Friday
Oct122012

“The Benders” Murders Subject of new play at Inge Center

On the Kansas frontier of the early 1870s, the Bender family committed mass murders—which is the unusual setting for a play-in-progress, coming to the William Inge Center for the Arts at Independence Community College.

Actors from New York and Los Angeles join regionally based actors for a public reading of this developmental script titled “The Benders” on Saturday, Nov. 3, 7:30 p.m. at the William Inge Theatre in Independence, Kansas.

“The Benders” will be preceded by a second play development reading, of a new musical, titled “My Dark and Scurvy Heart.”  This adult comedy, by current Inge House playwright-in-residence Adam Szymkowicz, composer Dan Moses Schreier and lyricist Matt Sherwin, performs at 2 p.m. Sat., Nov. 3.  The Inge Center is one of America’ leading rural arts centers and has produced nearly 50 professional new play development workshops since 2002. 

Anne Phelan is the author of “The Benders,” and returns to Independence for her second Inge House residency. It was during her first residency that Phelan came across the story of “The Bloody Benders.”

Their murders were America’s first mass-media serial killer story.  In 1871, the national press converged on the Bender family’s small inn, about 20 miles from Independence, to chronicle the resulting manhunt and trials. The Benders murdered at least a dozen innocent travelers, burying their victims in an orchard.

Brooklyn-based playwright Anne Phelan is a two-time Edward F. Albee Foundation Fellow and former member of The Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Workshop.  She has been a Guest Artist at The Juilliard School, in the Play Lab at the Last Frontier Theatre Conference, and Playwright-in-Residence at the William Inge Theatre Festival.

A Trinity Rep Conservatory graduate, her plays have been produced in New York City, and throughout the U.S. Three ten-minute plays of hers are published by Smith & Kraus. Phelan is a member of the Dramatists Guild, American PEN and the League of Professional Theatre Women.  www.annephelan.com

Admission is free to both readings, each of which is followed by a talkback with the playwright and creative team.

The goal of the Inge House Playwrights-in-Residence program is to advance the creation of new dramatic literature for the future of American theater, by supporting exceptional playwrights. The playwrights are able to tap ideas and expertise of the professional directors and actors, who offer insight as to shaping the scripts’ character.  It has already generated a treasure trove of engrossing contemporary plays.

The playwrights will be joined by a remarkable creative team of directors and actors, who will offer the playwrights their expertise throughout the development process and offer workshops to ICC and area high school theatre students.

The William Inge Center for the Arts is best known as sponsor of the annual William Inge Theatre Festival, which is the Official Theatre Festival of the State of Kansas.  The 32nd annual Inge Festival takes place May 1-4, 2013, and celebrates William Inge on the 100th anniversary of his birth. 

This program is presented in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, which believes a great nation deserves great art.

Further major supporters of the William Inge Center for the Arts include the William Inge Festival Foundation, the Independence Chamber of Commerce, and Independence Community College.

For further information on Inge Center activities, visit www.ingecenter.org.

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