Missouri Self-Taught: Lanford Wilson and the American Drama - Conference schedule and information

Conference Schedule April 26-April 29, 2018

Thursday, April 26, 2018

10:00 AM-12:00 PM – Guest Artists teach master classes

  • Tanya Berezin – Acting - Studio 4 – Studio 4, McKee Gymnasium
  • Marshall Mason & Daniel Irvine – Directing the New Play - Rhynsburger Theatre
  • Mary Sue Price – Playwriting – Ellis Library, Room 114A

1:30-4:30 PM – Reading of Chat Rats: Oronogo, of The Chat Rats Trilogy by Mary Sue Price, with Guest Artists in Attendance (Mason, Irvine, Berezin, Price) – Studio 4, McKee Gymnasium

7:30 PM – The Rimers of Eldritch – Rhynsburger Theatre, Guest Artists attend Production, (Mason, Irvine, Berezin, Price)

10:00 PM – Alpha Psi Omega Reception – Lobby, Rhynsburger Theatre

Friday, April 27, 2018

First Day of Conference – Missouri Self-Taught: Lanford Wilson and the American Drama

9:00-10:30 AM – Archivist Panel Session “Documenting Off-off-Broadway: The Lanford Wilson Collection & The Billy Rose Theatre Collection” – Ellis Library Room 114A*

Anselm Huelsbergen, University of Missouri Archivist, Panel Chair

Kelli Hansen, Library, Ellis Library, Special Collections & Rare Books

Annemarie van Roessel, Assistant Curator in the Billy Rose Theatre Division at the New York Public Library

10:45 AM-12:15 PM – Panel Session: “Lanford Wilson and the Queerness, Subversion, and Silence” – Ellis Library Room 114A

“’Age Takes You Over and Buries You’: the Death Drive and Rhetorical Silence in The Madness of Lady Bright” - Vanessa Campagna, PhD, Monmouth College, Panel Chair

“The Madness of the Balm: A Phenomenological Exploration of two plays by Lanford Wilson” – Itohan Amayo, BA Theatre Student, University of Missouri

“Necessary Distractions as Integral Tactics: Queer Visibility in Lanford Wilson’s Balm in Gilead” - Darren Blaney, PhD, University of Miami, FL

"The Gingham Dog: Queer without Culture" Derek Munson, PhD Student, University of Missouri

12:30-1:30 PM – Lunch – Theatre 4/Rhysburger Gallery

1:15 PM - Book Signings – Rhynsburger Lobby

1:45-3:15 PM – Guest Artists Panel - “Early Lanford and Off-off-Broadway” -– Rhynsburger Theatre with David A. Crespy, PhD, University of Missouri, interviewer.

Marshall W. Mason, Tony Award-winning director of Lanford Wilson’s plays

Tanya Berezin, Artistic Director of Circle Repertory Theatre, Executor of Lanford Wilson Estate

Daniel Irvine, Director, Circle Repertory Theatre PlayLab

Mary Sue Price, Playwright, Lanford Wilson’s protégé, Circle Repertory Theatre PlayLab

3:30-4:45 PM - Panel Session: “Moundbuilders & Rain Dance: Power, Science, and Civilization” – Ellis Library Room 114A

“Creating the world and mood of The Mound Builders: an archival exploration of the nature imagery and sounds in Lanford Wilson’s acclaimed play” - Rebecca Holley, PhD Student, University of Missouri, Panel Chair

“The Struggle at Blue Shoals: Lanford Wilson’s The Mound builders & the Phenomenology of Power” - Joshua Saboorizadeh, MA Theatre Student, University of Missouri

“The Nuclear Overreacher: Landscape, Spirituality, and Science in Lanford Wilson’s Rain Dance” – Taylor Sklenar, MA Theatre Student, University of Missouri

7:30 PM – The Rimers of Eldritch – Performance – Rhynsburger Theatre

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Second Day of Conference – Missouri Self-Taught: Lanford Wilson and the American Drama

9:00-10:30 AM – First Conference Panel Session – “Remembering Lanford in Ozark – Missouri in the late 1950s,” Dr. David Crespy, panel chair - Ellis Library Room 114A

Dr. Elise Crane, Ozark, MO historian

Ronald Tindle, high school friend

Betty Forester, high school friend

Carole Campbell Collins, high school friend

10:45 AM-12:15 PM –Panel Session: “Wilson and his Influences – Violence in the family” – Ellis Library Room 114A

“Summer And Smoke: Anatomy Of Influence” - Henry Schvey, PhD, Washington University, Panel Chair

“Violence in Rural America: Lanford Wilson’s The Rimers of Eldritch” – Leah Huskey, BA Theatre Student, University of Missouri

“Distant Neighbors – William Inge and Lanford Wilson” – Philip Middleton Williams, PhD, University of Colorado – Boulder

“Chosen or Given: The creation of family in the plays of Lanford Wilson” – David Marcia, PhD, Indiana State University

12:30-1:30 PM – Lunch– Rhynsburger Theatre Gallery

1:15 PM - Book Signings – Rhynsburger Lobby

1:45-3:15 PM – Guest Artists Panel - “Lanford Wilson and Circle Repertory Theatre” -– Rhynsburger Theatre with Jackson Bryor, PhD, University of Maryland, interviewer.

