Thursday, March 5, 2009

Horton Foote: A Remembrance

We are saddened by the passing of Horton Foote, whose uniquely American voice defined a lyricism in drama that is irreplaceable.

We remember the quiet, gentle power of his persona. During his visit to the Writers Institute in 2006 we presented a reading of his one act play, "Blind Date." We were so anxious to please a writer we admired that our initial rehearsal was clumsy and he soothed us in a calm, melodious voice, reminding us to relax and trust the material. Horton was all about trust. He trusted his roots, his muse, and all the lives around him that he transformed into stories that embraced the complete range of human value on the canvas of small- town American life. He asked the timeless philosophical questions: How do people carry on? Why are they so keen to survive? Why doesn’t life break the human spirit? What’s the difference between those who survive and those who don’t? His art was a quest to explore those questions and celebrate how we suffer catastrophic change and soldier on. His writing allowed us to observe our struggle at a distance, to appreciate it, laugh at it, and weep over it. We miss his voice especially as we attempt to cope with his absence.

It is rare for someone in the world of theatre and at his level of success to be universally acknowledged for personal grace, compassion, sincerity and generosity towards his fellow artists. He has never lost touch with his own apprenticeship and unfailingly showed his genuine interest in and support for those attempting to follow in his impossibly large footsteps. It was, quite simply, a privilege to be in his presence.

- Langdon Brown, Writers Institute Fellow and Director of Authors Theatre