Inge Blog

Thursday
Apr052012

ICC Sophomore to work with Broadway Director

Broadway director Michael Wilson, who just opened a show with James Earl Jones, Eric McCormick, Candice Bergen, John Larroquette, and Angela Lansbury, will next direct Mound Valley native and Independence Community College sophomore Asa Walker in a featured role at ICC. 

Asa Walker will be part of a cast of eight professional actors directed by Wilson in William Inge’s “Off the Main Road,” which opens the 31st Annual William Inge Theatre Festival on Wednesday, April 18.  Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. at the William Inge Theatre at Independence Community College.  Tickets are available online at www.ingecenter.org, or call (620) 332-5491.

Michael Wilson is one of America’s most respected stage directors.  He has directed three plays that won Tony Awards for Best Play of the season.  In 2010, Wilson won the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for his direction of Horton Foote’s three-part, nine hour epic “The Orphan’s Home Cycle.”  Wilson has directed at major theaters around the country, including the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, the Goodman in Chicago, and Hartford Stage in Connecticut.

“I am highly pleased that Asa will have the opportunity to work with one of the country’s leading directors and many professional actors,” said Peter Ellenstein, artistic director of the William Inge Center for the Arts.  “Every stage actor, whether aspiring or a star, yearns to have chances like this,” Ellenstein said.

“This is a prime example of how theater students at ICC have the best of both worlds,” he said.  “An intimate campus to enjoy quality training to hone theatrical skills, but also with the incredible advantage to tap the expertise of working guest artists who visit the Inge Center and the chance to create a professional network while in school.  It is unlike any other two-year program in the country,” Ellenstein said 

“Off the Main Road” is a ‘lost’ play by William Inge, who is the writer native to Independence and won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama.  The only previous public showing of “Off the Main Road” was in 1964, as a teleplay on the Bob Hope Chrysler Theater television show. 

Walker will portray Victor, an ambitious young man who works at a run-down resort.  Victor becomes smitten with one of the guests, the daughter of a sophisticated lady, and becomes entangled in the family’s difficulties.

It is a busy semester of acting for Walker, a graduate of Labette County High School.  He is currently rehearsing the ICC Theatre Department production of “The Nerd,” under the direction of Professor Jon Sidoli. The comedy runs April 12-15 on the Inge stage. Tickets will be available each night before the 7:30 p.m. performance, April 12-14, and on Sunday, April 15, before the 2:30 matinee. 

Immediately after closing “The Nerd”, Walker goes straight into “Off the Main Road” rehearsals.  “Off the Main Road” will be a concert reading.

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.  Tony-winning writer David Henry Hwang is in attendance all four days, April 18-21, and will receive the William Inge Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award.

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.  

The Inge Festival culminates on April 21 with an amazing multi-media tribute to the works of the 2012 honoree, playwright David Henry Hwang. 

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. 

Wednesday
Mar282012

“New” William Inge Play to Preview at Inge Festival

Stage plays customarily undergo long periods of development—though not as long as a half century.  Yet such is the case for the opening presentation at the 31st annual William Inge Theatre Festival in Independence, Kansas. 

On April 18, 2012, at long last, a play completed in the early 1960s by the late William Inge will resonate on stage during a sneak preview of Inge’s “new” domestic drama “Off the Main Road,” presented in special arrangement with the Manhattan Theatre Club. 

A remarkable professional cast will perform this concert reading of “Off the Main Road,” which opens the 31st annual Inge Festival, sponsored by Independence Community College, in Independence, Kansas. 

The creative team for “Off the Main Road” befits the stature of Inge, a Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award-winning writer, Michael Wilson, who enjoyed four consecutive Broadway hits.  He will travel to rural Kansas to helm the presentation after directing the April 1 Broadway opening of Gore Vidal’s “The Best Man”.  Full casting for “Off the Main Road” will be announced shortly. 

The William Inge Theatre Festival runs April 18-21; it celebrates great American playwrights and welcomes David Henry Hwang as the 2012 Honoree. 

As if to make up for lost time from its dormancy, “Off the Main Road” is quickly generating lots of buzz. The Manhattan Theatre Club – one of the country’s most acclaimed theatre organizations, has an option to mount a world premiere Broadway production. 

