Inge Festival Honors Arthur Kopit in Independence, KS, Beg. Today
Arthur Kopit, playwright, librettist, screenwriter, adapter and mentor, a multiple Tony and Drama Desk and Pulitzer Prize nominee, will be the Honoree of the 33rd Annual William Inge Theatre Festival in Independence, Kansas, at Independence Community College.
The Official Theatre Festival of the State of Kansas, the Inge Festival runs today, March 26-29, 2014.
Kopit joins the roster of internationally renowned playwrights who have traveled to the Inge Festival to receive the William Inge Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award. This select company includes Arthur Miller, Stephen Sondheim, Edward Albee, Wendy Wasserstein, David Henry Hwang, Tina Howe and Neil Simon, to name only a few.
"Arthur Kopit's is an inspirational fixture of the American theatre," said Peter Ellenstein, Inge Center Artistic Director. "Kopit's work impossible to define. His plays and musicals are, by turns, funny, human, challenging, warm, experimental, political, disturbing, witty, constantly surprising and deeply human." Ellenstein said, "He has also served as mentor to scores of younger playwrights. We are thrilled to have such a versatile, universally respected honoree joining us in Independence next year." Kopit will attend the Inge Festival, March 26-29, 2014, and present a writing workshop. At the multi-media Tribute performance, which concludes the festival, Kopit will accept the annual William Inge Theatre Festival's Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award.
Kopit burst on the scene in 1962, while still a college student, with a series of avant-garde absurdist plays that captured the imagination of America's greatest theatre artists. In the subsequent fifty years, Kopit has become one of the most respected and versatile dramatists of our time. A playwrights' playwright, he not only continues to add to his own prolific contribution to the American Theatre, but also nurtures and mentors younger generations of playwrights through his long association with The Lark New Play Development Center in New York City.
Arthur Kopit's repertoire includes: Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad (Vernon Rice Award, Outer Circle Award); Indians (Tony Nominee); Wings (Tony Nominee, Prix Italia for radio version of play); End of the World with Symposium to Follow; a new translation of Ibsen's Ghosts; Road to Nirvana; the book for the musical Nine (Tony Award for Best Musical, 1982); the book for the musical Phantom, based on Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera (music and lyrics by Maury Yeston); and, most recently, the book for High Society, a musical based on Philip Barry's The Philadelphia Story, with music by Cole Porter. Phantom, written prior to the Lloyd Webber version, is currently playing in theaters around the country, and has had long-running successful tours in Germany and Scandinavia. As a writer for television, Kopit's works include the NBC mini-series Hands of a Stranger, the NBC mini-series of his Phantom of the Opera, the CBS mini- series In a Child's Name, and Roswell. Also, various one act plays, including Chamber Music, The Day the Whores Came Out to Play Tennis, Conquest of Everest, The Questioning of Nick, The Hero, Success, and Good Help is Hard to Find.
His current projects include: a new play, BecauseHeCan (formerly entitled Y2K), which had its premiere as part of Actors Theatre of Louisville's annual Humana Festival and was presented in New York by Manhattan Theatre Club and recently at the McCarter Theatre (upcoming productions in Germany and Scandinavia); an original musical, Tom Swift and the Secrets of the Universe, for which he is writing the book, and Maury Yeston the music and lyrics; and a new play, Discovery of America, based on the journals of the Spanish explorer, Cabeza de Vaca. Mr. Kopit is the recipient of numerous awards.
Previously announced playwright, John Patrick Shanley, is unable to attend next year's Festival due to unforeseen conflicts.
Since its founding in 1981, the William Inge Theatre Festival has celebrated the accomplishments of nationally renowned playwrights. Inge, who passed away in 1973, was the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of "Picnic" and Academy Award-winning screenwriter of "Splendor in the Grass."
Major supporters of the William Inge Center for the Arts include the National Endowment for the Arts, the William Inge Festival Foundation, Independence Chamber of Commerce, and its host campus, Independence Community College.
The Inge Festival's setting is the quaint small town of Independence, located in rural southeast Kansas. It is 90 miles north of Tulsa, Okla., and 140 miles south of Kansas City, Mo.
The Inge Festival is sponsored by the William Inge Center for the Arts, a year-round arts center at Independence Community College (ICC). The Inge Center partners with ICC's Fine Arts program to provide a unique blend of professional theatre with academic theatre training. The Center is also proud to be a co-producer of next year's ASTRA summer festival of Theatre and Art, also in Independence, July 3-13, 2014.
ICC is also home to the William Inge Collection, which includes correspondence, original artwork, and some 400 manuscripts, as well as Inge's personal book and record collections. During 2009, seven of the unpublished plays from the Collection were publicly performed for the first time, including one world premiere in New York. The Inge Collection at Independence Community College is the most extensive collection on William Inge in existence, and remains a valuable resource for both theater researchers and admirers of the playwright. The Collection houses about 25 manuscripts by Inge that have not been published.
Thanks primarily to the work of longtime Tribute creator Mike Wood of Wichita State University, the Inge Center has amassed a vast collection of video interviews of America's leading playwrights, composers, actors, directors, producers and other theatre professionals, gathered over the last three decades. A sampling of playwright interviews is available on the website www.ingecenter.org. The rest of the video collection is in the process of being digitally preserved for future generations.