Marshall W. Mason, Tony Award-winning director of Lanford Wilson’s plays

Tanya Berezin, Artistic Director of Circle Repertory Theatre, Executor of Lanford Wilson Estate

Daniel Irvine, Director, Circle Repertory Theatre PlayLab

Mary Sue Price, Playwright, Lanford Wilson’s protégé, Circle Repertory Theatre PlayLab

3:30-4:45 PM - Panel Session: “Digging Lanford Wilson – An Archival Approach to his Plays” – Ellis Library Room 114A

“The Artist in the Archives: Lanford Wilson and Self-Taught design/Outsider Art in Rimers of Eldritch” – Xiomara Cornejo, PhD Student, University of Missouri, Panel Chair

“A Woman in Combat: Feminism in Lanford Wilson’s Book of Days” – Kristina Foley, BA Theatre Student, University of Missouri

“Lanford to Lance, an Archival Research on the Dynamics of the Relationship Between Lanford Wilson and James Bohan” – Al (Mohammadali) Dabiri, PhD Student, University of Missouri

“Lanford Wilson, Burn This and Pale: An Archival Journey into the Development of a Character” – Aaron Scully, University of Central Missouri

7:30 PM – The Rimers of Eldritch – Performance – Rhynsburger Theatre

Sunday, April 29, 2018

2:00 PM – The Rimers of Eldritch – Final Performance – Rhynsburger Theatre

Conference Coordinator: Dr. David A. Crespy

Graduate Student Conference Coordinators: Derek Munson, Joshua Saboorizadeh, Taylor Sklenar, Al Dabiri, Simona Simkins

Biographies, Featured Guest Artists

Marshall W. Mason
Marshall MasonMarshall W. Mason (born February 24, 1940) is an American theater director, educator and author. He was the founder and for eighteen years, artistic director of the Circle Repertory Company in New York City (1969-1987). He received the Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre in 2016.

Born in Amarillo, Texas, Mason graduated in 1961 with a B.S. in theater from Northwestern University, where he directed Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the age of 19, winning his first award for directing. Upon graduating, he relocated to Manhattan, where he began working in the off-off-Broadway theater scene in such venues as Caffe Cino, the La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, and Judson Poets Theatre. He made his off-Broadway debut in 1964 with a revival of the Henrik Ibsen play Little Eyolf. His Broadway debut was on February 24, 1976 with Jules Feiffer´s Knock Knock.

In 1965 he directed Balm in Gilead, his first collaboration with playwright Lanford Wilson. Since then he directed more than sixty productions of Wilson's plays, which Playbill has identified as the longest collaboration between a playwright and director in the history of the American theater. Among these are The Hot l Baltimore (1973), for which he won his first Obie Award for Distinguished Direction, Fifth of July (1978), Talley's Folly (1979), Angels Fall (1983), Burn This (1987), Redwood Curtain (1992), and Book of Days (2002).

Mason has directed twelve productions on Broadway and has been nominated for the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play five times. His first Broadway production was the 1976 play Knock Knock by Jules Feiffer, for which he received his first Tony nomination. Additional Broadway credits include Albert Innaurato's Gemini (1977), Robert Clark and Sam Bobrick's Murder at the Howard Johnson's (1979), Wilsons' Fifth of July (1980), Talley's Folly (1980), Angels Fall (1983), Peter Nichols' Passion (1983), William M. Hoffman's As Is (Drama Desk Award for Best Play, 1985), Wilson's Burn This (1988), Chekhov's The Seagull (1992), Rupert Holmes' Solitary Confinement (1992) and Wilson's Redwood Curtain (1992). From 1983 to 1986, Mason was president of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, a national labor union.

Off-Broadway Mason was awarded five Obies for Outstanding Direction for The Hot l Baltimore (1973), the New York premiere of Tennessee Williams' Battle of Angels (1974), Wilson's The Mound Builders (1975), Jules Feiffer's Knock Knock (1976), Wilson's Serenading Louie (1976), and a sixth Obie Award for Sustained Achievement (1983). Memorable off-Broadway productions he directed include Edward J. Moore's The Sea Horse (1974), Romulus Linney's Childe Byron (1981), Wilson's Talley & Son (1985), William Mastrosimone's Sunshine (1989), Larry Kramer's The Destiny of Me (1992), Wilson's Sympathetic Magic (1997) and Book of Days (2002).

