A Taste of The Roads to Home

Please enjoy these highlights reels from The Roads to Home! 

A Nightingale

 The Dearest of Friends

 Spring Dance

The Primary Stages production of The Roads to Home runs through November 27, 2016 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Visit the Primary Stages website for tickets and more info.

The Roads to Home Production Photos

Enjoy looking through the production photos for Horton Foote’s The Roads to Home, featuring Devon Abner, Dan Bittner, Rebecca Brooksher, Harriet Harris, Hallie Foote, and Matt Sullivan.  In these photos, you can see Michael Wilson’s staging, David C. Woolard’s costumes,  and Jeff Cowie’s scenic design, which is illuminated by David Lander’s lighting design.

All photographs by James Leynse

The Primary Stages production of The Roads to Home runs September 14- November 27, 2016 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Visit the Primary Stages website for tickets and more info.

A Note from the Artistic Team of The Roads to Home

With this production of The Roads to Home we celebrate Horton Foote’s centennial. Horton was a major American dramatist and Primary Stages had the great fortune of working directly with him on his plays Dividing the Estate (which we moved with Lincoln Center Theatre to Broadway) and The Day Emily Married. Horton also directed When They Speak of Rita by Daisy Foote for us and we produced his Harrison, TX, directed by Pam McKinnon, in 2012.

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The company and producers on the Opening Night of the Primary Stages production of Horton Foote’s The Roads to Home.

Horton was instrumental in fostering a sense home at Primary. He created work that
chronicled the American home, shared his actual family with us, and employed his
infectious charm and generosity wherever he went. When he was with us, he attended
almost every performance, always sitting in the same seat. At intermission, audience
members would line up to share a word with him, often extending the break, much to the
chagrin of our house manager, but to the delight of Horton and everyone else in the room.

Although Horton is no longer with us, the feeling of home he created lives on, through
his plays, his family, and of course you, the audiences who so love and support his
work. Horton’s plays are the gold standard of what American playwriting can be and we
are honored to be an enduring home for Horton’s plays, family, and legacy. As Horton’s
characters discover, home can be a place, a memory, a longing, a person, a family, or
even an idea. In the theater, we are lucky. We get to create homes of people, of stories,
and of places we love on stage night after night, season after season. We thank you,
our adventuresome audience, for sharing our enthusiasm for new American plays and
playwrights and for being part of the Primary family.

casey-andrew-shane

The Primary Stages production of The Roads to Home runs September 14- November 27, 2016 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Visit the Primary Stages website for tickets and more info.

 

Understanding the World of Horton Foote Part 3: Mental Healthcare in the 1920s

This is the conclusion of a 3-part series written by Chris Baker, the dramaturg for the Primary Stages production of The Roads to Home by Horton Foote. The dramaturg is responsible, in part, for researching the world of the play and providing background and historical context for the creative team. We’ve asked Chris Baker to share some of his fascinating research here on our blog. If you missed Part 1: Performance History, click here. For Part 2: Texas in the 1920s, click here

AUSTIN STATE HOSPITAL

Formerly the Texas State Lunatic Asylum

The asylum movement in the United States and Europe reflected the belief that people diagnosed with mental ailments could regain their sanity in an idealized environment free from the stress of everyday life. Asylums strived to provide a healthy diet, exercise, fresh air, adequate rest, a strict daily routine, social contact, and a kind but firm approach. This humanitarian philosophy marked a vast leap forward from earlier theories that mental illness stemmed from demonic possession and prescribed treatments such as flogging and cold water to drive out the demons.

Texas modeled its asylum after an innovative program developed in Philadelphia by Dr. Thomas Kirkbride. The Philadelphia maverick had pioneered new, progressive treatments for the mentally insane, including behavior modification, drug therapy, and an unrestrictive environment.

texas-asylum

Postcard of Texas State Insane Asylum, 1920s.

