Shannon TL Kearns is summer 2021 Playwright-in-Residence

Shannon TL Kearns

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, 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 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.


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 or email