The 37th Annual William Inge Theatre Festival will welcome these outstanding guest artists.
(Artists to be added as confirmed.)


Carlyle Brown

Carlyle Brown is currently a writer/performer and artistic director of Carlyle Brown & Company, based in Minneapolis. Carlyle Brown & Company was formed in 2002 around a constellation of culturally and ethnically diverse artists dedicated to the development and performance of his work in an atmosphere of collaborative co-creation. The Company is interested in innovations in dramatic form, rich story-telling and shaping ideas into theatrical events.

Brown has received commissions from major theaters across the nation. He is also the 2006 recipient of the Black Theatre Network’s Winona Lee Fletcher Award for outstanding achievement and artistic excellence.

A Core Writer of the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis, and an alumnus of New Dramatists in New York, Brown is also recipient of numerous fellowships. Brown has served on the board of directors of The Playwrights' Center and Theatre Communications Group and is a member of the board of the Jerome Foundation. He is a member of the Charleston Jazz Initiative Circle at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina, where his works and papers are archived.

Brown now joins a select roster of world-renowned playwrights who have traveled to the Inge Festival to receive the William Inge Distinguished Achievement in the American Theater Award. They include Arthur Miller, Stephen Sondheim, Edward Albee, Wendy Wasserstein, David Henry Hwang, Tina Howe, August Wilson, and Neil Simon, to name only a few.

Carlyle Brown’s first professional theater production was his Little Tommy Parker Celebrated Colored Minstrel Show at Penumbra Theatre Company in 1986. The next year Penumbra premiered his now famous The African Company Presents Richard III. With a Penumbra premiere of Buffalo Hair in 1994 and a National McKnight Fellowship, Brown moved to the Twin Cities and it has been his artistic home ever since. Other Twin Cities productions: Beggars’ Strikeat the Children’s Theater Company, and the Mixed Blood production of Pure Confidence;that moved to off-Broadway in New York.

Additional plays include The Negro of Peter the Great, A Big Blue Nail, Dartmoor Prison, The Pool Room, Yellow Moon Rising, Down in Mississippi, and others. He has received commissions from Arena Stage, the Houston Grand Opera, the Children’s Theatre Company, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Goodman Theater, Miami University of Ohio and the University of Louisville. He is recipient of playwriting fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, McKnight Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, Jerome Foundation, Theatre Communications Group and the Pew Charitable Trust. Mr. Brown has been artist-in-residence at New York University School of the Arts Graduate Acting Program, The James Thurber House in Columbus, and Ohio State University Theater Department.

Before his career in the theater Carlyle Brown was a specialist in outdoor adventure education working with such organizations as Outward Bound, a maritime educator and for nearly twenty years a licensed master of sailing vessels specializing in 19th century schooners in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Baltic Sea.

Guest Artists


Forrest Attaway is the Artistic Director of Kokopelli Theatre Company. Former Artistic Director of Stage Left Productions in the Northwest, Forrest began his professional career under the tutelage of Dr. Jo Ann McDowell, one of the founders of the William Inge Festival. Forrest performed in several far flung conferences across the country, working with and learning from the most respected and revered minds in the American Theatre. Forrest has worked in over thirty cities across the United States as an actor, playwright and director and is currently charged with producing the William Inge inaugural play lab for it’s thirty fifth anniversary. Forrest, a graduate of Texas A&M- Commerce, moved to Kansas City in 2011 where he met his wife Amy, and never left. Forrest says “It’s great to be back in the conference/festival system, it’s programs like this that do so much for not only emerging artist but recharges the batteries of more established professionals” Some of the luminaries that Forrest has worked with are, August Wilson, Arthur Kopit, Emily Mann, Edward Albee, John Guare, Romulus Linney, Terrence McNally, Joe Chaikin among other gifted and talented playwrights and directors.

