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Shannon TL Kearns is summer 2021 Playwright-in-Residence

The William Inge Center for the Arts is thrilled to welcome Shannon TL Kearns to Independence, Kansas as the summer 2021 playwright-in-residence at William Inge’s boyhood home. 

The William Inge Center’s playwright residency, now in its second decade, provides playwrights the opportunity to write and develop their new plays in the same surroundings that inspired young William Inge to his Pulitzer Prize–winning work. Playwrights are invited to an extended stay in Independence to write, create, and to engage with the community in ways that reflect the playwright’s artistry.

We did a little Q&A with Shannon to introduce him to you:

Q: What excites you about this residency program?

A: I recently left my full-time job to concentrate on creative work and so this residency comes at the perfect time; providing space and resources to do just that. I’m excited to explore a new community, to immerse myself in creative work, and to have time and space to write in a new setting. So extraordinarily grateful for this opportunity. 

Q: What are you working on right now?

A: I’m working on two projects at the moment: “Body + Blood” is about a transgender man who is a priest, questioning how to make a difference in the world. It’s a play about ritual, and in-between spaces, and how we connect with one another.

I’m also working on a cycle of plays about a family over the course of two generations. How does trauma get handed down? How do we break generational trauma? It’s a cycle about religion, mental health, and trans issues. 

Q: What is something that is bringing you joy these days?

A: I’m finding a lot of joy in reclaiming activities that I loved as a child. I’ve been spending my evenings putting together complex Lego sets and trying to learn to ride a skateboard. It’s a way of connecting to and giving love to the child that still lives in me. Honoring all of the selves that have gotten me to this place and promising to care for those selves moving forward. It sometimes feels silly, but it’s also bringing me great joy. 

When Shannon isn’t writing, skateboarding, and taking in the beautiful surroundings of Southeast Kansas, he will be visiting as a guest artist in the theater classrooms at Independence Community College.  

Shannon TL Kearns is a transgender man who believes in the transformative power of story. As an ordained priest, a playwright, a theologian, and a writer, all of his work revolves around making meaning through story. He founded Uprising Theatre Company in Minneapolis, and he is the co-founder of QueerTheology.com, and will soon publish with Eerdmaan’s books. 

Shannon is a recipient of the Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellowship in 20/21, was a Lambda Literary Fellow for 2019, and a Finnovation Fellow for 2019/2020. He is a much sought-after speaker on transgender issues and religion as well as a skilled facilitator of a variety of workshops. 

His work with Brian G. Murphy at QueerTheology.com has reached more than a million people all over the world through videos, articles, and online courses and community. 

Shannon’s plays include Body+Bloodin a stand of dying treesLine of SightTwisted DeathsThe Resistance of My Skin, and Who Has Eyes to See. He has two television pilots: Family Unit and Transformed. He and his plays have been: a finalist for the Equity Library Theatre of Chicago’s Reading Series, 2019 TransLab, American Stages 2019 New Play Festival, and a semi-finalist for the New Works series at Garry Marshall Theatre. He was also a semi-finalist for SPACE on Ryder farm in 2020.

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The Inge House playwright residency is supported in large part by an ArtsWorks grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the William Inge Festival Foundation, and Independence Community College.

The William Inge Center for the Arts is best known as the producer of the annual William Inge Theater Festival, the Official Theater Festival of the State of Kansas. The festival has been on hiatus since March 2020 and will resume regular activities in spring of 2022 when it welcomes renowned American playwright Lynn Nottage to Kansas, April 21-23, 2022 to be celebrated as our annual festival playwright honoree. For more information, visit our website at www.ingecenter.org or email info@ingecenter.org.

The Inge Center welcomes Tim J. Lord as playwright-in-residence

After a year-long hiatus, the Inge Center is thrilled to welcome Tim J. Lord to Kansas as a playwright-in-residence at William Inge’s boyhood home at the end of this month. 

The residency hopes to provide the opportunity to develop a playwright’s new plays in the same surroundings that inspired young William Inge to his Pulitzer Prize winning work. 

The residency is supported in large part by an ArtsWorks grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the William Inge Festival Foundation, and Independence Community College.

When Tim isn’t writing, hiking, and taking in the beautiful surroundings of Southeast Kansas, he will be teaching playwriting to a class of high school students at Labette County High, as well as visiting as a guest artist in the theater classrooms at Independence Community College.  

Tim J. Lord is the recipient of the inaugural Apothetae-Lark Fellowship for a writer with a disability and a 2017-18 Jerome Fellow at The Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis. As a native of the Midwest and a member of the disability community he tells stories of people and communities who are often overlooked on our stages and strives to illuminate ignored and underrepresented perspectives.

