Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Signature Marks Progress on the Signature Center at Ceremony with Mayor Bloomberg

For more information on the Signature Center, please visit www.signaturecenter.org


City Announces $25 Million Contribution to New Home for Signature Theatre within $800 Million, 1.2 Million-Square-Foot LEED-Silver Complex with More than 800 Housing Units and Hotel

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Signature Theatre Company Founding Artistic Director James Houghton and Related Companies Executive Vice President Bruce A .Beal Jr. today announced a $60 million partnership to create a new home for the theater company. The Frank Gehry-designed Signature Center will be part of Related Companies’ $800 million, 59-story, residential building and hotel on 42nd Street and 10th Avenue in the heart of the theater district. The building will provide more than 800 new housing units, including more than 160 that will be targeted to low-income families. The performing arts center will feature three intimate and distinct theatres, rehearsal studios, a café, bookstore and administrative offices, and will allow Signature to more than double its audience, with anticipated attendance of more than 80,000. The LEED-Silver building will create 700 construction jobs and is expected to be completed in 2011, with the Signature Center expected to be completed in 2012. Joining Mayor Bloomberg at the announcement, which took place on the construction site of the new complex, were New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin, and Signature Theatre Company Playwright-in-Residence in 2010-11 Tony Kushner, Executive Director Erika Mallin and artists-in-residence Bill Irwin, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Hallie Foote, John Guare and Edward Albee.

“Signature Theatre Company is one of New York City’s most successful and fastest growing cultural groups, and its spectacular new home will allow it to continue to expand,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The $25 million commitment, combined with a $35 million private investment, will result in a new, world-class performance venue in the heart of the City’s theater district. The fact that Related Companies is moving forward with the major development project now is great news and will have a profound impact, not only on the cultural industry and the City’s skyline, but also on the local economy. There was a period when the future of the project was in question – as were its 700 construction jobs and hundreds of units of much-needed housing. But the construction unions, contractors, architects and engineers worked together to reduce costs, and today it’s serving as a prime example that – despite the national economic downturn – large-scale projects are still happening.”

“The Council has a long standing commitment to the visual and performing arts of this City,” said Speaker Quinn. “We recognize that in order for the city’s theatres to thrive we need to invest in them. I am very happy the city was able to participate in this public private partnership. With the incredible new space that the Signature Theatre Company is acquiring, I look forward to not only the many exciting projects that are sure to come, but the jobs it is creating for our city particularly during this difficult time.”

“It is thrilling to watch our future home materialize in front of us, and we are honored to have Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Christine Quinn, our Board of Trustees and so many of Signature’s artists here to celebrate the progress we have made,” said Signature Theatre Company Founding Artistic Director James Houghton. “Since its founding, Signature Theatre Company has been making an extended commitment to a playwrights’ body of work, championing the playwright’s singular vision, and involving the playwright in every aspect of the creative process. The Signature Center will be a home for many diverse writers to create work that engages even more artists and audiences. The collision and interaction of multiple distinct voices reveals the greater power of our collective stories. We are honored to have the extraordinary support of the City of New York and the Related Companies as we bring Signature’s artistic vision to life on an even larger scale.”

“The American playwriting community has never been more thriving with talent and interest, and no theater serves our community better than Signature does,” said Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner, who will be Signature’s Playwright-in-Residence in 2010-11. “It’s one of the very few essential institutions in the American theater.”

“Related has a long-standing commitment to supporting the arts from our partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center to Symphony Space and we are incredibly proud of the public-private partnership we have formed with the Signature Theatre Company, a great New York arts institution, to create a world-class theatre complex on 42nd Street in the heart of the theatre district,” said Related Companies Executive Vice President Bruce A. Beal Jr. “We are also grateful to our entire development team, contractors, architects, consultants and members of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York who are working hard to ensure that this large scale development project can continue to move forward in challenging economic times and as many other development projects remain stalled.”

“We are happy to be part of creating a new home in the New York City theatre district for the Signature Theatre Company,” said Architect Frank Gehry. “I believe in Jim Houghton’s mission of creating innovative theater and our goal was to design the spaces to support that mission. We’re all very excited about the direction we’ve taken and are looking forward to watching the first performance.”

