William Inge Theater Festival Kicks Off with New Voices Award Winner Lauren Gunderson

Acclaimed playwright Lauren Gunderson will be honored at the 36th William Inge Theater Festival as the Otis Guernsey New Voices Award winner. The festival, which takes place every spring in Independence, Kansas, will celebrate her achievements during the four-day event happening April 19th - 22nd, 2017. Gunderson joins a growing list of special guests at this year's festival including Tony Award-nominee Mia Dillon, Golden Globe Award-winner Keir Dullea, and festival honoree and Academy Award-nominee Beth Henley.

The New Voices Award is peer-nominated and reviewed by a panel of nationally accomplished theater professionals. As the Otis Guernsey New Voices winner, Gunderson will present a premiere concert reading of her new play, "Ada and the Engine." The reading will be presented at the William Inge Theater on Thursday, April 20th. The event will feature a cast of professional and special guests, and will be followed by an award ceremony.

"Receiving the Otis Guernsey award is such a moving honor for me," Lauren Gunderson said, "The people who have been recognized with the Guernsey Award in the past are visionaries in the field and I can only begin to describe the compliment of being now among them. Thank you to the William Inge Center for the Arts for all your do for plays and playwrights."

Lauren M. Gunderson adds the Otis Guernsey award to her growing list of achievements that also includes winning the Lanford Wilson Award and the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award, as well as being a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and John Gassner Award for Playwriting, and a recipient of the Mellon Foundation's 3-Year Residency with Marin Theatre Company. Her work has been commissioned, produced and developed at prestigious companies including The Kennedy Center, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The O'Neill, The Denver Center, San Francisco Playhouse and more. She co-authored "Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley" with Margot Melcon.

"It is an honor to welcome Lauren Gunderson to the Festival as our New Voices winner," said Karen Carpenter, Artistic Director of the Inge Festival. "Her work is already shaping theatrical seasons across America. She has won the respect of her peers and audiences alike."

Gunderson is the most produced living playwright in America of the 2016/17 season. She joins a line of lauded recipients of the New Voices Award including Tony Award-winner Joe DiPietro, Olivier Award-winner Katori Hall, Adam Bock, JT Rogers, and Theresa Rebeck, among others.

The four-day William Inge Theatre Festival features evening performances, a multitude of workshops and topical theater discussions, a Scholar's Conference, and a range of social events. Dozens of esteemed professional theater makers join theater aficionados and participants alike in a celebration of the art of theater.


Ticket Bundles are available at www.ingecenter.org/tickets. Individual event tickets and ticket packages for this year will be available through the Inge Center website and The Inge Center Box Office by calling (620) 332-5491.


The small town of Independence, on the Kansas prairie, welcomes America's premier playwrights at the William Inge Theater Festival. Pulitzer Prize winning writer Beth Henley joins the roster of previous Festival Honorees, such as Arthur Miller, Neil Simon, Paula Vogel, and August Wilson-who have all traveled to this heartland community 140 miles south of Kansas City.

The Inge Festival culminates in a multi-media Tribute to the Honoree, as the center piece of more than a hundred readings, performances, and workshops, for patrons from more than 15 states every spring in its 36-year history.

The William Inge Theater Festival is named for native son, Academy Award and Pulitzer prize-winning playwright William Inge, and is the Official Theater Festival of the State of Kansas.

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