Tony winner Matthew Broderick, Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn, Obie winner Hallie Foote and Golden Globe winner Polly Holliday go into rehearsal Jan. 7 for the world premiere of Pulitzer-winner Horton Foote's rustic drama, The Death of Papa.
It will begin previews Feb. 5 and will open Feb. 8 at the Paul Green Theatre at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
To present this play's launching, PlayMakers Repertory Company postponed its originally scheduled production of Six Characters in Search of an Author. It will directed by Michael Wilson, a UNC graduate who staged the recent WPA Playhouse revival of Tennessee Williams' Red Devil Battery Sign with Elizabeth Ashley.
The Death of Papa is a published, but heretofore unproduced, play that concludes the nine-play series Foote calls "The Orphans' Home Cycle."
Set in the fictional East Texas town of Harrison in 1928, it examines a country family thrown into crisis by their patriarch's death and explores what they do to ensure the future well-being of the clan and their land. Broderick has been seen at various stops in Foote's folksy play cycle--not only Off-Broadway (The Widow Claire) but also on film (1918 and On Valentine's Day). The tragically flawed Brother Vaughn, whom he portrayed on the screen, is the same character that he will play in The Death of Papa.
"I deal with the past a lot," says the author, "but I don't feel nostalgic about it. I think if you can't learn from the past, you're in deep trouble. Every day has its problems, and that's really what I'm trying to show." Foote won Academy Awards in both screenplay categories--Best Adapted Screenplay of 1962 (To Kill a Mockingbird) and Best Original Screenplay of 1983 (Tender Mercies). His Pulitzer Prize arrived in 1995 for The Young Man From Atlanta, which will belatedly get to Broadway's Longacre on March 27. Rip Torn and Shirley Knight will head the cast, under Robert Fall's direction.
The Death of Papa will come before The Young Man From Atlanta gets to Broadway and, with such an impressive cast, could conceivably follow it there.
Milly S. Barranger, the producing director of PlayMakers, commented, "We are excited to have this tremendous opportunity to stage the world premiere of The Death of Papa; with our resident company and distinguished guest artists. We look forward to working with Horton and this eminent cast to bring to our audiences this beautiful play about the ultimate surival of the family."
-- By Harry Haun