William Missouri Downs holds an M.F.A. in acting from the University of Illinois and an M.F.A. in screenwriting from U.C.L.A.
He was trained in playwriting by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson, in screenwriting by Oscar-winning screenwriter Stirling Silliphant, and in directing by Oscar-nominated director Jerzy Antczak. Bill also spent several years studying playwriting at The Circle Rep Theatre in New York City and was the co-artistic director of the Circle Rep West in Los Angeles.
Bill has authored twenty plays that have been seen at theaters across the country and abroad, including the Kennedy Center, The Detroit Rep, The Wisdom Bridge Theatre, The Durban Performing Arts Center (South Africa), Performance Network, The Berkeley Rep, and The stadt Theater walfischgasse (Vienna). In addition, Samuel French and Playscripts have published several of his plays.
He has also won numerous writing awards, including the Larry Corse Prize for playwriting, the Mill Mountain Theatre's Festival Of New Plays, The Greenhouse Festival Of New Plays, The National Playwright’s Award, and the Jack Nicholson Award for screenwriting. In addition he was a member of the Playwright’s Unit at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
Bill has co-authored four books: Naked Playwriting (Silman/James), Playwriting: From Formula To Form (Harcourt), Screenplay: Writing The Picture (Silman/James) and The Art of Theatre (Wadsworth). In Hollywood, Bill started as a script secretary on NBC’s Moonlighting (Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd), and worked his way up to staff writer on the NBC sitcom My Two Dads (Paul Reiser). He also wrote episodes of Amen (Sherman Hemsley) and Fresh Prince Of Bel Air (Will Smith). In addition he sold a movie to Ron Howard’s Imagine Films and optioned another to Filmways. He is a member of The Writers Guild (WGA).
As a director/dramaturg/playwright, Bill has helped take five productions to the regional American College Theatre Festival and one to the National American College Theatre Festival at the Kennedy Center.
A full professor at the University of Wyoming, Bill is Head of Playwriting and Play Development. He has won eighteen teaching and research awards as well as the Governor's Art’s Award. His favorite thing to do is to find ancient theatres - this quest has taken him to Egypt, France, England, Greece, Turkey, Hungry, Austria, Slovakia, Italy and China.