The Voice of an American Playwright: Interviews with Horton Foote

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-12-30
  • Publisher: Mercer Univ Pr
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This book establishes that Horton Foote's characters and themes come from Wharton, Texas, a region influenced more by the Deep South than the cowboy tradition of West Texas. But the interviews also establish that such stories are not place-specific. They are universal stories about going away and the eternal search of emotional and spiritual homes. Foote stories are revealed as reflecting the dislocation, loneliness, racial tension, and gender and class divisions of the United States. But he explains that these topics are embedded in his plays and films, not part of a rhetorical approach to writing. He writes in the realist tradition. He was first and last a playwright. Even his work for the Golden Age of television was designed to stage his one-act plays. Key were gifted actors like Kim Stanley, Lillian Gish, Joanne Woodward, James Broderick, Robert Duvall, as well as pioneering television producer Fred Coe and directors like Vincent Donehue and Arthur Penn. Foote also discusses in detail his work in such classic films as To Kill a Mockingbird, Tender Mercies, and The Trip to Bountiful. While film is obviously collaborative, he brought the same approach to theater when working with artists like Vincent Donehue, Herbert Berghof, Peggy Feury, Harris Yulin, James Houghton, and Michael Wilson. This collection describes his belief in independent film, struggles to stage his magnum opus, The Orphans' Home cycle, the crucial role of his wife Lillian as confidante and producer, and all his talented children, including actor Hallie and writer Daisy. Structured chronologically, the book also traces the development of Horton Foote criticism, from biography and local color to celebration of his unique place in American literature as a major writer for television, film, and theater. In every interview Horton Foote demonstrates his kind, engaging, and sensitive view of life and art.

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