William Missouri Downs

New Plays


An absurdist comedy about the labels we attach to each other and how we act as if those labels capture the sum total of who we are. Chris,  a white newly hired adjunct professor in a diverse English department, is assigned Dorothy, a transwoman as his TA. Chris attempts to act ‘woke,” but his ultra-conservative Mormon childhood haunts him. The University’s laughable diversity and inclusion training webinar “You Can’t Say That” only complicates things. The department then decides that all faculty and students are to wear name tags which label their personal nouns and pronouns so no one will be mis-identified. Chris isn’t sure which labels fit him. Then he discovers that his politically incorrect gaffes and internal struggles are going public. This quick moving comedy, filled with ridiculous webinars and student-written absurdist plays-within-the-play, comes to a climax when the Angel Moroni bursts in and fucks everything up. You Can’t Say That features a diverse cast and innovative staging as it asks if a man labeled “white, un-woke, cis, male & Mormon” can find enlightenment?


Sylvia, a divorced Hollywood screenwriter, fueled by antidepressants, is losing her grip as her writing career slides into middle-aged female oblivion. Desperate for work she takes a crap job writing an "inspiring" family channel movie about a child's lung transplant. But soon, Sylvia begins to wonder if the child's mother Ivanka's telling of the "true story" is based in reality. The result is a new dramedy inspired by Ivanka Trump's line, "Perception is more important than reality. If someone perceives something to be true, it is more important than if it is in fact true." To complicate things, Sylvia's teenage son believes that when he plays the video game 'Drone Strike' he is actually killing people in Afghanistan. This comedy questions what is real in a world full of fake and alternative facts.