He has worked widely in regional theaters, including the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago, Arena Stage and Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C., the McCarter Theater in Princeton, the Hartford Stage Company, the Pittsburgh Public Theater, the Repertory Theater of St. Louis, the Cincinnati Playhouse, and the Milwaukee Rep. For one season (1988), he was Guest Artistic Director for the Ahmanson Theater of the Los Angeles Center Theater Group. In addition, he directed three productions in London and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the National Theatre of Japan in Tokyo.

For television, Mason directed William Inge’s Picnic, Lanford Wilson’s The Mound Builders and Fifth of July, and Robert Patrick’s Kennedy's Children. He received two Cable ACE Award nominations for his productions on Showtime.

On Broadway, Mason was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play five times. Off-Broadway, he received five Obie Awards for Outstanding Direction of a play and a sixth Obie for Sustained Achievement. He is the recipient of the 1979 Theatre World Award, and the 1977 Margo Jones Award for his discovery and nurturing of new playwrights and actors in his work with the Circle Repertory Company. In 1999 he was recognized with a "Mr. Abbott Special Millennium Award" as one of the most innovative and influential directors of the twentieth century. In 2014, he was elected to the Theater Hall of Fame. He received the 2015 Artistic Achievement Award from the New York Innovative Theater Foundation. In 2016, Mason received the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.

Mason is Professor Emeritus of Theater at Arizona State University, where he taught for ten years, and was honored with ASU’s 2001 Creative Activity Award. From 1994 to 1995 he was the chief drama critic for the Phoenix New Times, a weekly newspaper. He received the 1995 Phoenix Press Club Award for writing about the performing arts. He is the author of the 2007 book Creating Life On Stage: A Director's Approach to Working with Actors, and The Transcendent Years: Circle Repertory Theater and the '60's, published online in 2016.

He is a member of the prestigious College of Fellows of the American Theatre at the Kennedy Center.

Tanya Berezin
Tanya BerezinTanya Berezin is the executor of the Lanford Wilson Estate. A gifted actress, artistic director, and educator, Berezin was a co-founder of the Circle Repertory Company, along with Lanford Wilson, Marshall.W. Mason, and Rob Thirkield. The company moved in 1974 to Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village, New York. It began there with a production of Tennessee Williams' first full-length play, Battle of Angels, which starred Berezin. Reviewing that production in The New York Times, Walter Kerr wrote, "Miss Berezin is a revelation.…The apparent contradictions of the role bleed into one another so subtly that you are not quite aware of the moment that this caged soul comes whole; but the whole person comes, ferocious, straight-laced, jealous, grateful … There is scarcely a finer performance in New York just now."

At La Mama in the 1960s she appeared in several plays, including Lanford Wilson’s first full-length play, Rimers of Eldrige, which was directed by the author, and also featured Michael Warren Powell; and Spring Play, by William M. Hoffman, which also featured Harvey Keitel; and The Sand Castle, or There is a Tavern in the Town, or Harry can Dance, also by Lanford Wilson, and directed by Marshall Mason.

Tanya Berezin served as Artistic Director of Circle Rep from 1986 to 1994 after Founding Artistic Director, Marshall W. Mason retired. Under her leadership Circle Rep presented the work of some of America’s foremost theater artists including playwrights Lanford Wilson, Jon Robin Baitz, Larry Kramer, Craig Lucas, Sam Shepherd, and Paula Vogel; directors Joe Mantello, Gloria Muzio, and, of course, Marshall W. Mason; and actors Julie Harris, William Hurt, Mary Louise Parker, Cherry Jones, Debra Monk, Bobby Canavalle, and Ron Rifkin.

At the same time she oversaw the participation of over 200 artists in the Circle Rep Lab, a protected artistic workshop environment, based on Caffe Cino, where playwrights, actors and directors would experiment and develop. As artistic director of Circle Rep, Berezin produced Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel’s first play, The Baltimore Waltz; Vogel described that experience, and said "I would not exist if it weren’t for Tanya Berezin." Berezin brought to the stage such acclaimed productions as Lonely Planet, 3 Hotels, Reckless, Prelude to a Kiss, and Destiny of Me.

