Artists Nationwide to Honor Playwright Solis at the Inge Festival
Artists from across the nation travel to Kansas for the 38th Annual William Inge Theater Festival, to celebrate playwright Octavio Solis, one of this country's leading storytellers of the Hispanic-American experience. Solis will be honored as the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Achievement in American Theater Award.
The Inge Festival takes place in Independence, Kansas, the hometown of Pulitzer and Oscar-winning writer William Inge. The Inge Festival was created to celebrate American Playwrights and is capped off by a tribute performance for the honoree. The tribute, which weaves live scenes and recorded interviews with theater luminaries, is created and directed by Los Angeles-based theater artist, and Inge festival associate producer, Chuma Gault. Gault has been involved with the Inge Festival as a guest artist for much of the last decade. Hannah Joyce-Hoven is the Producing Director of the William Inge Center for the Arts, which produces the Festival that runs May 22-25.
Octavio Solis' storytelling draws on his love of classic theater and the folklore of his Mexican heritage. His plays illuminate characters who long for identity, connection, and search for a place to call home. Solis' most recent play "Mother Road" is currently having a record-breaking run at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival under the direction of artistic director Bill Rauch.
The festival has invited Los Angeles-based actors Yumarie Morales and Xavi Moreno, Minneapolis actors Sean Byrd, Cristina Castro, Alex Barreto Hathaway, and Nora Montañez Patterson to perform in scenes from Solis' award-winning plays. They are joined by Kansas City-based actors Freddy Acevedo, José Faus, and Katie Gilchrist with scene direction by Juliette Carrillo and Mark Valdez.
Additional events include a staged reading of "What Are You Worth" by Kara Lee Corthron, this year's recipient of the Otis Guernsey New Voices in the American Theater Award. The reading is directed by Chip Miller, associate producer at Oregon's Portland Center Stage, with performances by Kansas City actors Ay Vi Bui, Walter Coppage, Khalif Gillett, and Allison Jones. The reading is Friday, May 24th at 7pm.
"An Evening of Authors" on May 23 is the official opening when Corthron will read excerpts from her award-winning novel "The Truth of Right Now" and Solis from his recently published "Retablos: A Life on the Border."
The 4th annual New Play Lab runs the first two days of the Inge Festival. Some 24 playwrights, representing 15 states (including four college students who were awarded scholarships to attend the festival with their work), will have their original scripts read by professional actors, and then receive feedback from some of the Midwest's top theater artists.
Dozens of professional performers, designers, and directors are expected to take part at the Inge Festival. The Festival, which is designated by the Kansas legislature as the Official State Theater Festival, is produced by Independence Community College. Independence, Kansas, is located 140 miles south of Kansas City, Mo. Visit www.ingecenter.org for additional information.
Photo by Susan Simmons