Inge Blog

Thursday
Jul052012

High Schools from around the state converging at the 24-Hour Plays Sept. 15

Adventurous students from as far as Wichita and Topeka will converge on Independence Community College for the William Inge Center for the Arts 10th Annual High School 24 Hour Plays, with the performance set for 8 p.m. Saturday Sept. 15.

Students from Highland Park High School in Topeka, and Collegiate and Independent high schools in Wichita, join those from Southeast Kansas to write and produce six short original plays in just one day’s time.  To date, additional participating schools include Wellington, Neodesha, Labette County, and Independence, with others likely to confirm.

In 2011, Jesuit High School of New Orleans set a record for the longest trek to the High School 24 Hour Plays, bringing four students.  It was a “scouting mission” for Jesuit, to see how the event works, because this fall they host the first-ever High School 24 Hour Plays in Louisiana.

“The High School 24 Hour Plays are an intense academic, as well as artistic, challenge,” said Peter Ellenstein, Inge Center artistic director.  “It is not at all surprising that one of the most respected prep schools in that state wants to host their own 24 Hour Plays.”

At the High School 24 Hour Plays, there is no inter-school competition; rather, students from different schools are deliberately placed together to work with one another.

Despite its title, no one person actually stays up the entire 24 hours to pull together the six short plays.  However, there is one specific performance time for the public to view the results: that is 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, for about an 80-minute performance.

Tickets are $5 for adults, $2 for students and available at the door at the William Inge Theatre at Independence Community College.

This event is presented in collaboration with the original 24-Hour Plays Company. Since it was created in 1995 by Christina Fallon, the 24-Hour Company has produced more than 300 new short plays. Audiences have enjoyed these fresh productions in cities, colleges and high schools all over the country. One high-profile event, a benefit for New York City schools, takes place on Broadway and features star actors.

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

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

Tuesday
Jul032012

Inge Center Broadway-Bound Tour Will See "Picnic" Revival

(To reserve, contact the Inge Center at (620) 332-5492 or (800) 842-6063 ext. 5835)

No Broadway revival of William Inge’s “Picnic” should ever open without a cheering horde of folk from Inge’s hometown.  So, from January 9 through 14, 2013, the William Inge Center of the Arts at Independence Community College leads an “Inge Center on Broadway New York Theatre Trip” to take in the Opening Night of the newest revival of “Picnic.”  Also, the first 20 people to sign up will get to attend the official Opening Night Party— a rare opportunity even for those “in the business.”

Discounted “early bird” registration is underway, offering even greater value for theater lovers.  The trip includes round-trip airfare from Tulsa, Okla.; five nights lodging at a deluxe Theater District hotel; prime tickets to three Broadway shows, including the opening week of “Picnic;” two lunches at premier restaurants with guest artists; admission for the tour group visit to the Guggenheim Museum; trip-protection insurance; plus airport transfers, one checked bag and baggage handling fees and tips.

“Some of the best memories of our previous theater trips to New York have been at private back-stage tours, post-show discussions, or visits with the numerous guest artists who have appeared at Independence during the Inge Festival,” said Peter Ellenstein, artistic director of the Inge Festival.  “These are experiences arranged by the Inge Center that only members of theater tours enjoy. And this year, our guests will experience something only real Insiders usually get: a Broadway opening night.”

“This trip will be five nights and six days, longer than the previous Inge on Broadway theater tours, which allows the group to do more sight-seeing and enjoy many artistic activities,” said Ellenstein.  “And, of course, we will attend first-rate theater, including the Tony-Winning “War Horse,” the musical “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” and this long-anticipated revival of ‘Picnic,’ ” he said.  

Only the first 20 people to sign up are guaranteed tickets to the Opening Night Performance and Party.

The cost is $ 2,150.00 per person double occupancy.  There is an “early bird” special of a $150 discount per person with a $500.00 non-refundable deposit by September 14. 

“The Inge Center has many friends in New York who have visited Independence over the years, and these friends are great hosts when our tour groups visit,” said Ellenstein.  “We never know until closer to our trip who might show up.  In the past we’ve had Broadway stars, movie stars, Tony-winners, and many of America’s best playwrights join us for lunch or for private meetings with us after a show.  Each year has brought its own unique experiences and memories.” 

To reserve, contact the Inge Center at (620) 332-5492 or (800) 842-6063 ext. 5835.

More details regarding tour group activities will be announced as they are finalized.

The Inge Festival and Inge Center are sponsored by Independence Community College, William Inge’s alma mater.  The William Inge Center for the Arts is a constituent member of Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the American theatre.

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 Independence Community College and the William Inge Festival Foundation.

