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There will be something for everyone at the 38th Annual William Inge Festival

There will be something for everyone at the 38th Annual William Inge Festival

A scene from “Mother Road,” written by Inge Festival Honoree Ocatvio Solis, just opened at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. It is inspired by “The Grapes of Wrath,” with a contemporary twist.

Through plays, novels and film, the story-telling skills of outstanding writers will be showcased at the 38th annual William Inge Theater Festival, the Official Theater Festival of the State of Kansas, running May 22-25, 2019 at Independence Community College.


The festival’s featured honoree is playwright Octavio Solis, one of the nation’s foremost dramatists.


“We are thrilled to recognize and celebrate Octavio Solis, whose work is soulful and poetic,” said Inge Center Producing Director Hannah Joyce-Hoven. “We look forward to welcoming him to Kansas.”


The Inge Festival opens with a free screening of the Disney/Pixar movie “Coco.” Among his many skills as a writer, director and actor, Solis served as cultural consultant to this multi-cultural animated hit and even voiced the role of the Arrivals Agent.


The film starts at 8 p.m. and is preceded at 7 p.m. by activities for kids, including face painting and arts and crafts. Kettle corn and popsicles also will be served. The event will be conducted outdoors at the Community National Bank parking lot, 200 N. Penn Ave. and is sponsored by Kym and Mark Kays at Express Employment Professionals and Todd Young at Bill White Realty. Patrons should bring their own chairs and blankets.


Thursday, May 23, introduces the Inge Festival’s “Otis Guernsey New Voices in the American Theater Award” winner, Kara Lee Corthron. She will join Solis for “An Evening with Authors.”  Solis will read from his latest book of short stories “Retablos,” moving tales from his life growing up on the border in El Paso. Corthron will read from her young adult novel, “The Truth of Right Now,” which is the recipient of the Parents’ Choice Gold Award. Curtain is 7 p.m. at the William Inge Theater at Independence Community College. Admission is $10.


The Inge Festival moves from novels to plays with a staged reading of Corthron’s “What are you Worth?” on Friday, May 24. Featuring professional actors from Kansas City, this time-traveling story follows a group of people as they grapple with the meaning of human value through 800 years of people owning other people, in many iterations. Curtain is 7 p.m., also at the William Inge Theater, and admission is $10.


The final major performance is a multi-media tribute to Solis, created by Inge Festival Associate Producer Chuma Gault. This celebration of Solis’ outstanding work features performers from across the nation in excerpts from many of Solis’ plays. The evening culminates in a presentation of the William Inge Theater Festival Distinguished Achievement in the American Theater Award to Solis. Curtain is 4 p.m. at the William Inge Theater, and admission is $15.


Numerous other events are scheduled throughout the festival, including the New Play Lab, sponsored by the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission.  Twenty-four writers, representing 14 states, have been accepted for this competitive honor in which emerging playwrights have public performance readings of their scripts followed by feedback from artistic directors and playwrights from around the region. Actors from five states in the region will perform in these short plays.


Additional events throughout the week include workshops, conversations both on campus and at the public library and educational opportunities for the public, high school performers and theater lovers. Also planned are numerous social events, including a “picnic” at the Independence Riverside Park and a “Moonglow” party at Glencliff Farm.


Event tickets are available online at or by calling the box office at 620-332-5602.

The William Inge Center for the Arts is part of the 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.