William Inge Festival Will Honor Namesake Playwright; 2014 Rural Arts Festival Planned
By Adam Hetrick
In a break of tradition in honoring living theatre writers, the 2013 William Inge Theatre Festival will honor its late namesake playwright, who authored such works as Come Back Little Sheba, Picnic and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs.
Held in Independence, KS, at Inge's alma mater, Independence Community College, the Inge Theatre Festival annually honors a living writer, or writing team, with the Inge Festival Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award. Previous honorees have included Arthur Miller, Neil Simon, Stephen Sondheim, August Wilson and Wendy Wasserstein.
The Inge Center will not present a Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award during the May 1-4, 2013, festival, but will continue the tradition of presenting the Otis Guernsey New Voices in the American Theatre Award to an up-and-coming playwright. The festival promises a tribute to Inge's work for film, television and the stage featuring performances by many of America's leading actors.
"The opening of a revival of Picnic on Broadway in January 2013 makes two Broadway revivals of Inge works in four years," Inge center artistic director Peter Ellenstein said in a statement. "There is a resurgence of appreciation in his empathetic characters, as they strive to deal with the difficulties of their lives. It's been more than sixty years since the opening of his first Broadway hit, Come Back, Little Sheba, and his characters are just as real and alive for a modern audience."
The Inge Center also announced that it will launch a summer arts festival in July 2014 thanks to a $150,000 National Endowment for the Arts "Our Town" grant. The festival will focus on the arts of rural America, according to the Inge Center.
According to the center, "The multidisciplinary festival will present performances, arts workshops, exhibitions, and concerts in both traditional and nontraditional places. The festival's centerpiece will be a rotating, four-show repertory of plays that are evocative of rural American themes, both past and present."
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