“This new home for Signature will build on the company’s success, expands its commitment to public accessibility, and serves both the local neighborhood and the city’s entire cultural community,” said Commissioner Levin. “By bringing together artists and audiences in a wonderful new space, Signature will enhance its contribution to the city’s identity, economy and quality of life.”

“I don’t expect in my lifetime to run into too many opportunities where I have the ability to participate in something that will be a lasting legacy for my community,” said Signature Theatre Trustee and Co-Chair of Capital Campaign Edward Norton. “I strongly believe that the Signature Center is one such opportunity where we can make a significant contribution to the future landscape of the arts in New York City.”

The City is contributing $25 million to the Signature Center. The theater company has raised $16 million for the project and plans to raise an additional $19 million. The Signature Center will feature three unique programs: the continuation of the Master Playwright Residency, which explores the works of playwrights with major bodies of work; the expansion of the Legacy Program, which celebrates the lifetime achievements of the artists who have previously worked at Signature, and the introduction of a new Emerging Playwrights Residency, which will feature early and mid-career playwrights, and guarantee them three full productions over the course of a four-year residency.

The entire 59-story complex will be built to LEED Silver standards. The building will incorporate smart design measures and premium efficiency systems that will save over $800,000 worth of energy each year, resulting in less of a draw on the City’s energy infrastructure and lower energy bills for each of its tenants and over 1,800 anticipated residents. The project also anticipates another $100,000 worth of electricity savings by using fluorescent lamps instead of incandescent bulbs for the building’s temporary lighting during construction. While Frank
Gehry is designing the theater center, Arquitectonica and Ismael Leyva are designing the rest of the building.

Founded in 1991 by James Houghton, Signature is the first theatre company to devote an entire season to the work of a single playwright, providing audiences with re-examinations of past writings, as well as New York and world premieres. Since 2005, Signature has been committed to presenting its world-class programming at an affordable price: the Signature Ticket Initiative, with major support form Time Warner, offers subsidized $20 tickets to all performances. Signature’s initiative has become a model in breaking down price barriers to theatre, helping to attract younger and more diverse audiences.

Signature is currently running the critically acclaimed, sold-out The Orphans’ Home Cycle by Horton Foote, a nine hour, three-part theatrical event and the company’s most ambitious programming to date (22 actors, multiple set locations). Signature will celebrate its 20th anniversary in the 2010-11 season by presenting a season of works by Pulitzer-Prize winner Tony Kushner, including the first New York revival of Angels in America. Signature, its productions and its resident writers have been recognized with a Pulitzer Prize, eleven Lucille Lortel Awards, fifteen Obie Awards, five Drama Desk Awards, and nineteen AUDELCO Awards, among many other distinctions. The National Theatre Conference recognized the company as the 2003 Outstanding National Theatre of the Year.

Photos: Celebrate Christmas with the Cast of Orphans'

The cast and crew of The Orphans' Home Cycle is getting into the spirit this year, and Henry Hodges, who plays Horace Robedaux at age 14, captured some of that goodwill backstage and at a recent party for the cast at James Demarse's home. Enjoy the photos, and have a happy holiday!

Bill Heck's imitation of The Grinch

Hallie decides to go with a different hat for this show

Cole Bonenberger, our Production Stage Manager and fearless leader!

Henry Hodges steps out from behind the camera.

Crew members Maggie, Kara and Bridget in the house, wondering what gift they will get under the tree

Dylan and Emily sign in as elf #1 and elf #2

Gilbert Owuor hopes he is not on the "naughty" list

It's a jolly holiday with Maggie, Henry, Marisa, Christina, and Cole!

The ladies man has arrived! Here's Lucas Caleb Rooney and Maggie Swing

Look at that tree!

Bill Heck makes a friend

This kitten wants a Horace for Christmas

Thanks for being part of The Orphans' Home Cycle!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Actor's Diary: God's Country

Bryce Pinkham plays the roles of Brother Vaughn, Pete Davenport and Felix Barclay in The Orphans' Home Cycle

Bryce Pinkham, Maggie Lacey and Bill Heck on the porch swing at the Vaughn (Brooks) family home (Courtship and The Death of Papa)

“Well son, how do ya’ll like God’s country?” The man addressing me is Harry Goudeau. He is a hay farmer from Hungerford, Texas. He wears a weathered khaki shirt, brown work pants, and carries a loaded 20-gauge shotgun. Down here, where people are ‘tough as boots,’ Harry is steel-toed. Secretly shaking in my city shoes, I reply “We like it… We like it real well.” Shortly after dispatching, with military precision, numerous clay pigeons to their maker, Harry concedes, “I’m glad y’all had a chance to come down here and see how the real people live.” Harry Goudeau is not a man to disagree with; luckily I concur- I’m glad we’ve come too.