Beaufield Berry-Fisher is a founding member and former executive director of FireBelly Rep, a playwright driven theater collective that serves the vision of the writer first and foremost. Beaufield is the recipient of the 2016 Nebraska Arts Council distinguished IAF award. Her work has been staged across the nation, THE WAITING LINE (2011) debuted at Manhattan Repertory Theater.  She’s an alumni of the Philadelphia Spark Fest, Great Plains Theater Conference, NYC Fringe, and the William Inge Festival. A Disney Musicals in Schools Teaching Artist, Beau helped launch the flagship program in 2016 offering undeserved school districts outlets in Musical Theater. Beau is also a journalist for American Theater Magazine, collecting stories across the Midwest’s growing theater scene, and a novelist. Childhood Friends, her novel debuted this year. Her latest play, IN THE UPPER ROOM, can be seen this later this spring at GPTC in Omaha. 

Jennifer Blagen has been performing in the Twin Cities for over 40 years now. Theaters include over 20 years with The Guthrie Theater, Pillsbury House Theater, Workhaus Collective, History Theater, Mixed Blood Theatre, Theater Latte Da, The Children's Theater, Eye of the Storm, Ten Thousand Things, The Theater Exchange, The Phoenix Ensemble, Chanhassen Dinner Theater, The Old Log Theater, and many more. Films include The Wagon, Dragonfly, Stay Then Go, Little Words, Older than America, and I am Not a Serial Killer. This is her second visit to the Inge Center, having performed in a play development workshop in 2013 with Playwright-in-Resident Larissa Fasthorse. Jennifer got her MFA at the National Theater Conservatory under Tony Church and her BA magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota.

Gigi Bolt is a theatre and musical theatre program consultant, and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Theatre Management and Producing Program at Columbia University.  She was Director of Theater and Musical Theater at the National Endowment for the Arts from 1995 till 2006.  In 2006-2007 she served as Interim Executive Director of Theatre Communications Group.  Prior to joining the Endowment, she was Director of the Theater Program at the New York State Council on the Arts.  Her tenure at the Council was preceded by work as an actor including five seasons as a member of the company of the Cleveland Play House.  Consulting projects have included work with the National New Play Network, NAMT’s National Fund for New Musicals, Theatre Development Fund, Musical Theatre Matters (UK), the Network of Ensemble Theatres, the Mellon Foundation and the Humana Festival.  She serves on the William Inge Festival Foundation Board, Ford’s Theatre’s Advisory Council, the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat Sounding Board, and the Emeritus Boards of SITI Company and Theatre Communications Group.  She is the recipient of a Chairman’s Distinguished Service Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the League of Professional Theatre Women’s Lee Reynolds Award, the La MaMa E.T.C. Silver Bell Award, and the Alumni Honor Citation from the University of Kansas. 

Luqman Brown's life began in the theater. Son to noted playwright CARLYLE BROWN, Luqman is a well-known bandleader with over twenty years of experience in on-stage performance and studio recording—prolific and proficient as a recording engineer, producer and composer. He's written and produced music for bands and solo performers, as well as for TV, radio and film. As a sound designer he was a nominee for Arena stages SEED, but won the Adelco for Classical Theater of Harlem’s: THREE MUSKETEERS, Other theater credits include Guthrie Theaters: THE PARCHMENT HOUR; Signature theater: HURT VILLAGE; Miami New Dramas: THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY, National Black Theater: PECULIAR PATRIOT; and so much more. You can check it all out at

Darren Canady’s work has been produced at the Alliance Theatre, Congo Square Theater, American Conservatory Theater, Aurora Theatre, Horizon Theatre, London’s the Old Vic Theatre, M Ensemble, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, American Blues Theater, and others. His awards include the Alliance Theater's Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Award, Chicago’s Black Excellence Award, the Black Theatre Alliance Award, and the American Theatre Critics Association’s Osborn Award. His play You’re Invited appeared in The Best American Short Plays 2010-2011. His work has been developed at the Fremont Centre Theatre, Premiere Stages, and Penumbra Theatre. He is an alum of Carnegie Mellon University, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, The Juilliard School, and is a former member of Primary Stages’ Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group. He is an artistic affiliate with American Blues Theater and Congo Square Theatre. He currently teaches playwriting at the University of Kansas.

