People's Light & Theatre presents the Philadelphia premiere of Horton Foote's Dividing the Estate. It runs May 11 - June 5, 2011 on the Main Stage. Artistic Director AbiGail Adams directs. People's Light & Theatre is located at 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, PA 19355. For tickets call 610.644.3500 or visit PeoplesLight.org. Dividing the Estate has been supported by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Philadelphia Theatre Initiative. Additional support has been provided by the Charlotte Cushman Foundation in memory of former Foundation Trustee Norma Testardi Egendorf Pomerantz.
Dividing the Estate is set in Harrison, Texas (based on Foote's hometown of Wharton). It is 1987, the height of the oil recession, a time in Texas when banks failed, real estate tanked, people lost their jobs, and communities fell apart. The Gordon family doesn't know how to make ends meet. They are land rich, but cash poor. A crisis in the family forces these self-absorbed, endearingly dysfunctional brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and servants to agree on a course of action to steady what looks like a very uncertain future.
"I first met Horton Foote in 1989 while preparing to produce his play The Traveling Lady here at People's Light," Director AbiGail Adams begins. "I wrote to him with questions. He responded with an invitation to visit him and his wife, Lillian, in Wharton, Texas. Carla Belver, who played Clara in The Traveling Lady and now plays Stella in Dividing the Estate, came with me."
"Our visit began with a tour. Horton wore a double breasted blazer and a silk ascot despite unbelievable heat. I nearly melted; he remained dapper and cool. He took us first to the once busy town square, now eerily empty, then to the well-maintained country club; we saw the abandoned railroad station, the ruined cotton gin, and finally the graveyard. There we walked from stone to stone as Horton told stories about the people buried under our feet. He was a great listener, especially sensitive to what was said underneath the words-the violence, the sorrow, the joy, and the deeply strange peculiarity of family life."
She continues, "Now, more than 20 years later as I prepare for Dividing the Estate, I think a lot about that trip, how remarkable it was-low key, but huge. Rather like Horton's plays."
"Dividing the Estate speaks to all of us on some level. Everyone has a story to tell about a family home-how the property was divided, who got left what-the arguments, betrayals, surprises. A story about how a grandparent, a parent, an uncle, an aunt or a cousin left this world and how those who remained either stuck together or fell apart. Horton Foote brings an unsentimental largeness of heart to the Gordon version of that universal saga. This is the kind of work I like to do best."
Dividing the Estate previews on Wednesday, May 11th and Thursday, May 12th at 7:30pm. The play opens on Friday, May 13th at 8pm and runs through Sunday, June 5th. Audiences are encouraged to join the artists after each Thursday evening performance to discuss the production.
Single tickets range in price from $25 - $45. For tickets, call the box office at 610.644.3500. Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For more information or to purchase group tickets, call 610.647.1900 x134 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Actors, prices, performances dates and times are subject to change. Additional service charges may apply. Contact the box office for more details.
FREE EVENT INFORMATION
A Conversation About Horton Foote
With the Wall Street Journal's Terry Teachout and People's Light's Artistic Director AbiGail Adams
Sunday, April 10th, 6pm
Join us to hear Wall Street Journal's Theatre Critic Terry Teachout and Artistic Director AbiGail Adams discuss Dividing the Estate and one of America's greatest playwrights, Horton Foote.
Choosing Conservation in the 21st Century: An Evening with Natural Lands Trust
Monday, May 16th, 7pm