Nobody is bored when he is trying to make something that is beautiful, or to discover something that is true. ~William Inge

Emerging playwrights from across the nation have been selected to further develop their stories at the Midwest’s distinctive theater festival in a small Kansas town, where story-telling still lives on front porches of gentle evenings.

The New Play Lab of the 36th Annual William Inge Theater Festival and Conference, a partnership between Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission and Independence Community College, will host 36 outstanding writers from 15 states for the second annual New Play Lab. The Lab takes place April 19-22, during the Inge Festival, the Official Theatre Festival of the State of Kansas.

The scripts, chosen “blind” by a panel of theater artists from across the nation, are rehearsed by top regional directors and actors, in preparation for a public reading for conference and Festival attendees.  Producing partner Kokopelli Theater of Kansas City, MO, casts and rehearses in advance of the Festival, enabling the writers chosen to do a final edit before presentation. A panel of Master Writers and select theater professionals serves as respondents to each work, following the reading.

Play Lab writers join Festival patrons nationwide for panel discussions, lectures, workshops with master playwrights and theater practitioners, evening performances, and the many social events the Festival offers.


The New Play Schedule
and the Full 2017 Inge Festival Schedule, Click Below

The 2017 Inge Festival New Play Lab (in alpha order by title):

2045, by Scott Lummer
A Moment of Clarity, by Philip Middleton Williams
A Punchline, by Michael Schwartz
A String Between Man and the World, by Paige Zubel
An Accident in the Park, by William Ivor Fowkes
Actias Luna – On the Origin of Madness, by Susan Kathryn Hefti
Angels We Have Heard, by Gordon LePage
An Accident in the Park, by William Ivor Fowkes
Break Room, by Rachel Bublitz
The Briefing, by Simon Bowler
Coming up for Air, by Marie Amthor Schuett
Curse of the Wagging Tongue, by Eoin Carney
Duct Tape, by Michael Goldstein
Ebony People, by Steve Gold
Every Concentrated Fragment, by Susan Hansell
Facility, by Phil Darg
Five Days in Calcutta, by Fred Perry
FONDUES and FOND DON'T, by Big Daddy Don Parker
High Grass, by Irene Ziegler
How to be Lazy and Not Feel Guilty, by Drew Petriello
I, Phone, by J. Gulotta
Inherent, by K.J. Dwyer
Johnny Shoemaker, by Rand Higbee
Just Add Water, by John Remington
Legitimate Threat, by Bridget Carson
Like a Billion Likes, by Erik Forrest Jackson
Little Red, by Fengar Gael
Love and Country, by Alex Rubin
Loverboy, by Staci Swedeen
Lured, by Frank J. Avella
Men and Women, by Abbey Khan
O-Town: Voices from Orlando, by David Lee
Ocotillo, by Anna Nicholas
Pillow of Tears, by Lynda Crawford
POSTERS, by Olivia Reevell
Registered, by Daniel Hurewitz
Rouge + Noir, by Connie J. Bennett
Sanctuary, by Val Valdez
She Keeps This Family Together, by Kay Phillips
This Isn’t a Horror Story, by Matthew A Everett
To Grandmother’s House, by Monica McCarthy
Transgress, by Alan Olejniczak

High School Scholarship Winner:
Occupancy of a Disrupted Mind, by Luke Wallace




The New Play Lab during the William Inge Theatre Festival aids the development of new scripts by emerging playwrights.
Scripts selected for the Play Lab have a rehearsed reading by professional actors and directors, and are presented in front of a panel of outstanding respondents.  The next Play Lab will be held during the 36th Annual William Inge Theatre Festival, April 19-22, 2017. Details for submission of scripts are provided in the next post.

In the meantime, please look at the schedule below of the completed 2016 Play Lab at the Inge Festival. This schedule will give you a feeling of what the Play Lab is all about.