The original building, which was dressed up with a classical portico in 1904, offered three stories and a basement for administrative offices and staff and patient quarters. Its thick, hard plaster walls could endure frequent scrubbing and the thick limestone walls and high ceilings offered relief from the Texas heat. Noisy patients were separated from quiet ones, and all patients lived above ground in rooms with at least one window. As the patient population grew from the initial 12 patients to nearly 700 by the late 1890’s, additional wings and buildings sprang up. The asylum functioned as a self-supporting village with artesian wells, gardens, a dairy, ice factory, and a sewing/tailor shop. These other historic structures were eventually destroyed by fire or demolished to make way for newer buildings.

Early residents of Hyde Park were drawn to the expansive landscaped asylum grounds, taking carriage rides on the 700 yards of graveled drives and enjoying picnics under the live oak trees and along the banks of lily ponds. Children of the era explored the Japanese-style gardens and paddled small boats to the tiny islands dotting the large lake on the southeastern corner of the property.

Taken from Texas Department of State Health Services

 

The Primary Stages production of The Roads to Home runs September 14- November 6, 2016 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Visit the Primary Stages website for tickets and more info.

Understanding the World of Horton Foote Part 2: Texas in the 1920s

This is a continuation of a 3-part series written by Chris Baker, the dramaturg for the Primary Stages production of The Roads to Home by Horton Foote. The dramaturg is responsible, in part, for researching the world of the play and providing background and historical context for the creative team. We’ve asked Chris Baker to share some of his fascinating research here on our blog. If you missed Part 1: Performance History, click here. Keep an eye out for Part 3! 

HOUSTON, TEXAS in the 1920s

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Streetcar in Downtown Houston, 1920s

“My grandmother Cleveland lived in a two-story green frame house on McGowen Street in Houston.  Streetcar tracks ran in front of her house and on the corner was a drugstore.  Across the street was St Paul’s Methodist Church and next to that, a large brick mansion where my grandmother Cleveland said lived a distant relative of my grandmother Brooks….My grandmother often took me downtown on the street car, where we would have lunch or go to  the picture show.”

Horton Foote, Farewell

A Growing City

Houston in the 1920s was a fast-growing city, drawing more and more people to its mix of corporate headquarters, fancy hotels, new asphalt, old dirt roads, housing developments, flooding bayous, politicians, cotton traders, speculators, oilmen and con men.  Department stores such as Munn’s drew shoppers from across Texas and Louisiana. Houstonians got around the city on 25 different streetcar lines.  By 1930, Houston was the 26th largest city in the U.S. with a population of 292,000, and the 3rd largest Southern city after New Orleans and Louisville.

Economics

A loaf of bread cost about 9 cents and pound of butter about 55 cents.  Appliances were fairly inexpensive, but electronics fairly pricey.  Automobiles—which could be purchased for anywhere between $250 for a Ford Roundabout to $1800 for a luxury car—were in high demand. While the country was restricting immigration of Arabs, Asians, and some Europeans, no limits were set for Latin American immigration, in large part because Texas relied on immigrants to farm the cotton, sugar and other crops vital to its economy.

downtown-houston-1927

Downtown Houston, 1927. Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries.

Politics

In 1928, Houston hosted the Democratic convention, eager to take its place as an important political center.  New York Governor Al Smith was nominated, much to the dismay of the Texas delegation, which, partly influenced by the Klan, could not brook a Catholic nominee. (Smith lost the election to Herbert Hoover.)  After WWI, the size and influence of the Klan grew in Texas, reaching its peak in the mid-1920s, but falling off by the end of the decade.

HARRISON, TEXAS

The fictional setting for many of Horton Foote’s plays, Harrison is based on Wharton, the town where Foote was born.  It is 45 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, and 59 miles southeast of Houston.

“I suppose it is oversimplification that you write about what you know. I’ve never really analyzed it. It’s a very mysterious process, this finding what you want to write about and how it appears and how it urges you to finish it and to go through all the pain. But I think essentially I’ve always known that the search will always take me back here to Wharton, Texas, at least for the place. I’ve just never had a desire to write about any place else. I’ve tried to write about New York, where I’ve spent a great deal of my time, and the work just doesn’t have the same ring of authenticity as when I write about here. Of course, I call my town Harrison, not Wharton. But you know it’s based on my experiences here, things I’ve observed and grown up with.”