It is our week off from the plays and alongside Bill Heck and Maggie Lacey, our Cycle’s leading duo, I have made a pilgrimage to Horton Foote’s hometown, the place that nurtured the real life versions of his characters from cradle to grave. We arrive well past midnight in Wharton on the nimble heels of a temperate breeze, a friendly ‘heads up’ from the Gulf. The town is quiet and dark as we search North Houston Street for the Foote family guesthouse. “It’s the one with the red door,” we’ve been told, probably built before the need for an address. As we settle in for the night I am confronted by the simple calm of this place, a far cry from the city atmosphere we have inhabited for the past four months. I am beckoned to sleep by the somnolent holler of the late night train whistle and the early patter of Texas-size rain drops slapping high fives with the Pecan trees in the yard. For the first time since we started rehearsals in June, I feel myself relax.

Our first stop the next morning is thirty steps away. Other than a modest plaque outside, Horton Foote’s childhood home is as simple and humble as any other on the street. I feel an odd sense of déjà vu entering the house whose onstage avatar we inhabit in the plays 1918 and The Death of Papa. Across the threshold, we are immediately drawn to the mantelpiece. Having recently toured the Connecticut home of another treasured American voice, Mark Twain, I can’t help but draw immediate parallels and note particular contrasts between the two houses. It is said that Mark Twain used to tell stories to his children every night, inventing characters and situations based on the various bric-a-brac and bagatelles that resided on his famously ornate mantle. Horton’s mantle, like the rest of his house, politely declines such Twainian ostentation, but indeed has stories of its own to tell. Home to more than precious curios, it shelves the very people who inspired so many of Horton’s plays, particularly his Orphans’ Home Cycle. Among pictures of Horton with Presidents, movie stars and grandchildren are family portraits of generations past. One of my favorite moments of the entire trip is watching Bill and Maggie discover and comprehend a framed picture of “themselves” (they play Horton’s parents.) As we explore the rest of the house in silent reverence, I can just imagine the sounds of children scampering down the hallway, around the sunlit kitchen and out through the backyard. It strikes me as the perfect family home: the living spaces are open and connected, and yet there remain plenty of places to disappear to, plenty of spots to curl up with a good book.

My boon discovery for the day is Horton’s study, the room where he would retire to read and write. The entire length of the room on one side is home to a collection of books and plays that would make any theatrical bookworm jealous. Kitty corner to Horton’s personal library, among a flotilla of awards, medals and memorabilia, I discover a pair of unassuming relics. The first is a bible that appears to have belonged to Albert Horton Foote, Horton’s grandfather and the patriarch whose death occurs in the first act of The Orphans’ Home Cycle. Right beside it is another bible that once belonged to Tom Brooks, my character’s father, and the patriarch whose death ends the cycle. It is easy to imagine Horton in his chair, cloaked in the afternoon sun, leafing through the worn pages of the two books and contemplating the next family story to resurrect for the stage. It won’t be the last time on the trip I am reminded that these people we have done our best to bring to life were not just characters to our playwright, they were his flesh and blood.

Our gracious hosts on this visit, the proud Whartonians Charles Davis and Betty Joyce, are friends of the Foote family and, thankfully, everybody else in town. It only takes a quick spin around the block for them to prove themselves vast repositories of knowledge for everything Wharton. Over the next few days we will be treated to a whirlwind tour of the town and the many landmarks that bear relevance to the plays and our playwright. We will see Horace Sr.’s dry goods store, The Vaughn family home, the courthouse square, the convict farm, the train station, and the boarding house. One of our first stops, in between diagonal blankets of cozy gulf rain, is the Wharton graveyard. Amid strong gusts of wind, rebel shafts of sunlight occasionally sneak past their storm cloud captors to warm a few lucky headstones. Sleuth-like in our search, we eventually find Albert Horton’s actual tombstone, the one that Horace spends the entire cycle saving money to buy. At its base it reads ‘erected by his son’. We visit everyone from Mrs. Cookenboo to Bobby Pate to the entire Vaughn (or rather Brooks) family lot. With the help of our erudite guides we discuss the various characters, the odd web that connects them all, and how each met his or her demise. Someone asks if it is odd to stand in front of our own character’s graves. Admittedly, the feeling is somewhere between macabre admiration and shuddersome pride. We can only hope that what we have been able to do with the plays is a fitting homage to the group of eternally reposed beings couched at our feet. Finally, we stop in front of the graves of Horton and Lillian Foote and are silent. It is in this moment that the whole experience becomes entirely real. Within minutes of us standing there, the wind resumes its previous bluster and the sky releases squadrons of grape-size pugilists, pelting us back to the cars.

