Agnes Wilcox

Agnes Wilcox, founder and former artistic director of Prison Performing Arts in St. Louis, directed plays and taught poetry in the Missouri prison system for over twenty years. She produced and directed plays by Shakespeare, ancient and modern classics, and actor-devised plays. In 2012, Agnes inaugurated a new program with men about to be released from prison. Going Home engages inmates in productions they create and perform, in which the actors examine their hopes and fears about returning to society Agnes developed and directed two museum-theatre projects for the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis, "Staging Old Masters" in 2010 and "Staging Reflections of the Buddha" in 2012. Those productions involved former prison inmates and homeless veterans as creators and performers of a series of scenes examining the artwork in one of the museum’s exhibitions.

For 13 years, Agnes was artistic director of The New Theatre in St. Louis, directing and producing contemporary plays. She has been a member of three actors’ unions, Equity, SAG, and AFTRA. Agnes holds a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an M.A. in English from Vanderbilt University, and an M.F.A. in Theatre Directing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has taught at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center (Connecticut), NYU, Webster University and Washington University in St. Louis. As a writer, she has contributed to a collection, "Performing New Lives: Prison Theatre" (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London, 2011) and various academic journals. She has been honored with a Missouri Arts Award, St. Louis Arts Award, St. Louis Visionary Award, YWCA Woman of Achievement Award, and the Missouri Director of Corrections’ Medal for Excellence. Agnes is best known for her production of "Hamlet" (2000-2002) with inmates at a high-security, Missouri prison, a performance featured in the episode “Act V” on NPR's "This American Life” with Ira Glass. Warner Brothers has developed a film script based on the NPR documentary, written by Suzan-Lori Parks. Agnes is currently working with Bread & Roses, an organization devoted to involving union members in the performing arts. For Bread & Roses, in 2016, she developed and directed "A Workers’ Opera," exploring the history of organized labor in St. Louis. When she is not directing or acting, Agnes is working on a young-adult novel about her prison experience.

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