What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

William Inge Theater Festival Honors Playwrights

The William Inge Theater Festival started on Monday in the small town of Independence, Kansas. The festival has honored America's great playwrights for the past twenty-five years.

Read the Full Transcript

  • THEATER PERFORMER (singing):

    New York, New York, a visitors' place, where no one lives on account of the pace, but seven millions are screaming for space, New York, New York…

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    For one week a year, a small town in southeastern Kansas makes itself the center of the theater world.

  • THEATER PERFORMER:

    As for "New York, New York," it is still a hell of a town, but then so is Independence, Kansas.

  • THEATER PERFORMER:

    This is the life.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    The William Inge Theater Festival has plenty of drama…

  • THEATER PERFORMER:

    He died.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    … and song…

  • THEATER PERFORMER:

    Maybe this time I'll be lucky…

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    … but most striking, at least at first, is just how completely unexpected it is.

    When you think of American theater, Independence, Kansas might not be the first place that springs to mind. This is way off-Broadway. But here a small community and a big idea have come together to produce a 25-year-old hit, a festival that honors the nation's playwrights.

  • Arts:

    PETER ELLENSTEIN, Artistic Director, Inge Center for the It is odd. It's totally incongruous. It's something you would never expect to find in a small, rural, Kansas town.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    The key, says Los Angeles native, Peter Ellenstein, the festival's artistic director, is the mix of people and the focus on the writers.

  • PETER ELLENSTEIN:

    Playwrights are the smartest people in the American theater. They are the people who allow us, through their storytelling, to experience more what it is to be a human, and to grow, and to feel more sensitive, and finally to feel more alive.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Many giants of the American stage have journeyed to Independence to celebrate and be celebrated: Arthur Miller, Neil Simon, Stephen Sondheim, Wendy Wasserstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Greene.

  • THEATER PERFORMERS (singing):

    We will laugh out loud. We're so lucky to be we.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Here their works are performed, their craft dissected and discussed by nationally known professionals and scholars, as well as local thespians and theater-goers.

The Latest