Also, enjoy this article about the 2016 William Inge Theatre Festival, published in American Theatre magazine





In honor of our 35thAnniversary, the William Inge Theater Festival and Conference featured its first ever New Play Lab.  Thirty plays were presented for the first time, Wednesday through Friday, April 20-22, of 2016.   Panelists of nationally-renowned theater professionals, including Master Teachers David Henry Hwang(2012 Inge Honoree), Lee Blessing, and Mac Wellman, and Inge New Voices HonoreesCatherine Trieschmann (2012), Catherine Butterfield (1999), and former Inge Playwright in Residence, Obie for Lifetime Achievement Awardee, Caridad Svich, responded to the new works, immediately following each reading.

The Second Annual Play Lab will be held as part of the 2017 William Inge Theatre Festival, April 19-22, 2017. Prospective playwrights are encouraged to watch the Inge Center website for news on how to submit.  

The New Play Lab offered playwrights attending the Festival the opportunity to interact with and have their work seen by professional theater artists from around the country, Festival attendees and the public. In addition, all play lab writers worked directly with professionals in hands-on writing workshops.   

Karen Carpenter, Artistic Director, says, “We are thrilled to realize our mission of helping playwrights further their new work at the Inge Festival.  As hosts of playwrights in residence and their resulting developmental workshops at the Inge Center for the past 15 years, and the crossroads for major theater artists during the Festival, we are uniquely positioned to give a forum to new works that serves to further the playwrights’ process, on the road to production.”

The Living Room Theatreof Kansas City partnered with the Inge Festival to produce the Play Lab readings; casting professional actors and directors to rehearse the plays prior to their presentation here.

Plays were chosen for the Play Lab by a panel of “blind” readers. This Play Lab explored variety in the one act play format: from structure, style, and storytelling, to the very stories we tell and those who tell them, in honor of William Inge and his exploration of the one act in both style and form in the latter years of his life. Submissions from traditionally underrepresented voices were strongly recommended.

The following plays were presented: 

A Life Enriching Community by Philip Middleton Williams

 A Paper Forest by Claudia I. Haas

Amanda Transcending by Connie Bennett

Another Part Of The Field by Francis RTM Boyle

Bang by Daniel Born

Dear Independence, Love Saigon by Deb Sandoval

Delusions Of Grammar by Craig Coyne

Drinks With Mother Teresaby James Trivers

En Plaine Air by Kenneth N. Kurtz

Exit Interview by Eoin Carney

Gentlemen’s Pactby Karen JP Howes

Heathen by Susan Jackson

Judges Decision by Michael Goldstein

Kain’s Curse by Jonathon Ward

Monkey Play by Rand Higbee

Picture Me Rollin’ by Diana Burbano

Platter Tudes by Vicki Vodrey

Soldier Of Fortune by Paul Bowman

Someone To Lean On by Elizabeth Keyser

Style by L.C. Bernadine

Tea & Misery by Terence Patrick Hughes

Terminal by Anne Welsbacher

That Kissb y DC Cathro

The Circus Still Comes To Town by Tom Cavanaugh

The Rescue by Susan Dunlap

The Tale Of The Yooper by Adrienne Thompson

Three Months To The Day by Kathryn Ryan

Trapped Like A You Know What by Jared Strange

True Believers by Joshua Kaplan

Whence You Cameby D.S. Magid.

Responding panelists included:

David Henry Hwang

Throughout his career, playwright David Henry Hwang has explored the complexities of forging Eastern and Western cultures in contemporary America.  His extraordinary body of work, over the past 30 years, has been marked by a deep desire to reaffirm the common humanity in all of us.  He is best known as the author of M. BUTTERFLY, which won the 1988 Tony, Drama Desk, John Gassner, and Outer Critics Circle Awards, and was also a finalist for the 1989 Pulitzer Prize. The play enjoyed a one-year run on London’s West End and has been produce in over four dozen countries to date.  His play GOLDEN CHILD premiered off-Broadway at the Joseph Papp Public Theater, received a 1997 Obie Award for playwriting and subsequently moved to Broadway where it received three 1998 Tony Nominations, including Best New Play.  His play YELLOW FACE, which premiered at Los Angeles’ Mark Taper Forum and New York’s Public Theater, won a 2008 Obie Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.  Mr. Hwang’s Broadway musicals include writing the book for Rodgers & Hammerstein’s FLOWER DRUM SONG, which earned him his third Tony nomination in 2003 for Best Book of a Musical.  He co-wrote the book for Disney’s international hit AIDA, with music and lyrics by Elton John and Tim Rice, which won four 2000 Tony Awards and ran over four years on Broadway, and he was the bookwriter of Disney’s TARZAN, with songs by Phil Collins.


