Shakespeare Festival St Louis - In the News


November 20-23, 2019

Staged readings of four new Festival commissioned plays.

At the Kranzberg Arts Center


The Confluence Regional Writers Project was created by Shakespeare Festival St. Louis in 2018. The goal is to further foster a regional culture of playwriting by providing support and inspiration to emerging playwrights in St. Louis and its radiating regions through a Playwriting Fellowship, an Emerging Playwrights Cohort,  new plays commissioned and developed by the Festival, and writing workshops.


Wednesday, November 20 at 8 p.m.
The Story Blinked
Written by Carter W. Lewis
Directed by Tom Martin
In final moments of H.G. Well’s delightful story, The Country of the Blind, the central character of Nunez abandons love, walks off into the mountains, and dies. But in the present day, Nunez is no longer willing to be the cooperative character of bygone years. Each night, he annoys his fellow characters toward action and demands a chance to alter his fate. This fiercely funny journey asks the question: Can any of us really change who we are, or are we eternally doomed to trudge-on in the manner that we’ve already lived?

Thursday, November 21 at 8 p.m.
Suffer the Children
Written by Mariah L. Richardson
Directed by Jacqueline Thompson
The school is on lock-down and surrounded by SWAT police. What does it all mean? Will Lupe be deported to Mexico? Is there an armed gunman running loose in the halls? What information is Stanley withholding? A follow-up play of Delilah’s Wish, this dramatic piece looks at the topical issues of race, white supremacy, gun violence, and immigration. Suffer the Children approaches these issues from real fears that children and many others in our society face, today.

Friday, November 22 at 8 p.m.
And Certain Women
Written by Shualee Cook
Directed by Deanna Jent
Yohannah. Shoshannah. Blink, and you’ll miss their names, but they’re there. Listed among those traveling with Jesus through Galilee in the Gospel of Luke, “and certain women… who provided for Him out of their resources.” In the background of all his teachings and miracles, YoYoh and Shosh are there with their more famous compatriot Mags – running crowd control, scouting for good sermon locations, picking up after a particularly messy Passover dinner, and all the while wondering where the meteoric rise of this prophet they’ve grown to love is going, and what say, if any, they get to have in where it ends up.

Saturday, November 23 at 8 p.m.
Tidy: A Play About Mass Extinction
Written by Kristin Idaszak
Directed by Lucy Cashion
A struggling detective novelist recently read a self-help book about how to be happy. Actually, it’s about how to tidy. As she cleans her house, the novelist excavates her own personal history and the history of the planet. But as she discovers troubling gaps in her memory, a series of clues lead her closer to an answer she may not want to find. Tidy: a play about mass extinction examines the holes in our lives that we try to fill through consumption, and how we decide what to keep and what to leave behind. Who and what will survive the sixth mass extinction? And will it spark joy?


Meet the 2019 Emerging Playwrights Cohort

The Emerging Playwrights Cohort is a group of emerging playwrights who meet monthly for day-long workshops and writing sessions in St. Louis. Each playwright commits to producing a new full-length work. Each playwright will be assigned a director, a dramaturg, and actors to work with on a public reading of the play during the Festival season.

Shualee Cook

Shualee Cook has been writing theatre in the Midwest for so long that she’s starting to forget how to speak Californian. She is the winner of the 2019 Parity Commission, and has been a resident playwright at Tesseract Theatre in Saint Louis and Stage Left Theatre in Chicago. Productions, readings and workshops include Earworm (Tesseract Theatre, Campfire Theatre Festival), Cercle Hermaphroditos (Stage Left Theatre Summer Reading, Queer Village Reading Series), An Invitation Out (Mustard Seed Theatre, Quantum Dragon Theatre, Benchmark Theatre Fever Dream Festival), Sunset Artists of the American West,” (2016 Chicago New Work Festival, About Face Theatre), “Tempest In A Teapot” (R-S Theatrics, 2016 Idle Muse Athena Festival), and “The Geography of Nowhere’ (Mustard Seed Theatre). She was the Honorable Mention playwright for the 2019 Annual Parity Commission, has been a finalist for the 2019 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, 2016 Jane Chambers Award, the 2016 David Calicchio Award, and a two-time finalist for the Goodman Theatre Playwrights Unit.