His play We Declare You a Terrorist examines the 2002 Moscow Theatre Hostage crisis and the ways in which it changes one of the survivors, leading him down a road of dissent and resistance against the burgeoning dictatorship his home is turning into. The play received a finishing commission from Round House Theatre and will be produced in their 2021-22 season.

As the 2019 Reg E. Cathey Writer-in-Residence at the Orchard Project, he began writing The Hard Price which tracks the effects of our two wars in Iraq on two generations of a family over a decade and a half in North Dakota’s oil country. Using the House of Atreus mythology as a model for the play’s Erekson family, it interweaves the ambitions, atmosphere, and urgency of ancient drama into a familiar, contemporary narrative and asks how denying one’s own human weaknesses can become more disabling than a physical disability?

His other big Greek project is a radical re-imagining of the Oedipus story in the form of a trilogy of plays set in contemporary Southern Illinois. Over the course of his Lark fellowship, he wrote and developed the plays Down in the face of God, a post-apocalyptic mashup of The Bacchae and Antigone; and On Every Link a Heart Does Dangle; or, Owed, a riff on Oedipus which pushes the title character offstage, replacing him with a young woman with a serious physical disability who undertakes a difficult quest to discover what’s slowly destroying her hometown. The final play, currently in development, will be I Never Cared for You; or, Lies, which will explore the global refugee crisis via the story of Oedipus’ exiled father.

Other work has been developed and produced at The Public Theater, The Lark, The Kennedy Center, Actors Theatre of Louisville, New Harmony Project, The Playwrights’ Center, Pillsbury House + Theater, Circle Rep, the Summer Play Festival, The Cutout Theatre, The Vagrancy, Barn Arts Collective, and The Working Theater.

Tim studied with Paula Vogel while a resident of Providence, RI, and is a graduate of the MFA Playwriting Program at the University of California, San Diego.

The William Inge Center for the Arts is best known as producer of the annual William Inge Theater Festival, the Official Theater Festival of the State of Kansas. The festival has been on hiatus since March 2020 and will resume regular activities in spring of 2022 when it welcomes Lynn Nottage to Kansas to be celebrated as our annual festival playwright honoree. For more information, e-mail info@ingecenter.org.

The 19th Edition of “24 Hour Plays: ICC” Scheduled August 28, 2021

“The High School 24 Hour Plays: ICC” returns from a COVID hibernation in a public performance at 7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Sponsored by Independence Community College Theater Department and the William Inge Center for the Arts, this favorite event brings together dozens of very talented high school drama students to collaborate on the writing and production of six original short plays in just, yes, 24 hours. Our “High School 24 Hour Plays” is one of the few in the nation that mixes students from a variety of schools to work together, emphasizing collaboration, not competition. “The 24 Hour Plays: ICC” is for high school students, in partnership with the 24-Hour Plays of New York (www.24hourplays.com).

For details or registration information, please contact theatre@indycc.edu or call Associate Professor of Theater Paul Molnar at 620-332-5419.

To view a taste of the shows that occur, check out these photos of previous The 24 Hour Plays at ICC. Photos by Ron Osborn.

We stand with black playwrights and theater artists.

Black lives matter. The Inge Center stands with black playwrights and black theater artists, and we commit to uplifting their voices now and into the future.

The murder of George Floyd and the ensuing protests around the world are a watershed moment in America’s identity and future. As an organization that celebrates American playwrights and the multiplicity of stories they tell, we consciously commit to ending institutional racism in our own organization. We vow to use this moment of reckoning to engage in truly meaningful change.

But words without actions are empty, and we acknowledge that we haven’t done enough. So we will actively work to dismantle the inherited structural racism built into our systems of power, decision making, and programming, and endeavor to build a diverse and compassionate environment for underrepresented artists.

We are ready to take a hard look at how our institution perpetuates inequity and exclusion, and commit to changing those aspects of our organization in a meaningful and transparent way. With a thoughtful, long term approach, we will make this our ongoing work. 

While the responsibility for change lies squarely on us, we welcome your advice and guidance, your voice and perspective, asking to be held accountable on the important journey ahead.

Yours in conviction and hope,

The William Inge Center 

Lynn Nottage to receive the Distinguished Achievement in the American Theater Award

The 39th William Inge Theater Festival will welcome two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage to Kansas to receive the Distinguished Achievement in the American Theater Award, which will be presented the final night of the Festival, in spring 2022.

The Inge Festival takes place at Independence Community College and in the small town of Independence, Kansas, which is the birthplace of Pulitzer and Oscar-winning playwright William Inge (1913-1973).

“This celebration is long-overdue,” said Hannah Joyce-Hoven, Producing Artistic Director of the William Inge Center for the Arts. “Lynn’s work has been transforming the American Theater for decades. We look forward to welcoming her to Kansas and sharing her work with theater-lovers and makers from across the country.”