The Inge Festival's setting is the quaint small town of Independence, located in rural southeast Kansas. It is 90 miles north of Tulsa, Okla., and 140 miles south of Kansas City, Mo.

The Inge Center is best known for its annual William Inge Theatre Festival, which celebrates its 32nd year May 1-4, 2013.  The Inge Festival features workshops with theatre veterans, professional performances, and special events.  The centerpiece of the 2013 Inge Festival is a Tribute to the achievements of William Inge himself, on the occasion of the year of his 100th birthday.

Tickets for the 32nd Annual William Inge Theatre Festival go on sale online in the spring of 2013. For further information, visit www.ingecenter.org or call (800) 842-6063 ext. 5492.

Major supporters of the William Inge Center for the Arts are the National Endowment for the Arts, William Inge Festival Foundation, Independence Chamber of Commerce and Independence Community College.

The Inge Center is named for the late Pulitzer Prize (“Picnic”) and Oscar winning (“Splendor in the Grass”) writer William Inge, a native of Independence.

Monday
Jul022012

2013 Inge Festival Celebrates Inge on His 100th Birthday

The William Inge Theatre Festival has a long rich history of honoring great living playwrights, acknowledging these too-often underappreciated creative heroes of the stage. But the 32nd annual Inge Festival in 2013 changes pace: honoring its namesake American icon William Inge, to celebrate the centennial of his birth. 

The William Inge Theatre Festival at Independence Community College takes place May 1-4 of 2013, in Inge’s rural hometown of Independence, Kansas, where, annually, Broadway and Hollywood artists meet on the prairie to mingle with visitors from more than 24 states.

Over the years, internationally renowned dramatists including Arthur Miller, Neil Simon, Stephen Sondheim, August Wilson and Wendy Wasserstein journeyed to Independence. But in 2013, focus is on Pulitzer Prize and Oscar-winning William Motter Inge, born May 3, 1913.  His gravesite in this town of 9,000 is simply marked “William Inge: Playwright,” a modest designation for one of the America’s most soul-searching dramatists, whose work enlightened several generations.

“The nation is reconnecting with the tremendous depth of William Inge’s work, and recognizing the legacy of his great drama,” said Peter Ellenstein, artistic director of the Inge Center.  “The 100th anniversary of his birth marks a perfect occasion to celebrate the Midwest’s first authentic voice for the stage.  It’s a testament to his timeless genius for understanding human frailty that his plays are resonating with audiences sixty years later.”

“The opening of a revival of ‘Picnic’ on Broadway in January 2013 makes two Broadway revivals of Inge works in four years,” he noted. “There is a resurgence of appreciation in his empathetic characters, as they strive to deal with the difficulties of their lives.  It’s been more than sixty years since the opening of his first Broadway hit, ‘Come Back, Little Sheba,’ and his characters are just and real and alive for a modern audience.”

Inge remains the only American dramatist to score four consecutive Broadway hits, with “Sheba” (1950), “Picnic” (1953), “Bus Stop” (1955) and “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs” (1957) tumbling forth as critical and commercial successes.    Each was turned into a major Hollywood film with the biggest stars of the era.

 Inge also wrote for film and television, most famously winning the Oscar for best screenplay for “Splendor in the Grass” (1961), which starred Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty.

“The wonderful playwright Jerome Lawrence [“Inherit the Wind,” “Auntie Mame”] was a friend of William Inge, and when Inge Festival founder Margaret Goheen, Theatre Instructor at Independence Community College, was looking to start a festival in William Inge’s name, it was Mr. Lawrence who suggested honoring a living playwright,” said Ellenstein.  “Mr. Lawrence believed that Inge himself, who battled depression, would have been heartened and encouraged if a festival had celebrated his achievements when he was alive.”

The first Inge Festival was in 1981, eight years after Inge’s death, and celebrated Inge’s exemplary plays.  In the next year, Jerome Lawrence traveled to Independence Community College in Independence, Kansas, to accept the initial William Inge Theatre Festival Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award.

The roll call of Honorees since includes virtually every internationally acclaimed stage writer in the nation.

“Part of what makes the Inge Festival so one-of-a-kind is that all our Honorees travel to this rural small town of Independence,” said Ellenstein.  “Upon arrival, our Honorees experience some ‘culture shock,’ but they are quickly won over.  All our out-of-town guests remark that the hometown hospitality and small-town setting is what they find so incomparable.”

“Hundreds of local residents volunteer year-round in the planning and execution of the Inge Festival,” Ellenstein said. “It wouldn’t be possible for a small town to throw such an amazing event if it weren’t for the volunteers.”

