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NPSS: Mad Gravity

Playwright William Missouri Downs Coming to Salt Lake for
Salt Lake Acting Company's New Play Sounding Series Free Reading of


SLAC's New Play Sounding Series presents a free reading of MAD GRAVITY by William Missouri Downs and directed by John Caywood on Monday, September 30, 2013 at 7:00pm. SLAC is thrilled to welcome Williams Missouri Downs back to the theatre after producing his play THE EXIT INTERVIEW last April. This one night event will feature a reading of this hysterical new play along with a question and answer session with the director, cast and the talented and engrossing Williams Missouri Downs. This creative, absurd play is the Winner of the 2013 Reva Shiner Comedy Award from the Bloomington Playwrights Project and a 2013 finalist at the Eugene O'Neill. The New Play Sounding Series is a part of SLAC's outreach programming which provides an essential testing ground on which playwrights can see their work in progress and receive insightful feedback from the audience in a post-play discussion. We thank the Jarvis and Constance Doctorow Family Foundation for their support of this vital program.

MAD GRAVITY is a comedy about Archie and Eudora, two Dada performance artists who have built a theatre in their living room. Every night before a live audience they act out their lives. You've heard of reality television; think of it as reality theatre. They want to build a second experimental space in their kitchen but they just cannot take any more kitchen sink realism. Artaud would be proud of them.

This Theatre of Cruelty performance concerns their teenage daughter who wants to marry the son of Joe and Mary. All the parties involved have been invited to the house/theatre. But when the kids forget to tell Joe and Mary about the live audience all hell breaks lose.

Things go from bad to worse when they discover that a comet has been spotted in the night sky. There is a 50/50 chance it will hit the earth. Everyone, including the audience, may have only an hour to live. This forces the parents to stop arguing about insignificant things like marriage and start arguing about great philosophical questions of life: Is the comet a sign from God or is it just gravity? And what the hell is performance art?

The one page second act (that's right the second act is one page long) does something no play has ever attempted in the history of theatre - it lets the audience in on the meaning of life.

Playwright William Missouri Downs is a unique and creative talent and SLAC is excited to give Salt Lake City audiences the special opportunity to not only enjoy his hilarious play, but to also interact with Downs and learn more about him, the play and his creative process. This special free night of theatre is not to be missed.


William holds an MFA in acting from the University of Illinois and an MFA in screenwriting from UCLA. He was also trained in playwriting at the Circle Repertory Theatre in New York under Lanford Wilson and Milan Stitt. Since, he has authored over twenty plays, including INNOCENT THOUGHTS, the winner of the National Playwright's Award; JEWISH SPORTS HEROES AND TEXAS INTELLECTUALS, which took first place at the Mill Mountain Theatre's Festival Of New Plays; SEAGULLS IN A CHERRY TREE, the winner of the Larry Corse Prize for playwriting; KABUKI MEDEA, which won the Bay Area Critics Award for best production in San Francisco and the Jefferson Award for best production in Chicago; and THE EXIT INTERVIEW, the winner of the 2012-2013 rolling opening from the National New Play Network. Mr. Downs has had nearly 100 productions from New York to Singapore and from Israel to South Africa, including LORT theatres like the Kennedy Center and the Berkeley Rep. He is a full voting member of both the Dramatists Guild and the Writers Guild of America. While in Hollywood, Mr. Downs wrote for such NBC sitcoms as MY TWO DADS (starring Paul Reiser), AMEN (starring Sherman Hemsley), and THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIRE (starring Will Smith). He also won the Jack Nicholson Award for screenwriting and sold the movie EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE to Tri-star.

After many years in Manhattan and Hollywood, Mr. Downs now enjoys living in the wide-open spaces of Wyoming. As head of the playwriting program at the University of Wyoming, Bill has won over a dozen teaching and research awards. He also teaches in the Religious Studies Department. His favorite thing to do is to find ancient temples and theatres - this quest has taken him to Egypt, France, Turkey, England, Greece, Italy, and China. Additionally, Mr. Downs is also the author of a number of books including: THE ART OF THEATRE (Wadsworth) an introduction to theatre book used at over 100 universities, NAKED PLAYWRIGHTING (Silman/James) a popular writing guide, and SCREENPLAY: WRITING THE PICTURE (Silman/James), which is used at top film schools in the United States and Poland. Samuel French and Playscripts have also published several of his plays.


John is pleased to return to SLAC following earlier productions of GOD OF CARNAGE, BATBOY, INCORRUPTIBLE and six versions of SATURDAY'S VOYEUR. John landed in SLC in 1987 from New York City for a one season residency at Pioneer Theatre Company. After 13 seasons with the company, John became Producing Artistic Director at Park City's Egyptian Theatre Company. Other Utah directing assignments include The Grand, Tuacahn,, Sundance Summer Theatre and Utah Musical Theatre. Favorite projects include BATBOY, THE MUSICAL RUTHLESS, THE MUSICAL, and of course, THE EXIT INTERVIEW. John is the Interim Executive Director of Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah. It is fairly clear that he prefers Utah to New York.

Anne Louise Brings, Darrin Doman, Andra Harbold, Tracie Merrill, Zack Phifer, Holly Fowers - Reader