As an actress she was seen at Circle Rep as Queen Elizabeth in Schiller’s MARY STUART, and Myra in Tennessee Wiliams’ BATTLE OF ANGELS. In 1976, Berezin played Dr. Erikson in Circle Rep’s premier production of Lanford Wilson’s The Mound Builders for which she received an Obie Award. Harold Clurman, reviewing Friedrich Schiller’s play Mary Stuart in The Nation said that a special note of praise was due "for Tanya Berezin as Queen Elizabeth, particularly in the moments of her steely calculations, dark resentments and self-determined and regal loneliness," and that her Queen Elizabeth was "depicted with incisive psychological understanding". She appeared on Broadway in Mr. Wilson’s The 5th of July and Angels Fall. Her film and tv credits include Awakenings, Compromising Positions, St. Elsewhere, and Law and Order. Of her performance in Lanford Wilson’s play Angels Fall, New York magazine said, "Tanya Berezin does a dazzling balancing act with superiority and edginess as the older woman to whom age brings both wisdom and insecurity; her performance is both lancet and whatever poultice there may be."

With a career spanning over three decades in Off-Broadway, Broadway, television and film, Tanya Berezin now teaches acting in her New York studio and coaches actors in all stages of their career privately and on set. Her students have gone on to major and award-winning roles in television and film. She has coached major roles in such shows as Law & Order, Oz, Will & Grace, and Ally McBeal, and films including Superman Returns, Night in the Museum, and The Station Agent. She has coached on set for daytime dramas including As the World Turns, One Life to Live, and All My Children where she was Resident Acting Coach for five years.

Daniel Irvine
Daniel IrvineDaniel Irvine (Director) holds an M.F.A. in theater arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he acted in Lanford Wilson's The Rimers of Eldritch and directed Home Free! He began his professional theater career in 1974 as a production assistant for Circle Repertory Company in New York and later became resident director and a member of the Company. As Artistic Director of the LAB, Mr. Irvine worked with many actors, directors, and playwrights, creating classes, workshops and a performance space for developmental work. He also created the popular Late Show, series which showcased original one-act plays following the main stage productions.

As the initial production of Late Show, Mr. Irvine directed the world premiere of Lanford Wilson's Brontosaurus. Other productions at Circle Repertory Theatre include Anne Chislett's Quiet in the Land, In Connecticut by Roy London, and Cabin 21 by John Bishop, in addition to directing the 1983 Young Playwrights Festival hosted by Circle Repertory Theatre.

Mr. Irvine received the first National Endowment Directing Fellowship in 1981, and was invited to the former Soviet Union in 1985 as a distinguished theater artist. He moved to Los Angeles in 1986 and produced the first production On the Edge, a series of 10 original one-act plays in 1987 for Circle Rep West. At the Lee Strasberg Institute, Mr. Irvine directed the world premiere of Lanford Wilson's Thymus Vulgaris. He taught acting and directing for ten years at Arizona State University. He continues to work with a local theater group in Mazatlán called El Recreo.

Mary Sue Price
Mary Sue PriceA fifth generation native of the Missouri Ozarks, Mary Sue Price writes about people who fall through the cracks in rural America. She recently completed a writing residency at Immediate Medium in New York City where Chat Rats: Oronogo was presented in a staged reading, directed by JJ Lind, and is scheduled for a showcase production in May 2018. She worked on The Chat Rats Trilogy during residencies at the Inge Center for the Arts in Independence, Kansas, in 2017 and 2014. She’ll continue her work on the plays at the Inge in 2018 with Mr. Lind. Her play, Billy the Bomber, is set for an Off-Off Broadway production in 2019, directed by Mr. Lind. Billy the Bomber was a semi-finalist for the 2014 O’Neill Playwrights Conference and Page 73, a play development program in New York City. It was presented as a staged reading as part of the Summer Playwrights Festival 2016 in North Hollywood, directed by Bob Guza. Her short play, That Midnight Rodeo, is frequently produced throughout the United States.

Ms. Price has won two Emmy Awards (2009, 2003) and a 2012 WGA Award as a scriptwriter for General Hospital. She was a member of the Playwrights Unit and the Lab, where several of her plays were produced, at the Circle Repertory Company in New York City. She holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from Tisch School of the Arts, NYU. She has worked as an entertainment editor, music columnist, and theater critic for newspapers in Missouri and Oklahoma. A lifetime member of the Writers’ Guild of America and a longtime member of the Dramatists’ Guild, she lived in New York City for years and now lives in Vermont.