Jeff Church is Producing Artistic Director of The Coterie Theatre in Kansas City, which, during his tenure, was named in the top five theatres for young audiences in the US by Time Magazine. At Woolly Mammoth in Washington, DC, he directed Helen Hayes Award winning The Rocky Horror Show and Al Carmines' Wanted. For the Kansas City Repertory, he helmed The Drawer Boy, and for Seattle Children’s Theatre, Seussical and The Wrestling Season (which also played the Kennedy Center), as well as Quentos at the Denver Center. For the Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City, he has directed 10 productions, including Love! Valour! Compassion!, bare, The Judas Kiss, Next Fall, Laramie Project, Sister Mary Ignatius, and others. His Coterie highlights have included producing the Coterie’s Great Books/Banned Books season, creating the "TYA versions" of Seussical, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Shrek and more, working with the Broadway composers. Prior to The Coterie, Jeff was a playwright-in-residence at Kennedy Center Youth & Family Programs and taught at Ellington School in D.C. He has been a board officer of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), currently teaches graduate level Text Analysis for UMKC Theatre; inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre in 2006.

Ben Corbett is Associate Professor of Voice and Acting Instructor at the Inge Center.  He is a Designated Linklater Voice Teacher (Shakespeare & Co. '12). His professional acting credits include two-and-a-half years as a resident actor at Barter Theatre, with additional roles at the William Inge Theatre Festival, City Rep, Blowing Rock Stage Co., Burning Coal Theatre Co., Light Opera Oklahoma, Shakespeare & Co., North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival, and Shakespeare Festival of Dallas. He serves as both an actor and voice teacher at the Last Frontier Theatre Festival.  He's is a proud member of Actor’s Equity, and an Associate Editor for Oklahoma for the International Dialects of English Archive. He has launched his own voice practice,, and welcomes private clients who wish to explore the possibility and power of their speaking voices.

Johnny Lee Davenport first worked with Carlyle Brown in 2001 when he played Ibrahim in the world premiere of The Negro of Peter the Great at Alabama Shakespeare. In 2016, he played Papa Shakespeare for The American Players’ Theatre production of The African Company Presents Richard III and will reprise that role for the Oak Park Theatre Festival this summer. Boston-based, Davenport’s most recent shows include Anna Christie (Lyric Stage); Oleanna (New Rep); Fences (Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando); Bank Job (Gloucester Stage); Thurgood (New Rep); Oedipus Rex (PICT, Pittsburgh); Akeelah and the Bee (Wheelock Family Theatre); The African Company Presents Richard III, Death of a Salesman, and Arcadia (APT, Spring Green, Wis.), Bootycandy (Speakeasy), Beowulf (The Poets’ Theatre), and Water by the Spoonful (TheatreSquared, Fayetteville, Ark.). Boston Magazine’s Best Actor, Elliot Norton Best Actor, 2 Broadway World Boston Awards and D.C.’s Helen Hayes Award. For full career credits, please visit

Chuma Gault is a Los Angeles based theater artist . In 2011 he first came to Independence as part of the original cast to develop EM Lewis' new play "Magellanica", a five-hour epic which staged its world premier this season at Artists Repertory Theater in Portland, OR. Chuma has been involved as a guest artist/director for the Beth Henley, Arthur Kopit and William Inge tribute festivals. For the Inge 35th year celebration, he starred in the 50th anniversary production of "Where's Daddy?" by William Inge. Acting awards: Los Angeles Stage Raw Awards for "The Gun Show" by EM Lewis (Moving Arts) outstanding solo performance nomination (2015); LA WEEKLY Awards nominee for "Freedom Summer" by Stephen Sachs (Fountain Theater), "Tree" by Julie Hébert (EST-LA) which also garnered a LA Drama Critics Circle nomination for Best male performance.  Directing credits include: scenes from "Abundance" by Beth Henley for the 2017 Inge festival, 2018 Kilroy's List play "Hangman" (workshop) by Stacy Ossei-Kuffour, "Party Girls" by Tira Palmquist (Moving Arts' Car Plays/Segerstrom Center for the Arts), "Phenom" by Charlayne Woodard (Car Plays/La Jolla Playhouse), "The Guard Will Escort You to Ruff Ruff" by Carole Real (Ensemble Studio Theater-Los Angeles.) Film credits: Chuma plays Nina Simone's husband Andrew in the biopic "Nina". TV: Chuma recently starred in the drama "Game of Silence" (NBC). Recent Commercials: Total Wireless, Nationwide, Amica, Lowes, and Edward Jones. Chuma wants to give a special thank you to the awesome Inge staff, and Cyndy & Grant Sherwood. Social Media contact: @ChumaGault; @Bigtimeoperator;