Horton Foote, Conversations with Texas Writers, edited by Frances Leonard and Ramona Cearley, The University of Texas Press

“I left my home in Wharton at sixteen, but no matter how poor, and I was often very poor, I always managed to return for a visit at least once a year, and whenever I met with friends or relatives on those visits we inevitably got around to: “Do you remember when,” or “I wonder whatever happened to…”

Horton Foote, Farewell

THE RAILWAY

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Southern Pacific Train Depot, Wharton

The railroad was the harbinger of the new industrial age. Until 1881, no railroad passed through the town [Wharton]. After its arrival, the growth in population proceeded apace.  In that year, the New York, Texas, and Mexican Railway laid a line from Richmond to Victoria, with a station in Wharton and many stops along the way.  The Southern Pacific Railroad, after buying many smaller lines in Texas, had a depot in Wharton by 1905. Railroad employees were envied in Wharton, not least because they received coveted free passes on the trains.  The railroad line permitted Whartonians to reach Houston easily.

Charles Watson. Horton Foote: A Literary Biography

“We got up a four in the morning to catch the five o’clock train to Houston. We arrived in Houston at seven-thirty, had breakfast and went to the morning show at the Kirby, had dinner, went to the Metropolitan in the afternoon, had supper and went to the Majestic that night, getting out at nine o’clock and catching the night train back to Wharton.”

Horton Foote, Farewell

 

The Primary Stages production of The Roads to Home runs through November 6, 2016 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Visit the Primary Stages website for tickets and more info.

Understanding The World of Horton Foote Part 1: Performance History

Today we kick off a 3-part series written by Chris Baker, the dramaturg for the Primary Stages production of The Roads to Home by Horton Foote. The dramaturg is responsible, in part, for researching the world of the play and providing background and historical context for the creative team. We’ve asked Chris Baker to share some of his fascinating research  here on our blog. We’ll be back with parts 2 and 3 of this series in the coming weeks. Enjoy! 

The Roads to Home

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Horton Foote, by Keith Carter

Premiering in 1982, Horton Foote’s The Roads to Home is made up of three interconnecting parts—A Nightingale, The Dearest of Friends, and A Spring Dance—set in the 1920s.  The first two take place in Houston, the third in Austin.  Another location—Harrison, Texas—is present in the play through the stories, recollections, and longings of the characters.

The Premiere of The Roads to Home

The Roads to Home premiered in March 1982 at Manhattan’s Punch Line Theatre in New York. Directed by Calvin Skaggs, the cast included Hallie Foote as Annie Gayle. Describing the production as “almost a Southern Gothic comedy,” The New York Times’ John Corry observed that “people are askew – not mightily, but almost parenthetically, tilting, so to speak, coming together at odd angles that aren’t quite the proper angles.”

The 1992 revival

The play was revived ten years later at the Lamb’s Theatre under Horton Foote’s direction featuring Jean Stapleton and Hallie Foote, once again, as Annie Gayle. The production led Frank Rich of the New York Times to write: “Any list of America’s living literary wonders must include Horton Foote… just when the audience is set to relax into an elegiac reverie that might resemble nostalgia, the playwright finds a way to make his characters’ inner turmoil so ferociously vivid it leaps beyond their specific time and place to become our own.”  He singled out Hallie Foote’s performance as “transporting.”

The revival sparked a kind of renaissance for the playwright, particularly in New York.  Productions at Primary Stages and Signature Theatre would follow, and one of those plays, The Young Man from Atlanta, would earn Foote a Pulitzer Prize.  That play, along with Primary Stages’ production of Dividing the Estate, would bring Foote back to Broadway after a 40-year hiatus.  Michael Wilson, director of the current production, saw that 1992 revival.  Five years later, Wilson would direct The Death of Papa, one of Foote’s The Orphans’ Home Cycle plays, at Playmakers Repertory Theater in North Carolina.  It would mark the beginning of an important collaboration between Wilson and Foote.