It seems to me that the opportunity is rare for an actor in our country’s predominant theatrical model to conduct what I would call primary research. Our trip to Wharton is a chance for us to talk to real people, visit real places and tap the literal source of our playwright’s inspiration. It has added an entirely new dimension to our work, one that will make itself known in obvious ways (nothing helps dialect work like talking to a native), but also in ways that are untraceable, but nevertheless perceived. While our opportunity has indeed been unique, it has further convinced me that as actors we must take responsibility and ownership of our roles as creative detectives if we aspire to obtain the artistic agency that our current model sometimes seems to deny.

On our final day in Wharton we enjoy a picnic by the river, (I now know what Barbeque is supposed to taste like), a skeet shoot (I think my shoulder is still bruised from an exhilarating first experience with a firearm), and a Texas sized bonfire under the stars. In five short days we have been welcomed into this place in a way that feels like family. It’s true what they say, everything is bigger here, even the mosquito bites (which I have managed to limit to under one hundred). As our return flight circles New York, the city’s neurotic rush waiting for us below, I feel fuller, better equipped, dare I say- prepared for rehearsal the next day. I anticipate the return from Wharton’s profoundly spacious landscape to the cramped and crowded streets of the city may prove to be a bit of an adjustment. Nevertheless we are all looking forward to bringing a little Wharton to the Signature Theater Company, our hearts, minds and sleep schedules full of Texas.

Click here for more photos from Bryce, Bill and Maggie's Trip

Photos From ORPHANS' Actors trip to Horton Foote's Hometown of Wharton, Texas

The Orphans' Home Cycle actors Bryce Pinkham (Brother Vaughn), Maggie Lacey (Elizabeth Vaughn Robedaux) and Bill Heck (Horace Robedaux) took a trip down to Wharton, Texas during their week off to visit Horton Foote's hometown, and the inspiration for Harrison, Texas, where Orphans' is set. Below are some photos of their trip.

Be sure to check out the latest entry of Bryce's Actor's Diary, "God's Country," where he talks about their amazing trip. Click here to read.

On the road to Wharton

Bryce's first firearm experience... enjoyment level: alarmingly high.

Bill Heck in front of Albert Horton's grave

Bill Heck and Maggie Lacey pay their respects to the real Horace and Elizabeth

The porch swing at the Vaughn (Brooks) family home (Courtship and The Death of Papa)

The porch swing at the 1918 house (Horace and Elizabeth's home in 1918 and The Death of Papa)

The reviews are in for ORPHANS' HOME CYCLE: Part 2: The Story of a Marriage!

The Orphans' Home Cycle, Part 2: The Story of a Marriage opened at Signature Theatre on December 17, 2009, and the critics received it just as rapturously as they did Part 1!

An Insignificant Riddle and the Other Women in an Orphan’s Life

“Roberta!” the drunken man calls out in his sleep, his voice as lonely as a train whistle on a prairie. A little boy who overhears him thinks it sounds as if somebody were being murdered. But the man’s roommates in a small-town boarding house in Harrison, Tex., are more perplexed than alarmed. “Who’s Roberta?” they ask one another.

The answer (to be revealed at the end of this review) is inconsequential to the central story of the exquisite “Widow Claire,” the first of three short plays in the second part of Horton Foote’s ever more engrossing “Orphans’ Home Cycle” at the Peter Norton Space on West 42nd Street. The restless dreamer is a minor character, and I suppose you could say that his nightmare — if that’s what it is — is an exceedingly minor event in the so-far splendid production of nine interconnected dramas by Foote, from the Signature Theater Company and Hartford Stage. (The third installment of three plays opens next month, and will continue in repertory with the other two.)