Hannah Joyce-Hoven is the Director of Membership Programs at the Playwrights' Center, one of the major playwright-centered new play development organizations in the U.S., providing support and resources to over 2000 playwrights around the world. She is also a freelance actor and producer. Before working at the Playwrights' Center, she worked for a number of years at the William Inge Center for the Arts as Director of Operations. She is a proud member of the Board of the William Inge Festival Foundation. Originally from St. Louis, she has worked with various theaters there, including the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Her professional training includes teaching artist certification from the Lincoln Center Arts Education program. She is also trained as a yoga instructor. She has a BA from Wheaton College. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband Matt and her two daughters Dorienne and Dierdre.

Jamil Jude is a director, producer, playwright, and dramaturg. Self-identifying as an "Artist Plus", Jamil feels most at home bringing socially relevant art to the community. Jamil is the Associate Artistic Director at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta, GA as well as the Co-Founder of The New Griots Festival. He was a participant in the Leadership U: One-on-One program, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by Theatre Communications Group. The program provided him a residency at Park Square Theatre, in St. Paul, MN, where he worked as Artistic Programming Associate. Prior to that, he served as the National New Play Network (NNPN) Producer in Residence at Mixed Blood Theatre Company. He remains an Affiliated Artist with NNPN. Before joining Mixed Blood, Jamil served as a New Play Producing Fellow at Arena Stage in Washington, DC. Jamil has helmed productions for D.C. area companies (Olney Theatre and Forum Theatre), in Denver (Curious Theatre), in Atlanta (True Colors) as well as various Twin Cities’ theatre companies, including Park Square Theatre, History Theatre, Freshwater Theatre, Theatre in the Round, Stages Theatre Company, Daleko Arts, and Lakeshore Players. Jamil has also taught and directed at Augsburg University and the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN. As a playwright, Jamil was the 2013-14 Jerome Many Voices Mentee at The Playwrights’ Center, where he remains an affiliated writer. 

Todd London is executive director of the University of Washington's School of Drama. He spent 18 seasons as artistic director of New York's New Dramatists, the nation's oldest laboratory theatre for playwrights. Todd's books include, An Ideal Theater: Founding Visions for a New American Art; Outrageous Fortune: The Life & Times of the New American Play; The Importance of Staying Earnest, and The World's Room, a novel. He was the first recipient of Theatre Communications Group's Visionary Leadership Award for advancing "the theatre field as a whole." A former managing editor of American Theatre, he has won the prestigious Goerge Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism for his essays and a Milestone Award for his novel. He is the author of an ongoing Howlround column, "A Lover's Guide to American Playwrights" and found of the Third Bohemia, a travelling series of interdisciplinary artistic retreats.

Noel Raymond is the Co-Artistic Director of Pillsbury House + Theatre where she has helped lead, develop and implement theatre and arts programmign to promote community vitality since 1995. Noel has worked extensively as an actor and director in theaters locally and nationally and is currently a core member of Carlyle Brown & Company. Noel's directing credits include Almost Equal To, The Children, Far Away, and Angels in Amerca: Parts I and II at Pillsbury House Theatre; Are You Now..., Therapy and Resistance, Acting Black, and Down in Mississippi for Carlyle Brown & Co., and multiple staged readings and workshops through the Playwrights' Center. She has served on the Arts Commission for the City of Minneapolis and she co-founded the Burning House Group Theatre Company. Noel co-authored, with Denise Kulawik, a case study of Pillsbury House Theatre for the book Building Communities Not Audiences. She received a 2017 Ivey Award for her direction of The Children.

