Monday, July 5, 2010
Hometown Heroes: William Inge
This summer as promised we have spent many hours in my house researching some of our hometown heroes. The kids are a little skeptical about posting all their findings as of yet, so I told them I would go first. I from the southeast corner of Kansas. I lived in Cherryvale, but born in Independence. There will be several people I will introduce to you from that neck of the woods. Of course with my heroes I had to also have a group of villains; people that will ultimately be the subject of my next big project!
Anyway on to heroes for now! One of the most influential heroes to come out of Independence was the playwright, William Inge. He wrote a number of scripts that were set in the background of our Midwest home. He wrote such great works as Picnic, Dark at the Top of the Stairs, Bus Stop(starring Marilyn Monroe) and Splendor in the Grass(starring Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty). Not to mention winning an Academy Award for which I will eternally be jealous of. He is who every young writer is compared to in a 30 mile radius. Years ago I wrote a research paper about him and I would like to share pieces of it with you. Feel free to google some of the highlights as it will give you an even more in depth look at myself. But first here is the introduction that I wrote for the piece itself.
Excerpt from The Son of Independence:
A Note About the Author:
I grew up near the town of Independence, Kansas. An experience that has left me with three strong remembrances: Neewollah, theater, and William Inge. As a young person interested in the lime light of theatre, William Inge was an unavoidable subject. His impressions on the theatrical life remains there still influencing generations of today.
In the beginning of this project, I felt as if I had taken on the spirit of Independence itself and in some way I believed that by writing about Inge in some way I was preserving it. Throughout the progress of this paper, I have found it hard not to insert my own opinions or beliefs. It is difficult not to add a "I know what he is talking about," when Mr. Inge describes the atmosphere of our home. And most of all it is so hard for me to refer to him as Mr. Inge instead of his hometown reference of Billy.
It's not odd that Inge's theatrical influence is still thick in Independence. It is not unlikely for actors preparing for the evening show at Independence Community College to go and rub the bust of Inge for luck. There are a select group of actors that even spend the afternoon talking to it. Maybe, what they are trying to do is capture a little of that Inge magic. It's not uncommon for a successful student writer to be referred to as the next William Inge. He's everywhere...and as a theatrical student, I'll admit jealousy has struck me more than once. He's left big shoes for us to fill. I only hope that in my work with the theater and writing that I strive to capture the essence of people the way that Billy did and if something big happens, I hope that I remain as humble.
Big people come from small towns.-William Inge