David Crespy
David Crespy is professor of playwriting, acting, dramatic literature at the University of Missouri, founded MU's Writing for Performance program and serves its co-director. He is the founding Artistic Director of MU's Missouri Playwrights Workshop, and the president of the Edward Albee Society. David’s plays have been developed and produced at theatres across the US including the Cherry Lane Theatre, River Union Stage, NJ Dramatists, Playwrights Theatre of NJ, Nebraska Repertory Theatre, Primary Stages, The Cherry Lane Theatre, The Playwrights Center, HB Playwrights Foundation, Austin Melodrama, Jewish Repertory Theatre, Stages St. Louis, First Run Theatre (St. Louis), and Creative Theatre Unlimited. His articles have appeared in Theatre History Studies, New England Theatre Journal, Latin American Theatre Review, The Journal of American Drama and Theatre, The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, The Dramatist, Slavic and East European Performance and www.glbtq.com. His books include The Off-Off Broadway Explosion, with a foreword by Edward Albee (Backstage Books, 2003); Richard Barr: The Playwrights’ Producer, with a foreword and afterword by Edward Albee (SIU Press, March 2013). His most recent book project is Lanford Wilson: Early Stories, Sketches, and Poems, which he is editing, with afterword by Marshall Mason. His current writing projects include two stage plays Bad French; or The Dishonest Heart, a metaphysical farce with Oscar Wilde’s ghost child and a flying plesiosaur; The Sad Girl, a play which explores soothsaying and serial murder; and Wretched Grace, an original screenplay locating Celtic myths within the contemporary text of alien abduction.


Itohan Amayo is from Kansas City, Missouri and is a senior at the University of Missouri studying Communication (Mass Media) with a minor in Theatre. Itohan hopes to one day get into writing and video production for an entertainment news outlet. As theatre is Itohan’s first love, she has a passion for performing but would also like to eventually start a career in play/screenwriting.

Darren Blaney is a lecturer at the University of Miami Department of Theatre, and is scholar and theater artist who previously taught theater history and practice at Pomona College, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the University of California, Davis. He earned his Ph.D. in Dramatic Art with a graduate minor in Critical Theory at UC Davis, where he was awarded the Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship. His doctoral dissertation, entitled “Staging the Social and Cruising the Crisis: A genealogy of utopian aspiration in U.S. queer theater,” examined theatrical responses to various historical crises in the 20th and 21st Centuries. He also holds an STC Certificate in Acting from the American Conservatory Theater, a Graduate Certificate in Acting from UC Santa Cruz, and a B.A. in Art from Reed College.

Jackson R. Bryer is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he taught undergraduate and graduate courses, primarily in American literature and American and modern dramatic literature, for 41 years. He is the editor of Conversations with Lillian Hellman (1986); Conversations with Thornton Wilder (1992) Lanford Wilson: A Casebook (1994); and The Playwright’s Art: Conversations with Contemporary American Dramatists (1995), which includes his interview with Lanford Wilson. He is also the co-editor of William Inge: Essays and Reminiscences on the Plays and the Man (2014), Eugene O’Neill: The Contemporary Reviews (2014), Thornton Wilder: New Perspectives (2013), Selected Letters of Eugene O’Neill (1988), The Actor’s Art: Conversations with Contemporary American Stage Performers (2001), and The Art of the American Musical: Conversations with the Creators (2005), and The Selected Letters of Thornton Wilder (2008).

Vanessa Campagna is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Monmouth College; she teaches dramatic literature, script analysis, theatre history, and theatre for social change. She holds a PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Missouri. Her work has been included in the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, Journal of American Drama and Theatre, Popular Culture Studies Journal, Proud Heritage: People, Issues, and Documents of the LGBT Experience, and LGBT America: Problems and Solutions (forthcoming 2018). She is a member of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, the American Theatre and Drama Society, and the Edward Albee Society.

Xiomara Cornejo is a Salvadoran-American theatre director/designer/dramaturg, visual artist, and arts activist from Compton, California. Her professional work includes theatre directing, after-school arts programming, applied theatre, and community arts organizing. Xiomara is currently a Ph.D. student of Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Missouri (MU) with a research focus on protest and street theatre, multi-cultural theatre, political puppetry, visual performance, and theatre as activism. Additionally, she is an Associate Director of the Center for Applied Theatre and Drama Research, Graduate Student Representative for the American Theatre and Drama Society, and member of the Graduate Theatre Organization at MU.

Carole Campbell Collins, is an Ozark, MO native, and was a high school friend of Lanford Wilson. She is a retired businesswoman, a philanthropist, and a community volunteer in the Christian County Museum and Historical Society.

Dr. M. Elise Crain is an Ozark, MO native, and is recognized as an authority on Ozark and Christian County history. She has retired from a career in the construction industry and is an active community volunteer.

Al (Mohammadali) Dabiri is currently a graduate student of theatre at the University of Missouri in Columbia, and has another Masters degree in English Literature from Shiraz University in Iran. His first appearance in American Academic world was at the Second Thornton Wilder Conference in Newport Rhode Island in 2015. After the 2016 ALA conference in San Francisco, he worked on some independent projects until he joined the theatre department at the university of Missouri in 2017. As a research assistant and assistant dramaturg for two major shows at the university, he has also tried to bridge the cultural gap between the Western and Middle-Eastern culture by interpreting the theatrical works done in Middle-East for Western audience. He is a member of Thornton Wilder Society and Edward Albee Society, and has been the assistant editor for the latest Edward Albee Newsletter.

