident – it was reattached). The Exit interview is not realism - A chorus of actors play nearly two dozen roles that interrupt the main action to tell the story of Dick’s failed relationships, his fallout with small minded people, and his relationship with the moose. When things get too intense, the chorus stops the action of the play to stage commercial interruptions and ten-minute plays with other story lines in order to remind the audience that they are in a theatre and need to keep thinking.
  • How To Steal A Picasso (a new comedy)
    A FINALIST IN THE 2015 EUGENE O'NEILL! STANDING OVATIONS at the Unicorn Theatre. “Amid all the crazy plot turns, Downs finds opportunities to make valid statements about our perceptions of art, delusional self-styled “artists” and how art has lost any meaning beyond its value as a commodity.” - Kansas City Star Otto Smith’s dreams have come true. After a lifetime of struggles as an unknown painter...
    A FINALIST IN THE 2015 EUGENE O'NEILL! STANDING OVATIONS at the Unicorn Theatre. “Amid all the crazy plot turns, Downs finds opportunities to make valid statements about our perceptions of art, delusional self-styled “artists” and how art has lost any meaning beyond its value as a commodity.” - Kansas City Star Otto Smith’s dreams have come true. After a lifetime of struggles as an unknown painter and decades as a tour guide at the Detroit Institute for the Arts, he’s won a major art award. But things quickly go wrong when a fifty million dollar Picasso is stolen from the museum on the same day that his long lost son, an alleged art forger, shows up in the Motor City. Soon Otto’s family is the chief suspect. This dark comedy looks at what is real and what is counterfeit in this pixilated world where we too often think of artists as employees and art as a mere commodity. How To Steal A Picasso received standing ovations and its run was extended at the Unicorn Theatre in Feb of 2016.
  • Angry Psycho Princesses (Book of Mormon meets Bambi) (Musical)
    See it all at: www.angrypsychoprincesses.com Angry Psycho Princesses is a new musical comedy about William and Kate Fankhousers of St. Paul Minnesota. To save their collapsing marriage they take their daughter Cindy on vacation to Pretty Princess Park, a rip-off theme park across from Disneyland. Their daughter marvels at the animatronic “Hall of Princesses.” Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, all the...
    See it all at: www.angrypsychoprincesses.com Angry Psycho Princesses is a new musical comedy about William and Kate Fankhousers of St. Paul Minnesota. To save their collapsing marriage they take their daughter Cindy on vacation to Pretty Princess Park, a rip-off theme park across from Disneyland. Their daughter marvels at the animatronic “Hall of Princesses.” Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, all the princesses are there in robot form (at least the ones in public domain). But William and Kate aren’t enjoying themselves. She’s a businesswoman with a bladder infection; he’s an unemployed car salesman. While arguing they miss the recorded announcement, the park is closing; they find themselves locked in overnight. After hours, the android princesses magically come to life. William and Kate are terrified, Cindy thrilled. Off the clock the bitter, jaded human princesses try to drink booze and do Peyote. When they see little Cindy they warn her that she must get the hell out for they were also once-upon-a-time trapped in Pretty Princess Park afterhours and were made captive robots by the Evil Queen. That’s right, Pretty Princess Park is in fact a front for a villainous cult of war rats ruled over by the malicious Queen Badassery. Badassery was also a sweet little girl once, but then her mother took her to see Disney’s Bambi. The sight of Bambi’s mother dying was just too much for her little brain; she came down with Bambi Syndrome, which causes severe adult onset wickedness. Badassery puts a spell on little Cindy, when the sun comes up she too will become a robot princess. William and Kate Fankhousers must save their daughter, but they are immediately sidetracked when Kate falls in lust for the enchanting Charming Prince; he’s everything she’s ever wanted in a man and he doesn’t sell cars. Then William tries to spawn with the Little Mermaid, a sexy Fukushima victim, half-woman, half-Mackerel. When they come to their senses, Kate, William and the angry princesses lead a rebellion against the evil Queen in an attempt to stop her before she makes more little girls believe in princesses.
  • Mad Gravity (a farce)
    FINALIST AT THE 2013 EUGENE O'NEILL - PUBLISHED BY PLAYSCRIPTS Also available in Spanish "Fuera de órbita" Winner of the 2013 Reva Shiner Comedy Award from the Bloomington Playwrights Project. “For a wildly different evening of fun theater.” - Bloomington Herald times Soon to be published by Playscripts! Mad Gravity is a comedy about Archie and Eudora, two Dada performance artists...