Nottage, a screenwriter as well as playwright, is the first woman to win two Pulitzers for Drama and joins August Wilson as the only other African-American dramatist with two Pulitzer recognitions.

Nottage’s Pulitzer-winning plays are “Sweat”, (2017), also nominated for Tony Award for Best Play; and “Ruined” (2007.)

Lynn Nottage will join the roster of acclaimed playwrights who have traveled to Independence in Southeast Kansas to receive the Distinguished Achievement in the American Theater Award. Previous recipients of the award include Arthur Miller, August Wilson, Stephen Sondheim, Wendy Wasserstein, Paula Vogel, David Henry Hwang, and most recently Octavio Solis, to name a few.

Nottage is a member of the Dramatists Guild, an Associate Professor at Columbia University School of the Arts, and the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship, Steinberg “Mimi” Distinguished Playwright Award, and the Doris Duke Artists Award, among others.

The Inge Festival is the Official Theater Festival of the State of Kansas. The four-day festival will include numerous performances, a New Play Lab featuring readings of new plays by writers from across the country, workshops and panel conversations for theater students, practitioners, and the public, a scholars’ conference, social events, and more.

Major contributors include the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the William Inge Festival Foundation, and Independence Community College. For more information visit www.ingecenter.org.

Gina Femia is 2020 Inge Festival New Voices Winner

Playwright Gina Femia is the recipient of the 2020 William Inge Theatre Festival’s Otis Guernsey New Voices in the American Theatre Award, which recognizes substantial early contributions to the contemporary American stage.

Femia will be presented with the New Voices Award at the 39th annual Inge Festival, May 14-16, at Independence Community College in Independence, Kansas. Femia will join Honoree Lynn Nottage as the Inge Festival celebrates outstanding playwriting in the hometown of the late William Inge, the Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award-winning writer. William Inge won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (Picnic) and Oscar for Best Screenplay (Splendor in the Grass). The Inge Festival is designated by the state legislature as the Official Theater Festival of Kansas.

Femia will have work of her own presented as a reading during the festival.

“We’re thrilled to recognize Gina’s attuned and courageous storytelling, which examines our societal stigmas and norms through the voices of characters that often go unheard, and ultimately offers us hope,” said William Inge Center for the Arts Producing Artistic Director, Hannah Joyce.

The New Voices Award is named for the late Otis L. Guernsey, respected theater critic and scholar. As editor of the annual “Best Plays” anthology, he was a champion of new plays, and a longtime attendee and advocate of the Inge Festival.

Gina Femia has written over 30 full-length plays which have been developed/produced/seen at MCC, Page 73, Playwrights Horizons, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Center Theatre Group, Rattlestick Theatre, New Georges, Powerhouse, Theatre of NOTE, Great Plains Theatre Conference, Panndora Productions and Project Y, among others.

She is a 2019-2022 Core Writer with the Playwrights Center, and a current member of both Nashville Rep’s Ingram New Plays Lab and Parsnip Ship’s Radio Roots Writer’s group. She’s an alum of EST Youngblood, Page 73’s Interstate 73, Pipeline Theatre’s PlayLab and New Georges’ Audrey Residency. She’s received commissions from EST, Spicy Witch Productions and Retro Theatre Productions and residencies with Page 73, Powerhouse, NTI at the O’Neill, Fresh Ground Pepper and SPACE on Ryder Farm. Her play, ALLOND(R)A is included on the 2019 Kilroys List. Winner: Leah Ryan Prize and Doric Wilson Award.

She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College (Lipkin Prize in Playwriting). Find out more at www.femiagina.com.

Previous Otis L. Guernsey New Voices in the American Theater Award winners are: Adam Bock; Catherine Butterfield; Brian Burgess Clark; Kara Lee Corthorn, Joe DiPietro; Mark St. Germain; Katori Hall; Lynne Kaufman; Lauren Gunderson; Mary Hanes; David Hirson; Samuel D. Hunter; David Ives; Melanie Marnich; Jason Milligan; Carlos Murillo; Dael Orlandersmith; Mary Portser; Theresa Rebeck; J.T. Rogers; Jen Silverman; Mat Smart; James Still; Catherine Trieschmann; and Dana Yeaton.

The 39th Annual William Inge Theater Festival Honoree is Lynn Nottage, who will receive the William Inge Festival’s Distinguished Achievement in the American Theater Award.

The festival, May 14-16, 2020, features numerous performances and workshops. Notable is the New Play Lab, in partnership with the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission, in which playwrights from across the nation have a professional public reading of a script.

Additional major supporters include Independence Community College, the William Inge Festival Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information and tickets, visit www.ingecenter.org.