Each year, this program places our Inge House professional resident playwrights in area schools. The students write their own plays, based on their personal life experiences and the issues that concern them most. This program has been nationally demonstrated to enhance students’ ability to communicate their thoughts, while developing additional outlets for angst, sorrow, rage and other issues that block their ability to learn and function cooperatively in the classroom and society. Playwrights-in-the-Schools actitivies increase students’ academic achievement, empowering the students through an increase in self-esteem, self-expression and exposure to professional experts in creative fields. The program culminates with a reading of the plays, allowing the young writers to hear their works performed before a live audience.

Below is information regarding the Kennedy Center VSA Playwright Discovery Program, one of the Inge Center's more recent playwrights-in-the-schools program.  To contact the Inge Center, e-mail to, call (620)-332-5492, or join our e-mail list on the link below.

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The William Inge Center for the Arts at Independence Community College was pleased to embark on a new project offered in partnership with the Kennedy Center for the Arts VSA Playwright Discovery Program. The Inge Center was one of eight groups nationwide chosen to participate in the first year of the program, which took place in Independence in Fall of 2013.

This program focuses on working with students, grades 6-12, to create original pieces where the idea of facing a disability is at the forefront.

The Inge Center’s playwrights-in-residence have tailored playwriting classes to focus directly on the outline of the VSA program. The students included those from Cherryvale High School, Independence High School, and Successful Environment for Kids Academy (SEK), of Independence.

Inge playwright-in-residence, Burgess Clark is very familiar with the Playwright Discovery Program. He previously worked with the Kennedy Center on different version of the program and coached several VSA playwriting scholarship winners. Assisting him is renowned Los Angeles playwright Stephen Gregg.

“Students who find writing intimidating often excel in dramatic writing,” said Burgess Clark. “The VSA Playwriting program provides common ground to vastly different viewpoints. 

“The key to good playwriting is observation, and any barriers that may exist between students with and without disabilities evaporate through the common experience of composing together,” he added.

VSA, the International Organization on Arts and Disability, is one of the education programs offered through the Kennedy Center, based in Washington, D.C.  Burgess Clark is the Artistic Director of Boston Children’s Theater. He was the winner of the Otis Guernsey New Voices in Playwriting Award at the 15th annual William Inge Theatre Festival in 1996, a guest artist at the 21st Inge Festival in 2002, and an artist-in-residence in 2013.

In the Spring, as part of the Kennedy Center VSA Playwrights Discovery program, professional playwrights E.M Lewis and Russell Davis will work with students at Labette County High School and SEK Academy.

The Inge Center hopes to continue its partnership with the Kennedy Center to offer these types of special opportunities to Southeast Kansas, for learning about disability, and for disabled students to learn about writing for the theatre long into the future.

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