Thursday, March 25, 2010
The Carpetbagger's Children, staged in 2005, was the penultimate of the Texas playwright's dramas, the next-to-the-last of from 40 (according to Wikipedia) to more than 60 (according to the New York Times). Like many of his dramas, it is set in the mythical town of Harrison, Texas, based on his birthplace Wharton, a crossroads southwest of Houston. Foote's final play was, aptly enough, a reworking of his earlier Dividing The Estate. He died last year at the age of 92. With Foote's previous consent, the Austin-based Marchbanks Foundation has established a $30,000 prize to recognize new American plays of exceptional quality, to be awarded every other year.
Well and good, one might say, and it's appropriate that Norman Blumensaadt and Different Stages should honor the playwright. Robert Faires pointed out last January in the Austin Chronicle the incongruity that this staging is only the fourth time in the past 20 years that Austin has seen a production of Foote's work.
That means I've seen half of them. As it happened, while traveling through Austin in 1998, well before imagining our own migration to this town, my daughter and I attended Don Toner's production of The Young Man from Atlanta at the State Theatre. That work, and the fact that a mainstream Austin theatre would do an elegant and deeply felt production of it, lingered in my memory. They shaped my perception of Central Texas and of Austin.
Read more at AustinLiveTheatre.com . . .