    FINALIST AT THE 2013 EUGENE O'NEILL - PUBLISHED BY PLAYSCRIPTS Also available in Spanish "Fuera de órbita" Winner of the 2013 Reva Shiner Comedy Award from the Bloomington Playwrights Project. “For a wildly different evening of fun theater.” - Bloomington Herald times Soon to be published by Playscripts! Mad Gravity is a comedy about Archie and Eudora, two Dada performance artists who have built a theatre in their living room. Every night before a live audience they act out their lives. You’ve heard of reality television; think of it as reality theatre. They want to build a second experimental space in their kitchen but they just cannot take any more kitchen sink realism. Artaud would be proud of them. Tonight’s Theatre of Cruelty performance concerns their teenage daughter who wants to marry the son of Joe and Mary. All the parties involved have been invited to the house/theatre. But when the kids forget to tell Joe and Mary about the live audience all hell breaks lose. Things go from bad to worse when they discover that a comet has been spotted in the night sky. There is a 50/50 chance it will hit the earth. Everyone, including the audience, may have only an hour to live. This forces the parents to stop arguing about insignificant things like marriage and start arguing about great philosophical questions of life: Is the comet a sign from God or is it just gravity? And what the hell is performance art? The one page second act (that’s right the second act is one page long) does something no play has ever attempted in the history of theatre - it lets the audience in on the meaning of life.
  • Mr. Perfect (An imperfect comedy)
    PUBLISHED BY PLAYSCRIPTS MR. PERFECT is not what you expect in a love story. It is a romantic comedy about a quirky flight attendant who is a romance novel junkie. When she meets Mr. Perfect she attempts to make love with him in the bathroom of an Airbus 32,000 feet over Dayton, Ohio. When it doesn’t work out she sets out on a personal search to find the purpose of life by connecting the random chance events...
    PUBLISHED BY PLAYSCRIPTS MR. PERFECT is not what you expect in a love story. It is a romantic comedy about a quirky flight attendant who is a romance novel junkie. When she meets Mr. Perfect she attempts to make love with him in the bathroom of an Airbus 32,000 feet over Dayton, Ohio. When it doesn’t work out she sets out on a personal search to find the purpose of life by connecting the random chance events that make up existence. Her search leads her to find solace in the arms of a PhD student whose thesis is about human beings' feeble attempt to find meaning where no meaning exists. Mr. Perfect finds comfort in the arms of a nationally known self-help guru and author of such famous books as Ten Days to Self-Esteem and On a Wing and a Prayer: A Twelve-Step Crash Course on Conquering Your Fear of Flying. But when the self-help guru goes down on an airliner and the PhD is charged with plagiarism, the lovers by chance find each other again and set out to create their own through-line, narrative and meaning. Now a full-length play, the original one-act version was produced at the New York City Fringe Festival a few years ago. The play was cancelled after one performance when Hurricane Irene hit, but the short version did get one review from New York Theatre.com, “Hysterical! If you're going to see a play as a sort of escape you will get more than you bargained for here.” "...Downs flexes his considerable wit in asking if our ability to live in the present has been quashed by our need for familiar outcomes. If that sounds like a lot to get your mind around, fear not, for Downs brings this down to earth in the person of Zooey, an audio-book junkie, who wants her life to be the incarnation of her favorite taped stories." - Denver Post "Probably the wittiest new play in the last few seasons, Mr. Perfect is also very wise. In this case Mr. Downs' laser sharp pen skewers our need to have lives reflective of the romantic visions of authors of the past who floridly illustrate the way relationships should begin love at first page and end happily ever after." - Colorado Critic Corner "Hysterical! If you're going to see a play as a sort of escape you will get more than you bargained for here." - nytheatre.com
  • #American Neurotic (A Post-Modern Farce For The Gig Economy )
    #American Neurotic is a comedy about how smartphones, Facebook and selfies have changed our brains and may be killing the theatre. (2W-2M simple set) #American Neurotic is a comedy about how smartphones, Facebook and Selfies have changed our brains. Returning from the theatre George and Martha, two multitasking I-phone junkies, decide to post an abusive review about the play on YouTube. With more than a...
    #American Neurotic is a comedy about how smartphones, Facebook and selfies have changed our brains and may be killing the theatre. (2W-2M simple set) #American Neurotic is a comedy about how smartphones, Facebook and Selfies have changed our brains. Returning from the theatre George and Martha, two multitasking I-phone junkies, decide to post an abusive review about the play on YouTube. With more than a million hits their antics go viral. So the playwright searches them out, holds them hostage, and forces them to mono-task by having a face-to-face conversation, as if they’re in a play. Soon this comedy spirals into itself, as the actors set out to save the play by using twitter and algorithms to create a new “ism” for neurotic A.D.D. Americans. Although this is a comedy it deals with a serious subject, the death of the theatre.
