William Inge is another American playwright for whom I have a great deal of respect. He was born in Kansas in 1913 and died in 1973.His body of work is impressive, and like many highly creative people he was often plagued by doubts. When one of his best known plays, Come Back, Little Sheba was in pre-production in New York, he worried that it would not be a success on Broadway.
The play was written while Inge was teaching at Washington University in St. Louis and went on to run on Broadway for 190 performances in 1950, winning Tony Awards for Shirley Booth and Sidney Blackmer. The 1952 film adaptation won both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Shirley Booth.
During his years of teaching in St. Louis, 1946 to 1949, Inge joined Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and it was there he met the wife of one of the members. Her name was Lola and Inge based the character of Lola in Come Back Little Sheba on her.
Many of the plays Inge wrote featured small town life and were set in places in the heartland, and he was often called the “Playwright of the Midwest”. Maybe that is one reason I like his work so much. I am very much a small town girl. Another of his notable plays was Picnic, which earned him a Pulitzer Prize.
Inge wrote two novels, both set in the fictional town of Freedom, Kansas. Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff explores the reactions to a high-school teacher who loses her job because she has an affair with the school’s black janitor. The play was adapted for film in 1979, and the movie starred Anne Heywood as Evelyn Wyckoff. I have not read the book or seen the movie, but it sounds like a story I would enjoy. I do like exploring social issues.
During the early 1970s, Inge lived in Los Angeles and taught playwriting at the Irvine campus of the University of California. His later works were not as successful as his earlier ones and he became severely depressed, worried that he would never be able to write well again. He committed suicide at the age of 60.
In reading about Inge, I found that there is a book available, Four Plays, a collection of some of his better known work. Guess what is on my wish list.
On another note – Last year about this time, I participated in the blog tour for Marney Makridakis’ best selling book Creating Time. It features ways to manage time in fun and creative ways and I enjoyed the book very much. Now we’re all celebrating the one year anniversary with a fabulously fun teleclass event on Thursday, April 18 called “Time Tango 2013”. Best of all, it’s my kind of price: free! Sign up Here