Kristin Idaszak

Kristin Idaszak is a Chicago-based playwright, dramaturg, and performance maker, and the Artistic Director of Cloudgate Theatre. Her play “Second Skin” received the Kennedy Center’s Paula Vogel Playwriting Award and the Jean Kennedy Smith Playwriting Award. Her play “Another Jungle” (Relentless Award Honorable Mention) received its world premiere with Cloudgate Theatre and The Syndicate in April 2018. Her work has also been developed through residencies at the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, Stage Left Theatre, and the Qualcomm Institute at Calit2 in San Diego. Kristin has co-created collaborative original work that has been seen at the WoW Festival at La Jolla Playhouse and the Blurred Borders Festival, an international showcase of contemporary dance theatre. She has been nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work and has received two honorable mentions on the Kilroys’ List. She was the 2015 Kennedy Center Fellow at the Sundance Theatre Lab. She has received two Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellowships. Kristin has received commissions from EST/the Sloan Foundation and Cleveland Playhouse. She was the Shank Playwright in Residence at the Goodman Theatre where she dramaturged “The Wolves” and was a member of the 2017-2018 Goodman Playwrights Unit. Kristin is also a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists and an adjunct faculty member at The Theatre School at DePaul University. Previously, Kristin served as Associate Artistic Director/Literary Manager of Caffeine Theatre and Associate Artistic Director of Collaboraction. MFA: University of California, San Diego. BFA: The Theatre School at DePaul University.

Mariah L. Richardson

Mariah L. Richardson is a St. Louis native and received her BA in Communications from the University of New Mexico and an MFA from Smith College in Playwriting. Mariah began her acting career while in New Mexico. Afterwards, she returned to St. Louis and did two seasons with the St. Louis Black Repertory and three seasons with Metro Theater Company. Her HBO/New Writers Project solo performance show, “all that” has toured throughout the country. Her play, “Sistahs Indeed!” was a main stage production at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park in 2008. In 2007, Metro Theater Company commissioned her to write “Delilah’s Wish” which won
a Kevin Kline Award in 2011 and was published by Dramatic Publishing. Gitana Productions commissioned “Soy Yo! An Afro-Latina Suite” in 2013 which premiered at the Kranzberg and remounted at the Missouri History Museum in 2014. Her last play, “Idris Elba is James Bond,” premiered in March 2017 at St. Louis Community College. She was commissioned by the University of Missouri St. Louis to adapt “Alice in Wonderland,” which was produced there in the fall of 2018. She served as the Playwriting Fellow at the Shakespeare Festival St. Louis 2017-2018, in which capacity she helped to rewrite the remounted “Blow Winds!” for the Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ Shakespeare in the Streets program.


Confluence Project Director

Nancy Bell 


Nancy Bell is the author of six Shakespeare in the Streets adaptations, two of which received St. Louis Theatre Circle Awards for Outstanding New Play. She has also written two plays for children inspired by Shakespeare for the Shakespeare Festival Education Program and for the St. Louis Symphony. Nancy was also recognized in 2017 with the St. Louis Visionary Award.  She is the Program Director of Theatre at Saint Louis University.




Inaugural Confluence Fellow

Carter W. Lewis

Carter Lewis teaches Introduction to Playwriting, Advanced Playwriting and Dramaturgy at Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to that, he was Resident Dramaturg & Playwright-in-Residence for The Geva Theatre Center in New York.  Carter was also co-founder and Resident Playwright for Upstart Stage in Berkeley, California. He is the winner of several national playwriting awards including: The Julie Harris – Playwriting Award, The State Theatre – Best New American Play, The Cincinnati Playhouse Rosenthal New Play Prize (’96 & 2001), New Dramatist Arnold Weissberger Playwriting Award, Playwright’s Center Jerome Residency, The Kevin Kline Award for Best New Play of 2009 and he is a two time nominee for the American Theatre Critics Award. For his play, While We Were Bowling, Carter was the recipient of an NEA/TCG Residency Grant for Playwriting, and The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation Award for Best New American Play.



The Confluence Regional Writers Project is generously funded by Sondra & Dorsey Ellis.