The 38th annual William Inge Theater Festival
will honor playwright Octavio Solis 
May 22-25, 2019 

The William Inge Center for the Arts is pleased to announce playwright Octavio Solis will be the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Achievement in the American Theater Award for his outstanding contributions to the national theater landscape. Solis will be presented the award at the 38th annual William Inge Theater Festival, taking place from May 22-25, 2019 (the week leading into Memorial Day), at Independence Community College in Independence, Kansas. The Inge Festival is the Official Theatre Festival of the State of Kansas.

The 2019 Inge Festival schedule of events and ticket availablity can be found on the Festival and Tickets Page.

Solis will join a community of outstanding contemporary playwrights who have traveled to the picturesque town of Independence to receive the award. A list of just a few of the many distinguished, previous playwright honorees includes: Christopher Durang, Tina Howe, David Henry Hwang, Arthur Miller, Neil Simon, Stephen Sondheim, Paula Vogel, Wendy Wasserstein, and August Wilson.

Solis, who is also an actor and director, is known for his moving stories that resonate in the heart of the Latinx experience. His stories have deep cultural roots, woven with rich, poetic imagery, and laced with buried secrets. Solis' work bravely engages audiences through its culturally specific but universal themes. His prolific and meaningful commitment to the American theater has distinguished him as an important voice the William Inge Center is proud to recognize.

The William Inge Theater Festival, founded in 1981 at Independence Community College, is named for the Pulitzer Prize and Oscar-winning writer William Inge, a native of Independence, KS. It was founded to celebrate the work of living American playwrights and has become known as one of the preeminent festivals recognizing excellence in American theater. In 2010, the Kansas State Legislature designated it as the Official Theater Festival of the State of Kansas. Artists, luminaries, and theater-makers from around the world make the journey to the heartland of America for the annual four-day festival to celebrate the playwright honoree at various events, workshops, parties, and a culminating tribute to the honoree and their work.

“We are thrilled to recognize and celebrate Octavio Solis, one of our nation’s vital voices,” said Hannah Joyce-Hoven, Producing Director of the William Inge Center for the Arts.  “His work is deep and soulful, and he is a generous, curious, and kind person. I look forward to welcoming him to Kansas, where I believe audiences will see themselves honored and reflected in his stories.”

“Octavio Solis strikes a beautiful balance in writing from his head and his heart,” says Bill Rauch, Oregon Shakespeare Festival artistic director, which has produced many of Solis’ plays. “His work is smart and passionate.”

“Solis, like Arthur Miller, has an extraordinary ability to look with compassion into the hearts of his ordinary, flawed characters,” notes John Moore of the Denver Post.

In addition to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, his plays have been produced across the nation at theaters including Yale Rep, Denver Center, San Diego Rep, and Gala Hispanic Theatre of Washington D.C.  His newest play, Quixote Nuevo, was recently produced at the California Shakespeare Theatre. 

He is also active in film, most notably as a cultural consultant in the Disney Pixar film Coco, in which he also voiced the character of the “customs inspector”.  

Solis grew up in El Paso, Texas, just one mile from the Rio Grande River. He has written a memoir, Retablos: Stories from a Life Lived Along the Border, recounting the rituals and rites of passage of his youth, living literally and figuratively on the border. Retablos was released October 2018 by City Lights PublishersRetablos was just included in the "Best Reviewed Books of the Week" list by Literary Hub. And an interview with Octavio discussing the book was also featured on the PBS NewsHour

Solis has received numerous awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts Playwriting Fellowship, the Roger L. Stevens award from the Kennedy Center, the Will Glickman Playwright Award, a production grant from the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays, the TCG/NEA Theatre Artists in Residence Grant, the McKnight Fellowship grant from the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis, and the National Latino Playwriting Award for 2003.

He is also a Thornton Wilder Fellow for the MacDowell Colony, New Dramatists alum and member of the Dramatists Guild, among many other honors.

He has been a teacher of playwriting at the University of Texas, Stanford, St. Mary’s--California, and others, and has directed his shows at numerous theaters. 

His new anthology, “The River Plays” has been published by NoPassPort Publishing. He is working on commissions for the Magic Theatre of San Francisco and Yale Repertory Theatre.

Discover more about Octavio Solis in this recent interview with the PBS NewsHour.

Octavio Solis on PBS News Hour

Primary supporters of Inge Center artistic and educational programming include: the National Endowment for the Arts; the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission; the William Inge Festival Foundation; and Independence Community College.

Photo by: Susan Simmons

More About Octavio Solis:

Octavio Solis is a playwright and director whose works Alicia’s Miracle, Se Llama Cristina, John Steinbeck’s The Pastures of Heaven, Ghosts of the River, Quixote, Lydia, June in a Box, Lethe, Marfa Lights, Gibraltar, The Ballad of Pancho and Lucy, The 7 Visions of Encarnación, Bethlehem, Dreamlandia, El Otro, Man of the Flesh, Prospect, El Paso Blue, Santos & Santos, and La Posada Mágica have been mounted at the California Shakespeare Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Yale Repertory Theatre, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, the Dallas Theater Center, the Magic Theatre, Intersection for the Arts, South Coast Repertory Theatre, the San Diego Repertory Theatre, the San Jose Repertory Theatre, Shadowlight Productions, the Venture Theatre in Philadelphia, Latino Chicago Theatre Company, Boston Court and Kitchen Dog Theatre, the New York Summer Play Festival, Teatro Vista in Chicago, El Teatro Campesino, the Undermain Theatre in Dallas, Thick Description, Campo Santo, the Imua Theatre Company in New York, and Cornerstone Theatre.

His collaborative works include Cloudlands, with Music by Adam Gwon, Burning Dreams, co-written with Julie Hebert and Gina Leishman and Shiner, written with Erik Ehn.

The William Inge Theater Festival New Play Lab is supported in part by the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

 The William Inge Center for the Arts is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Arts Works.

 The William Inge Center for the Arts is a constituent member of Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the American Theatre.