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Inge Festival Announces Playwright to be Honored at Festival - KOAM TV 7

Inge Festival Announces Playwright to be Honored at Festival

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The Inge Festival at Independence Community College will honor African-American playwright Carlyle Brown. The Inge Festival is scheduled for May 9-12.  It was established in honor of the Independence native William Inge who won the Pulitzer Prize for the play, "Picnic." The following is a press release from the festival committee. 

William Inge Theater Festival Welcomes
African-American Dramatist Carlyle Brown

The 37th Annual William Inge Theater Festival welcomes Carlyle Brown, one of America’s foremost dramatists of the African-American experience, from May 9-12, to the small town of Independence, Kansas.

Designated by the state legislature as the Official Theater Festival of Kansas, the Inge Festival is located in the hometown of the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer William Inge (“Picnic.”) It is part of Independence Community College, in southeast Kansas.

The William Inge Theater Festival culminates in a multi-media Tribute to Carlyle Brown’s moving and inspiring plays. Brown will then join the illustrious list of past Honorees who have accepted the award in this prairie town 90 miles north of Tulsa, Okla.  These include Arthur Miller, August Wilson, Paula Vogel, Wendy Wasserstein, Beth Henley, and many more.

“Carlyle Brown’s fascinating body of work is highly worthy as one of the outstanding achievements by contemporary American playwrights,” said Inge Center Artistic Director Eric Rutherford. “There is no better way to celebrate a playwright than to see his plays, and we are proud to feature Mr. Brown’s work so prominently at this year’s festival.”

Three of the four nights feature works by Brown. The Festival opens Wednesday, May 9, with a staged reading of his poetic drama “Are you now or have you ever been…”  This story envisions the demons and dilemmas facing the writer Langston Hughes on the eve of appearing at the McCarthy Hearings. Curtain is 7:30 p.m. at the William Inge Theatre at the college.

The show is produced in partnership with the Kokopelli Theater, of Kansas City. Mo.  Damron Russell plays Langston Hughes, and the cast also includes: Gary Neal Johnson, Coleman Crenshaw, Matthew Schmidli, David Fritts, and Elroy Haki. Missy Koonce is director.

Kokopelli Theater also presents the Friday, May 11, production of Carlyle Brown’s “Down in Mississippi.” During the “Freedom Summer” of 1964, three young voting rights activists discover that before they can change the world, they will have to change themselves. This is Brown’s celebration of a movement that gave birth to the Civil Rights acts of 1964.  Curtain is 7:30 p.m., also at the William Inge Theatre.

The cast members are DeAngelo Davis, Mike Ott, Elise Poehling, and Enjoli Gavin. Forrest Attaway is producer/artistic director.

The third evening of works by Carlyle Brown is the multi-media Tribute, on Saturday, May 12.  The Tribute celebrates the outstanding plays and career of Carlyle Brown. The climax is the presentation of the William Inge Theater Festival Distinguished Achievement in the American Theater Award to Mr. Brown.  Curtain is 7:30 p.m.

A cast of actors from across the nation will present scenes from selected Carlyle Brown plays. They include: Jennifer Blagen, Johnny Lee Davenport, Imani Vaughn-Jones, E. Roger Mitchell, Kory Pullam, Mikell Sapp, Charles Weldon, Stephen Yoakam, and Bruce A. Young. Presenters include Todd London, C. Andrew Mayer, and Luqman Brown, the Honoree’s son. Ben Corbett is Tribute Director and script writer is Darren Canady.

The Festival recognizes the legacy of its namesake writer during “An Evening with Mr. Inge” on Thursday, May 10, at 7:30 p.m.  It features scenes from selected plays by William Inge, performed by theater students from Kansas University, University of Tulsa, and Independence Community College. Ralph Voss, author of the biography “A Life of William Inge: The Strains of Triumph” is the featured guest.  Erick Wolfe is evening host.

The four-day festival includes a New Play Lab, in which emerging playwrights have critiques of their scripts; workshops and educational panels, and numerous social events, including, of course, a “picnic” at the Riverside Park.

Tickets are on sale at www.ingecenter.org and admission ranges from $5 to $20, pending event.

The Inge Festival this year partners with actors from Kokopelli Theatre in Kansas City, the KC Fringe Festival, and the Playwrights Center of Minneapolis.

The Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission is a partner with the Inge Festival New Play Lab. The Inge Center is also supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, as well as the William Inge Festival Foundation.

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