Foote on The Roads to Home 

In Blessed Assurance: The Life and Art of Horton Foote , Marion Castleberry describes the women of the play as “refugees of small towns” who are trying to get home.  “They don’t do that consciously,” said Foote, “but they constantly find ways to refer to or think about the places they came from. They spend their time trying to reconstruct their past lives. It’s a variation on a theme.”

 

The Primary Stages production of The Roads to Home runs through November 6, 2016 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Visit the Primary Stages website for tickets and more info.

 

Meet the 2016 ESPA Drills Writers!

Primary Stages ESPA Drills is an annual new play development program providing extensive workshopping, a public presentation, and advocacy within the theater community for four new plays written at least in part at ESPA. Each June, these plays are selected by blind submission from dozens of submissions for their ambition, voice, imagination, and energy.

MIKE POBLETE

artist-poblete-mikeMike is thrilled to be taking part in Drills. Born in Brooklyn, he has had six full length plays and numerous one acts performed in six countries. His newest play, One Down, will premiere and run the month of August at San Antonio’s Overtime Theatre. He has a Playwriting MFA from Trinity College Dublin and currently works in a Broadway production office.

 

Surfacing by Mike Poblete
Directed by Carolyn Cantor
A bit of advice: don’t open with your botched suicide attempt on a first date.
August 15 at 4pm
RSVP

DANIEL MCCOY

artist-mccoy-daniel

Daniel McCoy is a playwright and performer based in New York City whose plays include Perfect Teeth, Cleave, Rapture2K, Epimythium, Dick Pix, Group, and Eli and Cheryl Jump. His work has been produced and developed at Theaterlab in New York, Simple Machine Theatre in Boston, Source Theatre Festival in Washington D.C., the New York International Fringe Festival, and many other venues. He is a current member of the Project Y Play Group and regular director for the Writopia Lab Worldwide Plays Festival. As an ensemble member of the New York Neo-Futurists, Daniel can be seen writing and performing regularly in Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go BlindDaniel is a graduate of the Rita and Burton Goldberg MFA Playwriting Program at Hunter College.

Rapture2K by Daniel McCoy
Directed by Morgan Gould
The end of the world’s not what it used to be.
August 15 at 7pm  
RSVP

JOSHUA STRAUCH

artist-strauch-joshua

Joshua Strauch hails from Boca Raton, Florida. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and History from Florida State University. He’s also completed training programs in Improvisational Comedy from the iO and Annoyance Theatres in Chicago, Illinois. He is currently a member of the experimental improv troupe Mutual Slayer. Two of his short plays I Hate You, You… and Code Blue have been featured in the Detention short play series through the Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts. He hates, HATES mayonnaise and loves tomatoes. Joshua credits his full head of hair for all of his playwriting abilities. Without his thick, beautiful hair…Joshua would be nothing.

 
The Call Center by Joshua Strauch
Directed by Gregg Wiggans
The telemarketing industry is dying… but so is humanity.
August 16 at 4pm
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STEPHEN BROWN

artist-brown-stephen

Stephen Brown’s work has been developed and received readings by Primary Stages, MCC, Page 73, The Road Theatre, and the Aurora Theatre. He’s been a past winner of the Global Age Project, a finalist for the Juilliard Playwriting Fellowship, and a semi-finalist for the O’Neill, PlayPenn, and the P73 Fellowship. He was a member of Page 73’s playwriting group I-73 and has had residencies with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and SPACE on Ryder Farm. He is a founding member of the famous Nighthawks Dance Crew.

Montgomery by Stephen Brown
Directed by Suzanne Agins
When you don’t have a license but you do have a vengeance, kidnapping country music singers is easier than you’d think.
August 16 at 7pm
RSVP