Though the Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award won’t be presented in the coming year, the Inge Festival will retain many of its well-known traditions.  “We shall still present the Otis Guernsey New Voices in the American Theatre Award,” said Ellenstein.  “This award was created to salute the up and coming playwrights who become some of our stage’s brightest lights.  For over 20 years, the Inge Festival’s Otis Guernsey New Voices winners have graced our festival audiences with first looks at outstanding work that ends up in major theatres around the country and often on Broadway.”

The peer-nominated and peer-selected award is named after the late theater scholar and critic Otis L. Guernsey, a champion of new scripts and a frequent guest at the Inge Festival.  A play by the New Voices winner takes places Thursday night of the Inge Festival, on May 2.

On Friday, May 3, professional performers from across the nation join in the Gala Dinner, which naturally serves as the official “100th Birthday Party” for William Inge.  The event is a fund-raiser for continuing renovation and maintenance of the historic William Inge Boyhood Home, which serves Independence Community College and the community as a year-round artist retreat.

The house, with its expansive front porch and early 20th century architecture, is the obvious inspiration for many of William Inge’s plays such as “Picnic” and “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs”.

The 2013 Inge Festival, which opens on Wednesday, May 1 with a program to be announced, concludes on Saturday, May 4, with a tribute to William Inge’s rich career for film, television, and the stage featuring performances by many of America’s leading actors. 

In addition to evening performances by professionals from Broadway and Hollywood, Inge Festival patrons enjoy workshops, panel discussions, a scholars' conference and numerous social events throughout the day.

The Inge Festival and Inge Center are sponsored by Independence Community College, William Inge’s alma mater.  The William Inge Center for the Arts is a constituent member of Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the American theatre.

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 Independence Community College and the William Inge Festival Foundation.

The Inge Festival's setting is the quaint small town of Independence, located in rural southeast Kansas. It is 90 miles north of Tulsa, Okla., and 140 miles south of Kansas City, Mo.

Independence Community College is also home to the William Inge Collection, which includes correspondence, original artwork, and some 400 of his original scripts, as well as Inge's personal library and record collections. It also houses a number of Inge manuscripts that have never been published.

In 2012, the Inge Festival presented the first public performance of one of the unpublished manuscripts, titled “Off the Main Road.”  In 2009, six of Inge’s unpublished plays from the Inge Collection were publicly performed for the first time, five at the Inge Festival and one world premiere in New York.

The Inge Collection at Independence Community College is the most extensive collection on William Inge in existence, and remains a valuable resource for both theater researchers and admirers of the playwright.

Thanks primarily to the work of longtime Tribute creator Mike Wood of Wichita State University, the Inge Center has amassed a vast collection of video interviews of America's leading playwrights, composers, actors, directors, producers and other theatre professionals, gathered over the last three decades. A sampling of playwright interviews is available on the website www.ingefestival.org.  The rest of the video collection is in the process of being digitally preserved for future generations.

Tickets for the 32nd Annual William Inge Theatre Festival go on sale online in the spring of 2013. For further information, visit www.ingecenter.org or call (800) 842-6063 ext. 5492.

Tuesday
May012012

Independence Community College Music Dept. in Concert

The Independence Community College Music Department will present a Spring Concert Wednesday, May 2nd, on the stage of the William Inge Theatre. The free event will begin at 7:30 p.m. and the community is encouraged to attend. 

Under the direction of Professor Eric Rutherford, the ICC students will perform choral selections that display the skills of the College's Chorale and Chamber Singers and the talents of several students will be highlighted.

Professor Rutherford has also announced that the ICC Solo Voice and Piano Recital is scheduled for Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. in the Inge Theatre. This special presentation features the students who have been taking voice and piano lessons at ICC and will mark their progress and expertise. 

In addition, the ICC Chorale will join the Independence High School Choir at their spring performance on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. in the Independence High School Performing Arts Center. The two choral groups will unite to present their rendition of “The Awakening”. 

For more information about the concerts or the music programs at ICC, contact Professor Rutherford at erutherford@indycc.edu or call (620) 332-5436.

Friday
Apr062012

Cast of “New” William Inge Play Preview Announced

Director Michael Wilson, straight from the Broadway opening of “The Best Man”, has announced a cast of New York veterans and major regional performers for the preview presentation of a “new” William Inge play on April 18. 

Wilson helms “Off the Main Road” on Wednesday, April 18, at 7:30 p.m., in the William Inge Theatre. The Inge work will be the opening night event of the 31st Annual William Inge Theatre Festival at the playwright’s alma mater Independence Community College. 

This domestic drama is set in the early 1960s and features strong and intriguing roles for women, as customary in the manner of Inge’s most famous plays. 

