William Missouri Downs
William has had over 250 productions of his plays and won numerous writing awards, including rolling premieres from the National New Play Network (Women Playing Hamlet and The Exit Interview). He's twice been a finalist at the Eugene O'Neill (Mad Gravity & How To Steal A Picasso). His plays have been produced by Orlando Shakes, The InterAct Theatre in Philadelphia, The San Diego Rep, The Berkeley Rep, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Salt Lake 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 been produced in Spain, Canada, USA, South Africa, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, Austria, Israel, India, England, Australia, and South Korea. He has published 12 plays: The Exit Interview, Kosher Lutherans & Cockeyed (Samuel French), Mad Gravity, Mr. Perfect, Women Playing Hamlet, Dead White Males (Playscripts), Headset & Seagulls In A Cherry Tree (Heuer Publishing), How To Steal A Picasso (TRW) and Innocent Thoughts & A Doll House (adaptation) (Next Stage Press). He has been a respondent at many play festivals, including the William Inge and The Last Frontier. He was recently honored at the Royal Court Theatre in London as a finalist for the Nick Darke Award. He was trained in playwriting by Milan Stitt and Lanford Wilson at the Circle Rep Theatre in NYC. He is represented by Patricia McLaughlin at the Beacon Artists Agency, NYC.
William has published four books, including The Art Of Theatre (Cengage), which is now in its fourth edition and has been used by over 70,000 college students. Screenplay: Writing the Picture (Silman James), which is in its third edition and is required reading at many film schools (Also published in Poland - Scenariusz Filmowy). His two books on the art of writing for the stage are Naked Playwriting (Silman James) and Playwriting: From Formula To Form (Harcourt Brace).
SCREEN & TELEVISION WRITING
William has an MFA in screenwriting from UCLA. He started as a script secretary on NBC’s Moonlighting (Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd) and worked his way up to a staff writer on the NBC sitcom My Two Dads (Paul Reiser). He also wrote episodes 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. He recently optioned a TV pilot to Hollywood producer Meryl Poster.
ACTING & DIRECTING
William has an MFA in acting from the University of Illinois and was in 20 plays before a slight stammer brought on by a bout with viral encephalitis ended his acting career. He has directed 40 professional, amateur, and academic productions, including Stupid F#%king Bird at The Salt Lake Acting Company. He was trained in directing by Jerzy Antczak, the Oscar-nominated Polish director.
William stumbled up to the Dakota Building seconds after John Lennon was assassinated. He was fired by big band singer Peggy Lee for blowing a spotlight cue. He was held at gunpoint by guards when he broke into the archaeological dig at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt. With little training, he piloted a glider 5,000 feet above Palomar Observatory in California. He's lived in a flophouse in Manhattan, a bungalow in Hollywood, a dormitory in China, a flat in London, a beach house in the Gulf of Mexico, and a log cabin in the mountains of Colorado. Bill is a Super Lark, a person who automatically wakes up between 3 and 4 every morning.
William has to travel. He’s climbed the Great Wall of China, ducked into the Pyramids of Giza, stood where the Colossus of Rhodes once towered, trundled through the Taj Mahal, walked the streets of Pompeii, hiked the ruins of Delos, climbed to the top of the Duomo, marched in the Candlelight Revolution in South Korea, spied into North Korea from the DMZ, touched the walls of Troy, paid respect at the grave of Ira Aldridge, attended Shinto festivals in Tokyo, scowled back at the guards in Tiananmen Square, drank Bacardi in Barbados, beer in Budapest, and Absinthe in Amsterdam, helicoptered atop Columbia Glacier in Alaska, fly fished in Wyoming, taught at the University of Shanghai, been robbed in Manhattan, learned from a mountaintop sadhu in India, taken a curtain call in Vienna, studied the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, lamented at Auschwitz, Birkenau & Hiroshima, protested against fascism in Madrid, smiled at the Mona Lisa, and traveled to twenty-six ancient Greek and Roman Theatres (from England to Turkey).