  • Forgiving John Lennon (A drama about a Muslim in America)
    This darkly comic drama was inspired by the cancellation of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's commencement speech at Brandeis in 2014, the Charlie Hebdo attacks and my own personal travels through the Middle East. When an April Fool’s prank goes wrong, the Muslim students at a small liberal arts college file a complaint. Two professors deal with the problem by booking a poet from Somalia to give the college’s commencement...
    This darkly comic drama was inspired by the cancellation of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's commencement speech at Brandeis in 2014, the Charlie Hebdo attacks and my own personal travels through the Middle East. When an April Fool’s prank goes wrong, the Muslim students at a small liberal arts college file a complaint. Two professors deal with the problem by booking a poet from Somalia to give the college’s commencement speech. Fresh off the plane, the poet doesn’t understand the college’s political correctness, nor does the poet fit the professors’ preconceived stereotype of a Muslim woman. With the possible cancellation of the speech looming, all three are forced to confront the issues of diversity and the suppression of free speech on college campuses. Forgiving John Lennon was originally produced as a one act but is now a two act, full-length ready to be developed.
  • Life On My Knees (Comedy about a Californian in Kansas)
    Beverly Hills Theatre Guild’s Julie Harris Playwriting Award (2nd place out of 500 plays) A PhD in English lit isn’t worth shit - just ask Dr. Helen Hand. Desperate for a job, she drunkenly agrees to teach at a conservative bible college in the middle-of-nowhere-Kansas. The problem - she’s a skeptic, a liberal and gluten intolerant. She enters a world of rigid moral rules: no smoking, no alcohol, no doubting...
    Beverly Hills Theatre Guild’s Julie Harris Playwriting Award (2nd place out of 500 plays) A PhD in English lit isn’t worth shit - just ask Dr. Helen Hand. Desperate for a job, she drunkenly agrees to teach at a conservative bible college in the middle-of-nowhere-Kansas. The problem - she’s a skeptic, a liberal and gluten intolerant. She enters a world of rigid moral rules: no smoking, no alcohol, no doubting. Working undercover she sets out to enlighten the fundamentalist students but it quickly goes to hell. This small cast comedy looks at our need for faith and reason.
  • Cockeyed (Comedy- Love Story)
    PUBLISHED BY SAMUEL FRENCH Phil was a philosophy major in college. As if that’s not enough of a turn off to women, he is also rather average. All of this wouldn’t be a problem if Phil weren’t madly in love with Sophia, the boss’s beautiful secretary. He tries to introduce himself but she looks right through him. Phil’s best friend, Norman tells the humiliated Phil that the rumor around the office is that...
    PUBLISHED BY SAMUEL FRENCH Phil was a philosophy major in college. As if that’s not enough of a turn off to women, he is also rather average. All of this wouldn’t be a problem if Phil weren’t madly in love with Sophia, the boss’s beautiful secretary. He tries to introduce himself but she looks right through him. Phil’s best friend, Norman tells the humiliated Phil that the rumor around the office is that Sophia has a glass eye. This news thrills Phil because this tiny imperfection makes Sophia attainable. But more, Phil was standing to her left - perhaps she never saw him! Phil begs Norman to make a formal introduction. However, this second attempt ends in utter failure when Sophia looks right through Phil - again. His self-esteem in shambles, it soon occurs to Phil that Sophia in fact cannot see him. Perhaps he is caught in some kind of hyperspace or dualistic reality or perhaps Descartes was wrong. Phil decides there is only one logical thing to do – he moves in with the woman of his dreams – despite the fact that she’s unaware of his existence
  • Kosher Lutherans (a comedy)
    PUBLISHED BY SAMUEL FRENCH Kosher Lutherans is a curveball comedy about an infertile Jewish couple and their desperate attempts to have a baby. One day their dreams come true - they meet a young, naïve, pregnant girl from Iowa who is willing to let them adopt her out-of-wedlock baby. The only problem is the girl doesn’t know they’re Jewish. All she knows about Jews is what her farmer father told her, “They...
    PUBLISHED BY SAMUEL FRENCH Kosher Lutherans is a curveball comedy about an infertile Jewish couple and their desperate attempts to have a baby. One day their dreams come true - they meet a young, naïve, pregnant girl from Iowa who is willing to let them adopt her out-of-wedlock baby. The only problem is the girl doesn’t know they’re Jewish. All she knows about Jews is what her farmer father told her, “They control Hollywood and killed Jesus.” In an attempt not to blow the deal the couple decides to pose as Lutherans, leading to hysterical twists and turns and a perfect play for the holiday season.