Kristina Foley is a final semester theatre performance major at the University of Missouri. Her field of interest is theatrical directing. In elementary school, Kristina was introduced to the wonders of theatre through her participation in TRYPS Children's Theatre in her hometown, Columbia, Missouri. Throughout her college career, Kristina has gained valuable experiences as an educator and director of youth theatre. Kristina is currently assistant directing Into the Woods at Columbia College. Upon graduation she plans to continue directing plays locally as well as explore possibilities of graduate school.

Betty Forester was born in Lebanon, MO in 1936, and spent her childhood in Ava, Missouri. She went to high school with Lanford Wilson in Ozark, MO and attended Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University), majoring in French. She worked in the airline industry in Chicago, and married Jim Forrester in 1959. She was an administrative secretary for 25 years at Ecumenical Campus Ministry at SMSU. She is proud of her family with three daughters, six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Kelli Hansen is a librarian in the Special Collections department at the University of Missouri Libraries, where she is responsible for teaching, outreach, reference, and web development. She holds a Master’s Degree in Information Science from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Master’s Degree in Art History from the University of Missouri.

Rebecca Holley is a PhD candidate at the University of Missouri. Her research focuses on the symbolic use of nature and the cosmos within American plays and musicals, musical theatre history pedagogy, and the intersection of theatre and religion.

Anselm Huelsbergen is an archivist at the University of Missouri. He was involved with the processing of the bequest which formed the Lanford Wilson Collection at the University of Missouri. He has worked in institutional archives for the past 15 years, and at University Archives, he is responsible for the accession, description, and arrangement of the administrative and historical records of the University of Missouri. Huelsbergen holds degrees in Classical Languages, Art History, and Library Science.

Leah Huskey is a theatre performance major and Spanish language minor in her third and final year at the University of Missouri. She was born and raised in Ashland Missouri, a town not unlike the rural America seen in many of Wilson’s plays. Her work with the Lanford Wilson Collection is her first experience conducting archival research, and her first time on a research panel. After graduation, she plans to move to Chicago to pursue a career in theatre

David Marcia, is a graduate of the PhD Program in Theatre at the University of Missouri, and is a visiting professor at Indiana State Universisty. David’s chapter “The Absurdity of Mimesis: A History of Absurdist Criticism Related to the Plays of Edward Albee” appeared in the first volume of the New Perspectives in Edward Albee Studies book series, Albee and Absurdism. His article “The Actress Plays a Man: Making Neil LaBute’s Reasons to be Pretty Strange” appeared in Methods: A Journal of Acting Pedagogy in November of 2016. His writing has also appeared in Theatre Journal, Contemporary Theatre Review and Poems and Plays. As a playwright, David’s Lust of the Flesh and the Wiles of Sin was a finalist in the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s 2011 National Playwrights Conference. His plays Coward Land and What Breaks Your Heart? were semi-finalists at the O’Neill in 2012 and 2013. His article, “The Aims of Spirit: Performing Marriage in Albee,” in Edward Albee and Sexuality/Gender. Ed. John M. Clum and Cormac O’Brien. New Perspectives in Edward Albee Studies book series. Volume 2. Brill. January 2018.

Derek R. Munson is a second year PhD student at the University of Missouri where he teaches Acting for Non-Majors and Stage Makeup. His scholarship examines Missouri playwright Lanford Wilson, performance studies, and online pedagogy. Recent conferences/festivals include the Graduate Interdisciplinary Forum at Missouri State University, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, and the 2017 KCACTF Critic's Forum. Munson has worked extensively in New York City and in regional theatres as a teaching artist and actor, an award-winning director and producer, and an arts administrator.

Joshua Saboorizadeh, a Masters student in Theatre at the University of Missouri, is an actor, teacher, and emerging theatre scholar. Born and raised in Saint Louis, Joshua has found it personally fulfilling conducting archival research about a fellow Missourian. Before the University of Missouri, Joshua worked for Metro Theatre Company as Executive Assistant and actor, and the Missouri History Museum as Youth and Family Programs Educator.

Henry I. Schvey is Professor of Drama and Comparative Literature, and was chair of the Performing Arts Department from 1987-2007. Prior to his arrival at Washington University, he taught and directed for fourteen years at Leiden University in the Netherlands, where he was a professor of English and American literature. He has lectured and published extensively in the areas of modern European, British and American drama. Among his most significant writings are an interdisciplinary study of the Austrian expressionist Oskar Kokoschka: The Painter as Playwrite, a collection of essays on contemporary American drama and published essays on such American playwrights as Eugene O’Neill, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Lanford Wilson, Sam Shepard, and David Mamet. In addition to his research, he founded the Leiden English Speaking Theatre in the Netherlands and was Artistic Director of this touring Dutch company from 1975 until coming to St. Louis.

