Each year, the William Inge Theater Festival hosts a conference of prominent scholars.  Customarily, the scholars present papers about the works of William Inge and those of the Honoree for that year's Festival. Papers selected for presentation become part of the permanent collection of The Inge Collection, housed at Independence Community College, the official repository of the papers of William Inge. 

The 36th William Inge Theater Festival & Conference


Introductions by Conference Chair, Dr. Jackson Bryer 

Around the Kitchen Table - A Set Piece with a Dramatic Role in Modern Drama

Presented by Philip Middleton Williams, Ph.D.

Ties that 'Bind': The Knotting of Animal Imagery with Despair and Suicide in Crimes of the Heart and The Miss Firecracker Contest 

 Presented by Emeritus Professor Linda Rohrer Paige

"Getting Out of Town'" in Henley's Ladies' Minds

Presented by Professor Jeffrey Loomis

Beth Henley and the Modern Neurosis: Neurotic Behavior in Crimes of the Heart

Presented by Dr. Gene A. Plunka 

Time and Tragedy in Beth Henley's The Jacksonian 

Presented by Professor Verna A. Foster

The Scholars: 

Jackson R. Bryer, Ph.D.,  (Conference Chair) is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he taught undergraduate and graduate courses for more than four decades. In 1981, he served as a consultant to the National Endowment for the Humanities and for the William Inge Archives at Independence Community College. He is the editor of The Playwright’s Art: Conversations with Contemporary American Dramatists, New Essays on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Neglected Stories and co-editor of The Actor’s Art: Conversations with Contemporary American Stage Performers, The Art of the American Musical: Conversations with the Creators, and Conversations with August Wilson. His two most recent publications: as co-editor, William Inge: Essays and Reminiscences on the Plays and the Man (2014) and Eugene O’Neill: The Contemporary Reviews (2014). He received the Inge Festival’s prestigious Jerome Lawrence Award in 2007.

Vera Foster

Jeffrey Loomis, Professor of English at Northwest Missouri State University, has presented papers at seven previous Inge Festivals. He has published approximately sixty scholarly articles, on all genres of literature, as well as a book on the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. Most of his work, however, concentrates on drama, and especially the writings of Tennessee Williams and Tina Howe. Additional essays discuss plays by Shakespeare, Goethe, Strindberg, Albee, Sherman, Shaffer, Zindel, and Sondheim and Lapine.

Linda Rohrer Paige is Professor Emerita of Literature, Georgia Southern U, Statesboro, GA and co-editor, with Robert L. McDonald, of Southern Women Playwrights: New Essays in Literary History and Criticism, U of Alabama P, 2002. Editor of Studies in American Culture, 2001-2004, Paige also served as President of the Popular Culture Association in the South. Her essays on Beth Henley include pieces in A Companion to Twentieth-Century American Drama, 2004; Beth Henley: A Casebook, 2003; and Feminist Writers, 1996. Currently, she is working on a collection of plays by Southern women.

Gene A. Plunka 

Philip Middleton Williams, Ph.D., received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in drama from the University of Miami, a Master of Fine Arts in playwriting from the University of Minnesota, and a Ph.D. in theatre from the University of Colorado in 1988. His first play, The Hunter, was produced at the University of Minnesota as a part of his master’s degree requirements. Can’t Live Without You was his first play to receive a New York production at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre in January 2008. Other works include Ask Me AnythingLast ExitA Life Enriching Community, and Which Way To The Beach. His newest work, All Together Now, is currently in development at New Theatre of Miami, home of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.  In 1992 he was appointed to the national advisory board of the William Inge Theater Festival. He has written numerous articles on the works of Inge and Lanford Wilson and contributed to The Facts on File Companion to American Drama edited by Jackson R. Bryer and Mary C. Hartig. His doctoral thesis, “A Comfortable House – Lanford Wilson, Marshall W. Mason and the Circle Repertory Theatre”, was published by McFarland and Company in 1993. He is a member of The Dramatists Guild.


  Jackson Bryer leads the 2015 Scholars Conference with Deborah Giels, Philip Williams, Nancy Brown 














Papers are invited on the films and plays of William Inge, and/or the works of our 2015 honoree Donald Margulies, designed for a 20-minute oral presentation at the conference.   A wide variety of perspectives and themes are encouraged.  Papers selected for presentation at the conference will be deposited in the William Inge Collection at Independence Community College, the major repository of Inge manuscripts, letters, and memorabilia. An online archive of papers is also currently under development. Papers dealing with William Inge are strongly encouraged.

The William Inge Theatre Festival and Conference is in its fourth decade of honoring major living playwrights through a wide range of performances, readings, seminars, workshops, lectures, panel discussions and historical activities.  For three days this year, the small city of Independence, Kansas, becomes the theatrical center of the universe, with visits from the nation’s greatest playwrights, directors, actors and other theatre practitioners, who all meet to honor a distinguished playwright in a playwright’s town.  Additional awards to a “New Voices” Playwright and other Awards will also be presented.  The 34th Annual festival will be held April 17-19, 2015

Past recipients are: Edward Albee,  Robert Anderson,  Jerry Bock & Sheldon Harnick, Betty Comden & Adolph Green,  Christopher Durang, Horton Foote,  William Gibson,  John Guare,  A. R. Gurney,  Tina Howe,  David Henry Hwang, Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt,  John Kander & Fred Ebb,  Garson Kanin,  Sidney Kingsley, Robert E. Lee,  Arthur Kopit,  Arthur Laurents,  Jerome Lawrence, Romulus Linney,  Terrence McNally,  Arthur Miller,  Marsha Norman,  John Patrick,  Sir Peter Shaffer,  Neil Simon, Stephen Sondheim,  Paula Vogel, Wendy Wasserstein,  August Wilson and Lanford Wilson

Persons interested in submitting a paper should submit a copy (maximum of twenty-minutes reading time and designed for oral presentation to a general audience,) or a substantial abstract with title, by January 31, 2015; early submissions are encouraged.  Please send to:


Karen Carpenter, Interim Artistic Director

The William Inge Center of the Arts

1057 College Ave.

Independence, KS  67301

(800) 842-6063 ext. 5490



We encourage you to forward this message to anyone, or any list, you think might be interested.


Karen Carpenter

Interim Artistic Director

William Inge Center of the Arts


(620) 332-5490 Office

(620) 331-9022 fax