The Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis invites playwrights to submit original one-act plays for our 2020 Playwriting Initiative. At least three winners will be chosen by our panel of playwrights. The winning plays will be presented in a staged reading, with professional actors, as an element of the 2020 Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis, May 7-17, 2020. 


The winning playwrights will be invited to attend the staged reading and to participate in a talkback panel—featuring the other winners and the judges—at the conclusion of the event. The plays, with playwrights’ biographies, will be listed in the official Festival program.The winning playwrights will be provided with Festival passes. (The Festival will not be able to provide other compensation or reimbursement.)

Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams started out in St. Louis writing one-act plays, and one of his biggest breaks was winning a competition sponsored by the Group Theater in New York—the first time he signed his name as “Tennessee” rather than “Tom.” He wrote more than seventy throughout his career—sometimes edgy, often experimental, and always infused with his unsurpassed poetry. Many of them have been presented at the Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis, several as world premieres. We invite you to find your inspiration in his artistry and to share it with us.

The panel is chaired by Jack Ciapciak, winner of New York University’s 2017 Goldberg Playwriting Prize and winner of our own inaugural Playwriting Initiative. Judges also include Deanna Jent, whose play Falling has been produced on Broadway, and Gregory Carr, who teaches playwriting at Harris Stowe University. 

Guidelines for submission:

  • The play must be no more than 15 minutes long.
  • The play must not have been professionally produced (although plays that have been workshopped or presented as staged readings are acceptable).
  • The play must be submitted by the author of the play.
  • Only one submission per author.
  • The author must include a statement of no longer than 250 words, including a brief biography, contact information, and author’s availability to attend the staged reading and serve on the talkback panel. (Attendance is requested but not mandatory.)
  • The play must be in a PDF in Standard Playwriting Format. 
  • Submit your materials by March 1, 2020, to [email protected] with the subject line 2020 Playwriting Initiative.

Winners will be notified no later than April 1, 2020. By submitting the play, authors give performance rights to the Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis for the May, 2020 event, as well as possible other uses in connection with the 2020 Festival. Authors retain all other rights. 

For more information, visit the website: www.twstl.org

The fourth annual Tennessee Williams Festival will celebrate the great American playwright with 10 days of plays, panel discussions and parties in the Grand Arts Center, set for May 9-19.“A Night of the Iguana”The steamy and startling Iguana is one of the most richly textured and dramatically satisfying plays written by Williams. Reverend Shannon has lost his flock, his religion, and has—at the very least— misplaced his sanity and sense of decency. He takes refuge at a rundown resort owned by the lusty and busty Maxine, where they are joined by the beautifully refined but repressed Hannah, and Nonno, her nonagenarian grandfather. These two may be scam artists, but they are artists all the same; as such, they offer some brief hope of redemption.

At the Grandel Theatre, 3160 Grandel Square

Bryan Batt

“Dear Mr. Williams” starts May 10Conceived, written, and performed by Bryan Batt, SAG Award winner (“Mad Men”) and Drama Desk Award nominee (Broadway’s Sunset Boulevard, Cats); directed by Michael Wilson, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award winner (The Orphans’ Home Cycle). The tumultuous—and sometimes treacherous—journey from adolescence to adulthood is one we all must take, but Batt’s one-man tour de force proves that it’s oh so much more fascinating and fun with Tennessee Williams as your guide.

At The Curtain Call Lounge, 527 Grand Blvd.

Kelly Weber, Ellie Schwetye, Julie Layton“A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur” Opens May 11Four eccentric and unforgettable women fry chicken, plan a picnic to Creve Coeur Lake, and cope with loneliness and lost dreams in an efficiency apartment on Enright Avenue in the Central West End circa the mid-1930s.

Williams gives us more laughs than usual, but no less poetry or poignancy.

At the Grandel Theatre, 3160 Grandel Square

Panels are part of TWF“Conversations with Tennessee” May 11Three panels address aspects of the author’s life and work. Each will begin with a brief performance of material from Tennessee Williams’s letters, journals, or other writing, followed by a discussion between artists and scholars. Moderated by Tom Mitchell, panelists will include Melissa Wolfe, Gregory Carr, Jesse Munoz, David Kaplan, Tim Ocel, Sophia Brown, and Henry Schvey.

At The Dark Room, 3160 Grandel Square

Ken Page

“Tennessee Williams Tribute 2019” May 12Join us as we celebrate the culmination of the opening weekend of the Tennessee Williams Festival. In poetry, prose, and song, this tribute reading reveals Williams’ take on those who are “waiting for something to happen” and those for whom “everything has happened already”.

Ken Page hosts an entertaining evening presented by a collection of Festival artists, curated by noted Williams scholar, Tom Mitchell. Stay after the performance to mix with other Festival goers and artists, as The Dark Room hosts us for drinks and light hors d’ oeuvres.

At The Dark Room, 3160 Grandel Square

Tennesee’s gravesite in Calvary Cemetery

Bus Tour May 19Retrace the roots of Tennesse Williams’ formative years. From attending high school at Soldan and University City High, to studying at the University of Missouri-Columbia and Washington University, to working downtown and exploring the city’s rich cultural institutions – Tennessee Williams’ classic works were influenced by his coming of age in St. Louis. Hosted with immense wit and charm by Williams enthusiasts, Brian Welch and Dan McGuire

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.twstl.org