Mikell Sapp is Minnesota's 2015 Ivey Award winner for Emerging Artist from Phoenix City, AL and a proud graduate of Alabama State University. He started his professional career at Pillsbury House Theatre (MN) performing in Broke-Ology in 2011. Since then, he has worked at numerous theaters around the Twin Cities. He has performed in: Pussy Valley (Mixed Blood Theatre), The Snowy Day (Children's Theatre Company), Electra (Ten Thousand Things Theater), A Crack in the Sky (History Theatre), Marcus; or The Secret of Sweet (Guthrie), The Ballad of Emmett Till and Spunk (Penumbra Theatre). He is particularly proud to have been in Carlyle Brown’s play and production of Down in Mississippi and to be here, at the William Inge Theatre Festival, honoring him.

Imani Vaughn-Jones is an Atlanta based actress, model, and playwright. She is thrilled to be a part of the William Inge Theatre Festival and helping celebrate the work of Carlyle Brown. A few of her previous credits include A Raisin in the Sun and Hamlet (Park Square Theatre), Luna Gale (Underdog Theater), and Cymbeline and In the Blood (UMN/Guthrie). When she’s not acting, Imani is the founder and editor in chief of the digital publication Super Dope&Extra Lit Magazine. She’s always open to creative collaboration and hearing new ideas, so just reach out! @yourfirstblackgirlfriend

Ralph F. Voss, a native Kansan, is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Alabama, where he taught courses in writing, American literature, and rhetoric for over 30 years. A longtime performer at the William Inge Theatre Festival, Voss is author of ""A Life of William Inge: The Strains of Triumph,"" which is considered the most thorough Inge biography. Voss holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from Fort Hays State University and a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to his biography of Inge, Voss has written "Truman Capote and the Legacy of 'In Cold Blood,’ " and he is the editor of "Magical Muse: Millennial Essays on Tennessee Williams." Among Voss's other books are "Elements of Practical Writing," and he co-authored two editions of "The Heath Guide to College Writing" with Professor Michael L. Keene. Voss is also a co-editor of "Against the Grain: Essays in Honor of Maxine Hairston." During his 44-year teaching career, Voss also authored numerous articles in the fields of American literature, American drama, and expository writing in such journals as "American Drama," "College Composition and Communication," "The Tennessee Williams Annual Review," and "Library Chronicle." He wrote literary encyclopedia articles on William Inge and Inge's plays.

Amanda White is honored to return to Independence for the 2018 William Inge Theatre Festival, and for the opportunity to honor Carlyle Brown. In addition to being an actor and director based in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Amanda is founding Artistic Director at DalekoArts, an ensemble theatre company in New Prague, MN. Amanda is a member of the Theatre performance faculty at Normandale Community College, and most recently, she served as the Managing Director at Mixed Blood Theatre Company in Minneapolis. She is a graduate of Columbia University's Program in Arts Administration, Minnesota State University's MFA in Theatre Performance, and the School at Steppenwolf at Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

Stephen Yoakam is a longtime member of the Twin Cities theater community. He has appeared in over 80 productions at the Guthrie Theater, most recently in King Lear. Other Guthrie credits include Othello, The Crucible, An Iliad, Burial at Thebes and the History Plays.  He is a founding member of the Mixed Blood Theater, and has collaborated for many years with writers at The Playwrights Center. He has performed with the Des Moines Symphony, The Music Academy of the West and with the Minnesota Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. Stephen received the McKnight Theater Artist award in 2013.

Bruce A. Young is thrilled to be a part of the William Inge Theatre Festival as they honor Carlyle Brown with their annual Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award.  Mr. Young has performed throughout the country, in Chicago, Minneapolis, Atlanta and Los Angeles.  His most recent performance was in Minneapolis with the Mixed Blood Theatre and their production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night.  Sci-fi enthusiasts will recognize him from the Star Trek Renegades films and TVs The Sentinel. He even occasionally dons his directors hat with world premieres in Atlanta, Horizon TheatreSheddin, and Mixed Bloods Chronicles of Kalki. Or you just might catch his bone crushing fight choreography at theater near you. His next assignment takes him back home to Minneapolis and Mixed Bloods 2018 season.  Congratulations Mr. Brown!