Aaron Michael Scully is a teacher, scholar, playwright, actor and director. He has an MBA and an MA in Theatre both from the University of Central Missouri and is a doctoral candidate in Theatre Studies at the University of Missouri – Columbia. In fall 2017, Aaron began working as an Instructor of Theatre at the University of Central Missouri. Aaron’s research focuses on new play development, playwriting, playwriting pedagogy and theatre history. Aaron’s plays have achieved regional and national recognition. Most recently his play Nah’ zhee was the national recipient of the 2016 Planet Earth Arts Playwriting Award which resulted in a performance at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Additionally, his play Roosevelt’s Ghost was nominated for Best Play at the 2017 Pittsburgh New Works Festival.

Taylor Sklenar is a playwright and director from Ames, Iowa. A proponent of eco-theatre, he holds his bachelor’s in chemistry, English, and performing arts from Iowa State University. In his first year in MU Theatre’s Master’s program, Taylor has served as Managing Director of both the Missouri Playwrights’ Workshop and the Mizzou New Play Series.

Ronald Tindle is retired from his work as a legislative aid to a Chicago Alderman. Born in in Springfield, he moved to Ozark for high school, and became friends with Lanford Wilson in his Freshman year, and remained close throughout high school and later. He later moved to Chicago, where he was co-owner of Charmers, a famous art deco gay bar in the Rogers Park neighborhood.

Annemarie van Roessel is the Assistant Curator in the Billy Rose Theatre Division at the New York Public Library, where she works very closely with the Division’s archives and special collection and supports researchers using the division's rare and unique materials. She also assists in acquisitions, collection development, and exhibitions. Van Roessel has worked with arts-related collections as an archivist, oral historian, and curator for more than 20 years, with a particular interest in Off-Broadway theatre and the ways that performance intersects with visual and spatial design. Van Roessel holds a B.A. in Art History and Architecture from Wellesley College and an M.S. in Library and Information Sciences, with an Archives Certificate, from Pratt Institute.

Philip Middleton Williams received his BFA from the University of Miami, his MFA University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, and his PhD from the University of Colorado – Boulder. His doctoral thesis, “A Comfortable House,” on the collaboration of Lanford Wilson and Marshall W. Mason at the Circle Repertory Company, was published in 1993. He has been a participant and scholar at the William Inge Theatre Festival since 1991. His plays have been produced around the country, including “Can’t Live Without You” off Broadway. "A Moment of Clarity" was a finalist in the City Theatre National Award for Short Playwriting in 2017. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild.

Conference Description

This conference has received funding through the Missouri Humanities Council, the Chancellor’s Distinguished Visitor Program, and Mizzou Advantage.

In concert with the scheduled MU Department of Theatre production of Lanford Wilson’s Rimers of Eldritch and the book launch for Lanford Wilson: Early Stories, Sketches, and Poems, and in partnership with MU Libraries and the University of Missouri Press, MU Theatre presents an interdisciplinary conference titled “Missouri Self-Taught: Lanford Wilson and the American Drama,” to focus on Missouri’s own Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Lanford Wilson. The Conference features guest artists Marshall W. Mason, Lanford Wilson’s Tony® Award-winning director; Tanya Berezin, the former artistic director of New York’s Circle Repertory Company, where Wilson’s plays were first produced; Danny Irvine, founding director of its Circle Rep Lab; and Mary Sue Price, an Emmy award-winning Circle Repertory playwright and protégé of Lanford Wilson. The guest artists have confirmed their participation. Both the play, The Rimers of Eldritch, and Lanford Wilson: Early Stories, Sketches, and Poems have been supported in part through research in the new Lanford Wilson Theatre Collection in MU Library’s Special Collections and Rare Books, and this event celebrates this extensive and important collection at the University of Missouri.

The conference and all the events scheduled are free and open to the public and we encourage all major university- and community-based theatre audiences in Missouri to attend and learn more about Lanford Wilson, who despite his fame in New York city as a major American dramatist, is little known in his native Missouri. Our goal is to encourage students and scholars to avail themselves of the new Lanford Wilson Collection located in the University of Missouri Libraries Special Collections and Rare Books, and the event focuses on the discussion and documentation of Lanford Wilson’s life. The panels and presentations will be recorded for scholarly purposes.