Inge’s exciting tale has had a fascinating journey; Inge adapted his play into a screenplay for a 1964 one-time live television broadcast of “Bob Hope’s Chrysler Theater.”  That broadcast was titled “Out on the Outskirts of Town” and starred Anne Bancroft and Jack Warden. 

The play itself wasn’t produced or published at the time, and as Inge’s work fell out of fashion in the mid-1960s, the script was forgotten.  After Inge’s passing in 1973, “Off the Main Road”—along with two dozen more of Inge’s unpublished manuscripts—came to rest at The William Inge Collection at Independence Community College.  The manuscripts lied preserved and virtually undisturbed at Inge’s alma mater in his hometown in southeast Kansas until 2008. 

In 2008 “we approached the Inge family and literary agency about taking another good look at some of the works here in the Inge Collection that are of tremendous quality,” said Inge Center Artistic Director Peter Ellenstein.  “The family agreed that it was a great time to revisit these ‘lost’ works.  It was a marvelous opportunity to share these hidden treasures with the public and add to Inge’s theatrical canon.” 

This decision led to the uncovering of a number of Inge’s previously unpublished works.  In 2009, the Inge Festival produced several short plays by Inge, which ranged from deep psychological drama to laugh-out-loud farce.  The plays are published by Independence Community College Press, in association with On Stage Press, a division of Samuel French, Inc., under the title “A Complex Evening: Six Short Plays by William Inge.” 

In 2010, “The Killing,” another one-act from the Inge Collection, was produced Off-Broadway at the Summer Shorts festival in New York City, a performance that received strong reviews. 

And now, several decades since its nationwide broadcast, new audiences can experience the searing domestic drama, “Off the Main Road,” on April 18, at the Inge Festival. 

Inge is known for his deeply drawn female characters, and “Off the Main Road” is no exception.  The setting is the early 1960s in Missouri.  The elegant Faye Garrit checks into a run-down resort to hide from her abusive husband Manny, a washed-up former professional baseball player.  Faye’s mother is among those urging her to sever the marriage; meanwhile, Faye’s daughter is exploring her spiritual and emotional needs as well. 

“Off the Main Road” is a story about passion, empathy, forgiveness, and how far one pursues their personal liberty at the expense of hurting others. 

The William Inge Collection at Independence Community College was established in 1965 with a modest collection of clippings and memorabilia.  It grew in stature four years later when Inge donated personal copies of the manuscripts for “Come Back, Little Sheba,” “Picnic,” “Natural Affection,” and “Splendor in the Grass.”

After Inge’s death in 1973, the playwright’s elder sister, Helene Inge Connell, donated Inge’s manuscripts, playbills, and correspondence, as well as his book collection and other personal effects. 

More than 400 manuscripts, straight from Inge’s typewriter, are the heart of the Inge Collection. Various versions of all the Broadway plays are there, along with versions of one-act plays that have either been produced or published, as well as screenplays, versions of Inge’s novels, and some unpublished short stories.

These, along with more items from Inge’s family, friends, and literary agency, have positioned the William Inge Collection as the most extensive collection on William Inge in existence. 

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.  Tony-winning writer David Henry Hwang will be in attendance all four days of the festival, April 18-21, and will receive the Inge Festival’s Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award. 

After “Off the Main Road” on April 18, the Inge Festival will present 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. 

The Inge Festival will conclude April 21 with a multi-media tribute to the works of David Henry Hwang. 

Tickets are available online at www.ingecenter.org, or call (800) 842-6063 ext. 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 Dramatists Guild Fund, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, which believes a great nation deserves great art. 

Photo Credit: The William Inge Collection

 

Thursday
Mar082012

Kelley Hunt to give Greensburg Concert March 12th

Renowned Kansas artist, singer and song writer Kelley Hunt will be performing in a free Mini-Concert Monday, March 12th, at 7:00 p.m. in the First United Methodist Church of Greensburg.  The concert is being presented by the William Inge Center for the Arts and Cornerstone Theater Company and is designed to introduce the musical side Marcia Cebulska’s new play ROOTED The Greensburg Odyssey.

Join us for the free mini-concert, meet Marcia Cebulska, playwright, Kelley Hunt, musical director, and learn more about the upcoming March 23-24 auditions for a community production of ROOTED: The Greensburg Odyssey.