But minor events set off major ripples in the minds of those watching “The Orphans’ Home” plays, which follow the deracinated life of Horace Robedaux, a character based on Foote’s father. Seemingly unimportant moments acquire talismanic significance when you look back, the way small details from your own past loom large and revealingly in memory.

“Roberta,” that repeated cry in the night out of nowhere, comes to feel like a theme song for “The Story of a Marriage,” the collective title for this trilogy about the mystery, salvation and randomness of love, which opened on Thursday night. (Besides “The Widow Claire,” the others are “Courtship” and “Valentine’s Day.”)

Horace, who was introduced as a boy in “The Story of a Childhood,” the cycle’s first chapter, is now a man (affectingly played by Bill Heck), possessed of a hungry ambition and an undermining passivity in equal measures. He is looking to recreate the home he lost — if he ever had it — when he was 12, the year his father died, and his mother moved out of Harrison with Horace’s sister, leaving the boy behind. Finding a home means finding a mate, a pursuit that gives shape to the “Marriage” plays, which cover five years of Horace’s life in Harrison, from 1912 to 1917.

Though these works present what is, on some levels, a conventional love story with a happy ending — inspired by the elopement of Foote’s parents — they never shake off the haunted chill that runs through all his work. For the characters created by Foote, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Young Man From Atlanta,” permanence in relationships is a pipe dream. And the folks, young and old, who inhabit the “Marriage” trilogy are forever asking, “What if,” in a fretful litany:

What if the person you love dies tomorrow? What if love fades or turns sour? What if you were never really in love at all?

Directed by Michael Wilson with assured understatement, and acted by a consistently convincing and versatile repertory cast, these plays flow with a sense of everyday life accelerated, moving by us in a blur of dramatic happenings lodged in the fine grit of the ordinary. The stories swapped here include tales of madness, alcoholism, suicide and deaths in childbirth.

Click here to read the entire review:

The Orphans’ Home Cycle, Part 2: The Story of a Marriage


“The second part of "The Orphans' Home Cycle," Horton Foote's family album of plays about a turn-of-the-century Texas family and its struggles with the coming of modernity, has just opened at Signature Theatre Company. It upholds the immeasurably bright promise of the first installment. Not since Tom Stoppard's "The Coast of Utopia" has so self-evidently significant a large-scale theatrical endeavor come to New York.

Horton Foote died last March, immediately after putting the finishing touches on "The Orphans' Home Cycle." Could it be that he brought his long and illustrious career to a triumphant close by giving us the Great American Play? Come to Signature Theatre and see for yourself.”

Click here to read the entire review:

Give ‘Home Cycle’ a Spin
Elisabeth Vincentelli, NEW YORK POST

“Horton Foote's "Or phans' Home Cycle" is an oxymoron: an intimate, sprawling piece. It's made up of nine plays spread over 26 years, with a cast of characters hanging from extensive family trees, yet each show feels like the snug snapshot of a particular, small-scale moment.

It's not a fanfare Foote has written for the common man, but a series of chamber pieces.

The cycle is such a vast undertaking that the Signature company is unveiling Michael Wilson's production in successive installments of three plays each. The new one, "The Story of a Marriage," follows last month's "The Story of a Childhood," with "The Story of a Family" due in January.

Rarely has everyday life been so modestly inspiring as it is in Foote's hands. The worst part is that we have to wait another month to see how it all ends.”

Click here to read the entire review:

Horton Foote epic gets exquisite treatment
Joe Dziemianowicz, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

“Five stars (out of five)

Based on size alone, "The Orphans' Home Cycle" would qualify as the year's big theater event.
This final work of Horton Foote, who died in March, is a three-part series whose running time adds up to a whopping nine hours.

But those are just numbers.

The real reason Foote's drama is so big and important is because it's so exquisitely realized — the writing, acting, direction and design.

So far, it's a home run for its presenters, the Signature Theatre Company and Hartford Stage.”

Click here to read the entire review:

Horace Robedaux journeys into adulthood, marriage

“Horace Robedaux continues his journey into adulthood in Part 2 of "The Orphans' Home Cycle," Horton Foote's masterful examination of one man's life in small-town Texas in the first decades of the 20th century.