The conference features onstage interviews and master classes with the guest artists as well as conference presentations on the life and work of Lanford Wilson. Panelists hail from across the US, and our featured guest scholar is Jackson Bryer, author of Lanford Wilson: A Casebook (Garland, 1993). In addition, members of the MU faculty, as well as graduate and undergraduate students, will participate and present at the conference. The conference is co-sponsored by MU Libraries and other organizations on the MU campus. The conference events will be held in both the Rhynsburger Theatre and Ellis Library. Also invited are Mr. Wilson’s family and friends from Ozark, MO to participate in discussing Wilson’s childhood and high school years.

The conference focuses on Lanford Wilson (1937-2011), a Missouri playwright who helped to advance the Off-Off-Broadway theater movement, producing his earliest plays in New York at the Caffé Cino in 1964. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1980 and was elected in 2001 to the Theater Hall of Fame. In 2004, Wilson was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and received the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award as a Master American Dramatist. He was nominated for three Tony Awards and won a Drama Desk Award and an Obie Award. He remains an important and seminal dramatist in the history of New York theatre.

Wilson’s major plays, including Rimers of Eldritch, Talley’s Folly, Fifth of July, Talley and Son, and Book of Days, all take place in an imagined Missouri, and feature the Ozark voices he knew as a child and youth growing up in Lebanon and Ozark. His legacy as a largely self-taught playwright, who raised himself out of poverty through ingenuity and hard work, is an inspiration to any young Missourian with aspirations in the theatre and humanities. Wilson’s focus on the “outsiders” in American society, including the poor, the addicted and disabled, the aged, minority culture, and the LGBTQ community in his plays The Madness of Lady Bright, Fifth of July, and many of his other plays, provides a window into another America that is rarely explored in American drama.

Wilson was born to Ralph Eugene and Violetta Tate Wilson in Lebanon, Missouri, on April 13, 1937. After his parents' divorce, he moved with his mother to Springfield, Missouri, where they lived until she remarried. When he was 11, they moved to Ozark, Missouri. There, he attended high school and developed a love for film and art. As a child, Wilson enjoyed writing short stories and going to see plays performed at Southwest Missouri State College (now Missouri State University). He developed an interest in acting and played roles in his high school plays, including Tom in The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams.

His mother raised Wilson in Missouri, but in 1956 he moved to California, where he worked and attended college. There, Wilson lived with his father, but they did not get along, and in 1957, he moved to Chicago, where he worked as a graphic artist and studied playwriting. In 1962, he moved to New York and began to write plays for Off-Off-Broadway theatres. His 1964 short play, The Madness of Lady Bright, was his first significant success and led to further works treating gay identity and other social and romantic issues throughout the 1960s. In 1969, he was a co-founder of Circle Repertory Company, for which he wrote many plays in the 1970s. His 1973 play, The Hot l Baltimore, was the company's first major hit with both audiences and critics; its Off-Broadway run exceeded 1,000 performances.

Wilson's Fifth of July was first produced at Circle Rep in 1978; for its Broadway production in 1980, he received a Tony Award nomination. A prequel, Talley's Folly (1979 at Circle Rep), opened on Broadway before Fifth of July and won him the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as a Tony nomination. Burn This (1987) was another Broadway success. Wilson also wrote the libretti for several 20th-century operas. In later years, he lived mostly in Sag Harbor on Long Island and continued to write plays into the 21st century.

Wilson is one of America’s greatest playwrights and, with his Circle Rep company, he supported the work of many other playwrights, including Paula Vogel, Craig Lucas, Jon Robin Baitz, Michael Cristofer, Jules Feiffer, A.R. Gurney, William M. Hoffman, Albert Innaurato, Corinne Jacker, Jim Leonard Jr., Roy London, David Mamet, Timothy Mason, William Mastrosimone, Mark Medoff, Marsha Norman, Robert Patrick, Joe Pintauro, William Missouri Downs, Murray Schisgal, Sam Shepard, and Milan Stitt.

Lanford Wilsons' major plays include:

  • Home Free! (1964)
  • The Madness of Lady Bright (1964)
  • Balm in Gilead (1965)
  • Ludlow Fair (1965)
  • Wandering (1966)
  • The Rimers of Eldritch (1967)
  • The Gingham Dog (1968) (Wilson's first Broadway production in 1969)
  • Lemon Sky (1968)
  • Serenading Louie (1970)
  • The Hot l Baltimore (1973)
  • The Mound Builders (1975)
  • Fifth of July (1978; Broadway 1980–82)
  • Talley's Folly (1979; Broadway 1980)
  • A Tale Told (1981, later revised and renamed Talley & Son)
  • Angels Fall (1982; Broadway 1983)
  • Burn This (1986; Broadway 1987–88)
  • Abstinence (1989)
  • Redwood Curtain (1992; Broadway 1993)
  • A Sense of Place (1996)
  • Sympathetic Magic (1998)
  • Book of Days (2000)
  • Rain Dance (2002)
Lanford Wilson Conference at MU