Lee Blessing

Lee Blessing has written over thirty plays, including A WALK IN THE WOODS (nominated for Tony and Olivier Awards and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), GOING TO ST. IVES, A BODY OF WATER, THIEF RIVER, Two Rooms, ELEEMOSYNARY AND COBB. Two of his plays have opened recently – the world premiere of COURTING HARRYat History Theatre in St. Paul, MN and Great Falls – which had its south-of-the Equator debut at the Ensemble Theatre in Sydney, Australia. Blessing’s plays have earned two Steinberg American Theater Critics Association awards, as well as Obie, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, and L.A. Critics Association awards, among others. Three of his plays have also been cited in Time magazine’s list of the year’s ten best.  His TNT movie “Cooperstown” won the Humanitas Award.  For more than a decade he headed the Graduate Playwriting Program at Rutgers University.


Mac Wellman

Mac Wellman is the I. Fine Professor of Play Writing at Brooklyn College, and in 2010 he became a CUNY Distinguished Professor.  Wellman is author to more than forty plays.  His recent work includes

3 2’S ; or AFAR AT DIXON PLACE in October 2011, THE DIFFICULTY OF CROSSING A FIELD (with composer David Lang) at Montclair in the fall of 2006 (and elsewhere more recently), and 1965 UUfor performer Paul Lazar, and directed by Stephen Mellor at the Chocolate Factory in the fall of 2008. He has received numerous honors, including NEA, McKnight, and Rockefeller grants and Guggenheim and Foundation of Contemporary Arts fellowship.  In 2003 he received his third Obie, for Lifetime Achievement.  In 2006 his third novel, Q’s Q was published by Green Integer, and in 2008 a volume of stories, A Chronical of the Madness of Small Worlds, was published by Trip Street Press as well as a new collection of plays The Difficulty of Crossing a Field from Minnesota Press. His novel Linda Perididowon the 2011 FC2 Catherine Doctorow Prize for Innovative Fiction. He is a co-founder of the Flea Theater in New York City.


The Living Room Theatre

In 2009, The Living Room Theatre’s co-founders Rusty Sneary and Shawnna Journagan grew weary of the creatively unfulfilling lifestyle required to maintain an existence in New York. They decided to return to their native Kansas City where a thriving artist community and citywide artistic renaissance would welcome them. Securing a building in Kansas City’s burgeoning Crossroads neighborhood, the concept of “Provocative Theatre, Comfy Chairs” was born. This motto provides the backbone of The Living Room’s guest: to make challenging theatre more accessible and enjoyable to a broad audience by providing a comfortable, supportive atmosphere for theatre view. In fulling this mission, The Living Room has bridged a gap in the theatre community by providing opportunities for the wealth of emerging professional and semi-professional theatre artists in Kansas City, and has grown to include Kansas City-based artist of many disciplines, utilizing actors, directors, musicians, studio and visual artists, and more in its ever-expanding group of creative collaborators. Forrest Attaway serves as the Director of Outreach for The Living Room and will be coordinating the 25 actors coming for the Play Lab.



New Play Lab: Update




We are thrilled to annouce that the Inge Festival is partnering with The Living Room Theatre of Kansas City, MO, who will be producing the new play readings for the Play Lab, utilizing the best acting talent in the city to present the 35 plays selected by our blind jury for presentation at the Festival.  The Living Room Theatre, Artistic Director Rusty Sneary, and Associate Producer Forrest Attaway are well versed in new play development, and delighted to be a part of this new initiative.

Stay tuned for the press release, announcing the writers and their plays!