Annalee Jefferies stars as Mrs. Faye Garrit, an elegant woman desperate in a crumbling marriage.  Faye escapes to a rustic Missouri resort, accompanied by her withdrawn daughter, Julia (Nicole Lowrance) and disapproving mother (Barbara Dana.) 

Julia also faces a major life decision, complicated by meeting the ambitious young man Victor (Asa Walker).  They join with the resort’s landlady (Cynthia Hyer) to help Faye confront her abusive spouse Manny Garrit (Robert Clohessy), and his rival Gino (Joseph Gomez). 

Annalee Jeffries played 17 seasons with the prestigious Alley Theatre in Houston  This included the leads in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” the title role in "Hedda Gabler" and Nurse Ratched in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"  In addition, she has performed in numerous productions across the nation and abroad, including Arena Stage, Playwrights Horizons, and Hartford Stage. 

Robert Clohessy comes to the Inge Festival with several Broadway credits, including “Pal Joey” and “12 Angry Men”, and numerous regional stage appearances.  On television, he currently has recurring roles on “Bluebloods” and “Boardwalk Empire”. He was a regular on “Hill Street Blues,” “O’Hara,” and “Oz” along with guest starring on 50 other shows and pilots. 

Barbara Dana has performed in many Broadway productions including the 1966 production of William Inge’s “Where’s Daddy?”.  She has numerous stage and television credits.  Barbara, also a published playwright and author, is currently playing Emily Dickinson in William Luce’s “The Belle of Amherst” touring the United States and Canada. 

Nicole Lowrance’s Broadway credits include “Dividing the Estate” and international credits in “The Merchant of Venice” at the Royal Shakespeare Company.  In addition to appearances at major theaters across the nation, Lowrance has appeared on television, including “Guiding Light,” “Whoopi” and “Law & Order.” 

Active Kansas City-based actress Cynthia Hyer has appeared in numerous professional productions throughout the region, most recently “Hanky Panky” as part of the Midwest International Theatre Festival.  This is her fourth appearance as an actor at the Inge Festival. 

Tulsa-based actor Joseph Gomez is a frequent performer at readings for the William Inge Center for the Arts, one of which led him Off-Broadway where he originated the role of Rodney in “That Pretty, Pretty, Or, The Rape Play” at the Rattlestick.  He has appeared in major roles at Arkansas Rep and St. Louis Rep, among others. 

Asa Walker is a sophomore theater student at Independence Community College, Independence.  He has acted in play development readings for William Inge Center for the Arts professional playwrights in residence, as well as a number of college productions. 

Additional cast members include Independence-based actor Dean Hayse and Independence Community College student Jonathan Clothier, as police officers.  The actor in an additional role of Faye’s friend Jimmy Woodford is yet to be announced. 

Director Michael Wilson is one of the stage’s most respected directors. Three plays he helmed have been nominated for a Tony Award for the best play of that season.  Sought after across the country, he is praised for his work as long-time artistic director of the Hartford Stage. 

The story “Off the Main Road” was seen in once as “Out on the Outskirts of Town” in a 1964 teleplay in broadcast of Bob Hope’s Chrysler Theater. 

After “Off the Main Road” on April 18, the Inge Festival presents a reading of a new play by Catherine Trieschmann, titled “The Most Deserving.”  Trieschmann is the winner of the Inge Festival’s Otis Guernsey New Voices in the American Theatre Award.  On Friday April 20, the focus switches to music at the Gala Dinner, when professionals give renditions of songs from works by David Henry Hwang and Arthur Laurents. 

The Inge Festival culminates on April 21 with a multi-media tribute to the works of David Henry Hwang, featuring numerous Broadway stars. 

During the daytime, festival visitors will enjoy workshops and master classes with the visiting guest artists. 

Tickets are available online at www.ingecenter.org, or Monday through Friday from 1:00-5:00 p.m. in Room 123 of the Fine Arts Building at ICC.  The ticket office number is (620) 332-5491. 

Major supporters of the William Inge Center for the Arts are Independence Community College, and the William Inge Festival Foundation. 

The William Inge Center for the Arts is a participant in the New Generations Program, funded by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation/The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the American theatre. 

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

For more detailed bios of the guest artists, click here.

 

 “Off the Main Road”

By William Inge

31st Annual William Inge Theatre Festival
Concert Reading Wednesday, April 18, 2012
7:30 p.m., William Inge Theatre
Independence Community College
Independence, Kansas

Stage Directions: Jackie Webb, Independence Community College theater student

Assistant Director/Stage Manager: Hannah Brooks

Production/Light/Sound Design: Harty Blackert

Costume Design: Doug Spesert

Production Manager:   Ben Cobb