Books, a radio play, and remembering a Kentucky playwright

BY BILL McCANN

Sun Columnist

Our Clark County Public Library on  South Burns Avenue is wonderful. It has helped me get through this pandemic in good spirits with lots to read. But I have also made use of the free Little Library that sits atop a pole in College Park.

In the confines of that small space, about a foot square, have been books such as Abi Dare’s “The Louding Girl,” several by John Grisham, “Wedding Treasure” by David Williams and a variety of spy  novels, my favorites. Current selections include books for both children and adults.

 The county’s library is working towards fully reopening to patrons in future weeks, but on those occasions when you simply must have a book and the public library is not open take a drive over to the gym in College Park and pick out a book. Later, take that one back and ‘check out’ another.

Limestone 1833

A musical radio play called “Limestone 1833,” written by Adanma Onyedike Barton, Margo Buchanan and Kevin Lane Dearinger, with sound design by Samuel Lockridge will be broadcast on 91.3 WUKY at 8 p.m. Monday, March 22, and at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 28.

Sponsored by AthensWest Theatre and WUKY, the musical, based on a book by local author Terry Foody, is about  the 1833 cholera pandemic. “Limestone: 1833” focuses on two of that crisis’s unlikely heroes, town drunk William “King” Solomon, and “Aunt Charlotte,” a formerly enslaved pie-seller.

According to information provided by AthensWest, “the Black Aunt Charlotte ‘purchased’ the white Solomon at the Cheapside slave market, as he’d been put up as an indentured servant to pay his debts. Shortly thereafter, the cholera epidemic struck, taking an enormous and deadly toll.  Charlotte and William, standing together at this crucial historical crossroads, are the perfect team to show how the best of us can inspire and lead the rest of us.”

The cast features Daniel Sandfelder, Ben Sandfelder, Meredith Frankie Crutcher, Patrick Mitchell, Erik Moth, Jace Peters-White, Joe Gatton, Walter Tunis, Tim X. Davis, Karyn Czar, Emily Norris, Lyndsey Pennington, Kevin Hardesty, Julie Klier, Shayne Brakefield, Marianne Miller, Amoni Adair and Mark Mozingo.

In memoriam

Jim Inman, of Palm Springs, California, a cousin on my mother’s side, died Jan. 8 at age 89. I mention this because he was extraordinary person, a playwright, a screenwriter, an actor and mentor to me, who should not go unmourned even as, because of Covid, there will be no service.

Jim started his entertainment career in Lexington in 1955 when as a University of Kentucky senior, he directed, wrote and produced that community’s first Easter Pageant  which according to the Kentucky Kernel had “a cast of 500” and an at-capacity audience in Memorial Coliseum;  indeed,  “2,000 were turned away at the door.”

From Lexington, with the help of Wallace Briggs of the UK Theatre Department, Jim went first to Yale Drama School,  and later to New York and Hollywood. In New York he played the lead in “The Boyfriend,” before its 1970 revival went to Broadway.

In Hollywood, Jim had a featured role in Frank Sinatra’s “The Detective” (1968) before becoming a playwright and screenwriter. He wrote for “Dallas,” “Romance Theatre” and several After School Specials, two of which were nominated for Daytime Emmy awards.

As a playwright two of Inman’s plays were produced in Los Angeles.“Two Ole Codgers Sittin’ on a Bench, in a County Seat, Town Square” was a one-act produced in May 1994. His full-length play “Appearances to the Contrary” was produced in  October 2000 to critical acclaim and starred Susan Clark (Webster).

In 2012, a third play, “The Room,” won the Kentucky Theatre Association’s Roots of the Bluegrass New Play Contest for full-length works.

Several of Inman’s plays, including “The Room” and “Appearances to the Contrary,” are included in the catalog of Heartland Plays (playsnow.org).

Bill McCann is a playwright, poet, flash fiction writer and teacher who writes about arts events and personalities. He can be reached at wmccann273@gmail.com.