ROOTED will be presented for the first time as an orchestrated reading in May as part of the five-year anniversary observance of the 2007 tornado. A complete production of the play is tentatively planned for 2013 upon the completion of the Twilight Theater.

Auditions for ROOTED will be held in Greensburg on Friday, March 23, and Saturday, March 24. All interested community members are encouraged to audition and/or participate in the telling of this important community story.

Wednesday
Mar072012

Inge Festival performers busy with new gigs

Susan Watson stars in “The Show Goes On,” at the York Theatre in NYC. Special showings are March 16 through 18.  Susan, fresh from the Broadway revival of “Follies,” sings music from Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt (our 2006 Inge Festival Honorees).  We recall Susan treating us with renditions of Jones and Schmidt songs while in Independence, so we know it will be fabulous.

Burke Moses was our guest at the Inge Festival in 2011 and was featured in a new musical by Tom Jones.  He will star in the lead of “The Music Man” at Arena Stage in Washington DC.  The show runs May 11-July 22, so if you are in our Nation’s capital during those dates, don't miss it!

Wednesday
Mar072012

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt to Preside over Gala Dinner

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt appropriately plays master of ceremonies for the Gala Dinner at the William Inge Theatre Festival, which he led Kansas legislature to proclaim as the Official Theatre Festival of the State of Kansas. 

Schmidt will preside over an evening of outstanding musical theater performances and celebration on Friday, April 20.  The Gala Dinner will be at the Independence Civic Center, with cocktails at 6:00 p.m., dinner at 7:00 p.m., and followed by musical entertainment from Broadway performers. 

Tickets are $45, which includes cocktails, meal and entertainment, and must be reserved by Friday, April 6. 

As state senator in 2009, Schmidt sponsored SB1 with Rep. Jeff King, which led the legislature to issue the proclamation naming the William Inge Theatre Festival the Official State Theatre Festival of Kansas.  “We are very grateful to Attorney General Schmidt for spearheading this designation,” said Georgia High, William Inge Festival Foundation president.  “The proclamation acknowledges that, for the past three decades, Independence Community College and the community-at-large have chosen to support this distinctive event, not duplicated anywhere in Kansas or the nation.” she said. 

Attorney General Derek Schmidt was elected the 44th attorney general of Kansas and took office January 10, 2011.  Before being elected attorney general, Schmidt served 10 years as a Kansas State Senator representing the 15th district in Southeast Kansas. During his last six years in the Senate, he served as majority leader for the Republican Caucus. 

Schmidt also worked in private practice with the Independence law firm Emert, Chubb and Gettler. He is a graduate of Independence High School and studied at Independence Community College. He earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas, his master's degree in international politics from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, and his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. 

Schmidt was honored with the Friend of Law Enforcement Award from the Kansas Sheriffs Association. His work is also recognized with a Guardian of Small Business Award from the Kansas chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business. 

He and his wife, Jennifer, are the parents of two young daughters. 

The Gala Dinner features Broadway and professional performers in full song.  This year’s Gala Dinner musical entertainment will be directed by Luke Yankee, Los Angeles-based director and long-time friend of the Inge Festival.  The Musical Director is renowned musician Paul Baker, who joins the Inge Festival for the 10th time. 

Another highlight will be the presentation of the Jerome Lawrence Award to actress Elizabeth Wilson; she was an actress in both the original stage production and film versions of William Inge’s “Picnic,” and is a Tony-winning actor and member of the Theatre Hall of Fame.  At 90, she is still working, and plays Sara Delano Roosevelt in an upcoming feature film starring Bill Murray as F.D.R. 

The Jerome Lawrence Award salutes outstanding contribution to the Inge Festival and the American theater.  It is named for the late playwright Jerome Lawrence, author of “Inherit the Wind” and “Auntie Mame,” who was a tireless booster of the William Inge Theatre Festival. 

Tickets for the Gala Dinner and all Inge Festival events can be reserved online at www.ingefestival.org; by calling the Inge Festival box office at (620) 332-5491; or visiting Independence Community College, Fine Arts Building Room 123, from 1-5 p.m. weekdays.