ST. LOUIS: Shakespeare Festival St. Louis has selected three emerging playwrights to participate in the company’s new initiative, the Confluence Regional Writers Project. Mariah L. Richardson and Shualee Cook, both of St. Louis, and Kristin Idaszak, of Chicago, have been chosen to participate. Carter Lewis, a playwriting and dramaturgy professor at Washington University in St. Louis, will serve as the Festival’s 2019 Playwriting Fellow. Lewis will provide mentorship to the emerging playwrights throughout his year-long residency, and will receive a commission for a new work to be developed during the Festival.
“Confluence brings together two of the Festival’s top priorities: investing in local artists and engaging with our surrounding region,” said executive producer Tom Ridgely in a statement. “This sparkling cohort of writers is speaking from the unique perspective of not only who they are, but also where they live and work. If we truly want to understand what’s going on in America today, we need voices like theirs as part of our country’s cultural conversation.”
The program will include an annual Emerging Playwrights Cohort, staged readings, and public workshops. The playwrights will attend a weekend retreat and visit St. Louis for monthly writing sessions and workshops. The theatre will provide resources, space, professional development opportunities, and a stipend for participants. Nancy Bell, who works as the adaptor for the company’s Shakespeare in the Streets productions, will serve as Confluence project director.
“It’s an incredible opportunity for us to work with these very talented up-and-coming playwrights who live both locally and regionally throughout the Midwest,” said Bell in a statement. “While St. Louis has a tremendous theatre scene, with lots of great opportunities for actors, directors, and designers, we thought it important to cast a light on the ones who actually start the process for everyone else, the playwrights themselves. The Emerging Playwrights Cohort will help us do just that by creating more resources for playwrights and helping to foster a more vibrant culture of new play development throughout our region.”