Plays By Carlyle Brown Focus Of William Inge Theater Festival

Plays By Carlyle Brown Focus Of William Inge Theater FestivalThree evenings of the William Inge Theater Festival, May 9-12, will explore the career and works of Carlyle Brown, including a multi-media tribute to the writer's achievements.

The 37th Annual Inge Festival-designated by the state legislature as the Official Theater Festival of Kansas-takes place in the small town of Independence, southeast Kansas, at Independence Community College.

"Carlyle Brown's fascinating body of work is highly worthy as one of the outstanding achievements by contemporary American Playwrights, said interim Artistic Director Eric Rutherford. "There is no better way to celebrate a playwright than to see his plays, and we are proud to feature Mr. Brown's work so prominently."

The William Inge Theater Festival opening night, Wednesday, May 9, with a staged reading of Brown's poetic drama "Are you now or have you ever been..." This story envisions the demons and dilemmas facing the writer Langston Hughes just before he appeared at the McCarthy hearings. Curtain is 7:30 p.m. at the William Inge Theater at Independence Community College.

Friday, May 11, is a fully produced play "Down in Mississippi." During the "Freedom Summer" of 1964 campaign to register African-Americans to voters, three young civil rights activists discover that before they can change the world, they will have to change themselves. This play by Carlyle Brown is a celebration of a movement that gave birth to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voter's Rights Act of 1965. Curtain is 7:30 p.m., also at the William Inge Theater.

The third evening of works by Carlyle Brown is the multi-media Tribute, on Saturday, May 12. The Tribute, as it has for all previous 36 years, the Inge Festival Tribute celebrates the outstanding career and impact of a nationally renowned playwright. The climax is the presentation of the William Inge Theater Festival Distinguished Achievement in the American Theater Award to Mr. Brown. Curtain is 7:30 p.m. at the William Inge Theater.

The Festival also recognizes the legacy of its namesake writer during "An Evening with Mr. Inge" on Thursday, May 10. The performance features scenes from selected Inge plays with context by Inge biographer Ralph Voss. Curtain is 7:30 p.m.

The four-day festival includes a New Play Lab, in which emerging playwrights have critiques of their scripts; workshops and educational panels for the public and high school theater youth, and numerous social events, including, of course, a "picnic" at the Independence Riverside Park.

Tickets go on sale April 2 at Ticket prices range from $5 to $20, pending event.

The William Inge Center for the Arts is part of the proud traditions of Independence Community College. The Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission is a partner with the Inge Festival New Play Lab. The Inge Center is also supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, as well as the William Inge Festival Foundation.

Photo: 2018 William Inge Theater Festival honoree, playwright Carlyle Brown. Photo by: Courtney Perry

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