Mat Smart Wins 2014 William Inge Theatre Festival's New Voices in the American Theatre Award

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Mat Smart Wins 2014 William Inge Theatre Festival's New Voices in the American Theatre Award

Playwright Mat Smart is winner of the 2014 William Inge Theatre Festival's Otis Guernsey New Voices in the American Theatre Award, which recognizes emerging writers who are helping shape contemporary theater.

It is named for the late Otis L. Guernsey, respected critic and scholar who was a champion of new plays, and a longtime attendee and advocate of the Inge Festival.

Smart will be presented with the Award at the 33rd annual Inge Festival, March 26-29, at Independence Community College in Independence, Kansas. The Festival's namesake is William Inge, an Independence native who won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (Picnic) and Oscar for Best Screenplay (Splendor in the Grass.)

Inge Festival audiences will be the first public audience to enjoy a presentation of The Great Barrier, Smart's newest work, on Thurs. March 27, at 7:30 p.m. The Great Barrier follows a father and son's trip to Australia and the Great Barrier Reef. As Henry and Hal try to break down the walls between them, they vie for the attention of their mysterious guide - an Australian woman named Charlotte. It is directed by Ron OJ Parson and stars Hawthorne James, Chuma Gault and Kate LoConti.

The Otis Guernsey New Voices in the American Theatre Award recipient is selected by a panel comprised of past New Voices winners and other theatre professionals.

"We're thrilled to present Mat's unique perspectives to Independence and our Inge Festival audiences," said William Inge Center for the Arts Artistic Director Peter Ellenstein, "It is thrilling to share America's finest younger talent with Independence."

Mat Smart is the recipient of two Jerome Fellowships and a McKnight Advancement Grant from the Playwrights' Center. His plays include: Tinker to Evers to Chance (premiering at Geva in May 2014), The Steadfast (published by Dramatic Play Service), Samuel J. and K. (Williamstown Theatre Festival, Steppenwolf and Passage Theatre), and The Hopper Collection (Magic Theatre and Huntington Theatre Company).

Arthur Kopit is the Honoree and will accept the William Inge Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award at the festival's Tribute to his work.

Tickets and more information are available at www.ingecenter.org.

Major supporters of the Inge Festival include Independence Community College, the William Inge Festival Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes a great nation deserves great art.

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