September 3–8, 10–15 + 17–22, 2019
Precarious sobriety: poignant and potent with humor to spare, the quietness of quiet desperation explodes the claustrophobic lives of Lola and Doc. Inge’s 1950 classic comes alive amid outsider art in The Bethany Mission Gallery, illustrating how the pursuit of primal instincts derails and illuminates everyday lives.
$15–$28 / 100 minutes
Founded in 2006, the Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium (IRC) is the only theater company in the nation dedicated solely to the production, preservation, and study of absurdist drama. The IRC’s mission and signature style has repeatedly earned the company the title “absurdist masters.” The poignancy of repression defining a Midwestern marriage in crisis provides the undercurrent for William Inge’s resilient 1950 classic Come Back, Little Sheba. The pursuit of primal instincts and how they derail everyday lives frames the 1950 play—Inge’s first—written while he was a teacher at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. “…an old house in one of those semi-respectable neighborhoods in a Midwestern city …” is the setting for Come Back, Little Sheba.
The humor and psychological undercurrent of Inge’s classic will come to life amidst over two hundred works of outsider art including drawings & paintings by James Castle, Sam Doyle, Howard Finster, William Hawkins, Martin Ramirez, Bill Traylor and George Widener. Modern renovations to the 1869 Quaker meeting house were completed in February 2012 to accommodate and display the internationally-recognized collection, which also features objects including radios, antique metal toys and milk glass. The gallery will be open to the public one hour prior and following each performance. The Bethany Mission Gallery was the setting for the IRC’s critically-recognized 2018 Fringe production of Tennessee Williams’ The Eccentricities of a Nightingale, and their 2017 production of Eugene Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano.
History of the Play
Come Back, Little Sheba premiered on Broadway at the Booth Theatre on February 15, 1950. The cast included Shirley Booth as Lola, Sidney Blackmer as Doc, and Joan Lorring as Marie. Booth won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play and Blackmer won Best Actor. Reprising her Broadway role, Booth starred opposite Burt Lancaster as Doc and Terry Moore as Marie in a 1952 film adaptation. Booth won both the 1953 Best Actress Academy award and Best Actress – Drama Golden Globe for her portrayal of Lola. William Inge, (born May 3, 1913, Independence, KS—died June 10, 1973, Hollywood Hills, CA) was an American playwright best known for his plays Come Back, Little Sheba (1950; filmed 1952); Picnic (1953; filmed 1956), for which he won a Pulitzer Prize; and Bus Stop (1955; filmed 1956). Inge was educated at the University of Kansas at Lawrence and at the George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, Tennessee.