Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Foote died in Hartford, CT, on March 4 while putting the finishing touches on this new adaptation of The Orphans' Home Cycle, made up of plays he wrote earlier in his career. Hartford Stage artistic director Michael Wilson will direct the collection of plays, to run Aug. 27-Oct. 17. The plays will then play the Off-Broadway home of the Signature Theatre Company, Oct. 29, 2009-April 11, 2010.
"My father left a wonderful legacy with this newly adapted version of The Orphans' Home Cycle," said Foote's daughter, Hallie, in a statement. "My family and I are excited to be partnering with Hartford Stage and Signature Theatre Company to honor the magnificent talent and years of work that went into writing these nine plays. We are very grateful to the Mellon Foundation for helping to make dad's vision a reality. I feel very connected to my father and his writing, and I look forward to participating in the production and bringing his fascinating characters — my extended family — to life during the coming year."
In addition to the $500,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation, Hartford Stage is also the recipient of an anonymous $100,000 gift to help fund Foote's Texas-set cycle. The Mellon grant is the largest of its kind made to a specific project in one season in the history of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Part I of the cycle consists of the plays Roots in a Parched Ground, Convicts and Lily Dale; Part II includes The Widow Claire, Courtship and Valentine's Day; and Part III concludes with 1918, Cousins and The Death of Papa.
Three of the plays in the cycle, Roots in a Parched Ground, Convicts and Cousins, will receive their world premiere in Hartford. According to press notes, The Orphans' Home Cycle "begins with a father's death in a small-Texas town at the turn of the century, a loss that sends his son, Horace Robedaux, on an odyssey through the darkest corners of the heart as he learns to become a husband, father, and patriarch. Set in Foote's fictitious town of Harrison, Texas and based partly on the childhood of Foote's father and the courtship and marriage of his parents, the cycle is a wide-ranging, intricate work."