For those who are jumping in midstream, Horace has grown up. An unsettling childhood and the beginnings of maturity were the centerpiece of the cycle's opening trio of plays. Now, in the middle section of Foote's mammoth nine-play marathon, the man, portrayed with a touch of melancholy by Bill Heck, is searching for stability — and a wife.

Part 2, which the Signature Theatre Company opened Thursday at its Peter Norton Space, celebrates that quest, first with "The Widow Claire," the title of the evening's touching curtain-raiser. Heck projects a mournful rootlessness even as Horace courts this lonely young woman (Virginia Kull) who is faced with raising two children alone in rural Harrison, Texas.

Part 3, in which Horace moves into the role of family patriarch, opens Jan. 26. We can't wait.”

Click here to read the entire review:

The Orphans’ Home Cycle, Part 2: The saga continues

“Five stars (out of five).

In accordance with the Law of Trilogies (which I last invoked for The Coast of Utopia), the second part of Horton Foote’s immensely satisfying Orphans’ Home Cycle is fraught and full of darkness.

Director Michael Wilson works wonders with an adept 22-person ensemble. His actors achieve a fascinating blend of wistfulness and stoicism: Even the craziest and most inebriated characters in Harrison, Texas (the primary setting), avoid hammy excess in favor of poignant restraint and clarity. And while most of the tales’ ugliness and violence occurs offstage, there’s a palpable tension on the Signature’s intimate stage, as Horace and the others engage in a pitched moral battle between kindness and cruelty. We have to wait until the final chapter, in late January, to see who wins.”

Click here to read the entire review:

The Orphans’ Home Cycle, Part 2: The Story of a Marriage
Robert Feldberg, BERGEN RECORD

“The plays are superbly acted by a large cast, and have been directed by Michael Wilson with uncommon sensitivity.

The last part of the trilogy, "The Story of a Family," will pick up Horace's and Elizabeth's lives a year later, in 1918. It's something to be eagerly anticipated.”

Click here to read the entire review:

The Orphans’ Home Cycle, Part 2: The Story of a Marriage
Erik Haagensen, BACKSTAGE

“As with Part One, three hours fly by as this utterly engaging and deeply compelling work unfolds. At the center is Bill Heck's superb Horace. Graceful, handsome, impeccably mannered—it's clear why the ladies take to him. But Heck never forgets Horace's inner core of self-doubt, fueled in part by the pain of his mother's neglect. Darkness is always simmering under the surface. Bring on Part Three."

Click here to read the entire review:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Text Summary of The Orphans' Home Cycle, Part 1: The Story of a Childhood

Missed The Orphans' Home Cycle, Part 1: The Story of a Childhood, or want to catch up on what happened before you see Part 2: The Story of a Marriage? Here's a summary of what happened:

Act I, Roots in a Parched Ground, takes us to Harrison, Texas in 1902. Horace’s father, Paul Robedaux, a once prominent lawyer, has succumbed to alcoholism and is on his death bed. Horace’s mother, Corella Thornton, who separated from her husband before he died, has been working in Houston. Horace’s extended families, the Robedauxs and the Thorntons, once occupied a prosperous place in the antebellum Southern aristocracy, but have failed to recover from the devastation of the Civil War and are struggling to make ends meet. The Robedauxs, grief-stricken after Paul Horace’s death, sell their house and move out of Harrison. Corella returns to Houston with Horace’s younger sister Lily Dale and remarries Pete Davenport, a railroad man who “has no bad habits.” Mr. Davenport refuses to take Horace, believing that a boy his age should be put to work. Horace stays with his mother’s family, quits school, and sets off on his own to work full-time, with the hope of saving enough money to buy a tombstone for his father’s grave.

Act II, Convicts, takes place on Christmas Eve, 1904. Horace is working at a dry goods store on the Gautier plantation, which is worked by black convicts. The plantation owner, Soll Gautier, is an alcoholic and delusional confederate war veteran who continually defers paying Horace his salary. Instead, he enlists Horace in accompanying him throughout the night while he hunts convicts and painfully recalls his troubled past. Back at the house, Soll senses that his time has come, and asks Horace to stay with him until he dies. By the morning, Soll is dead, and Horace is out of a job. Asa Gautier Vaughn, Soll’s niece and the inheritor of his estate, refuses to pay Horace for his work.

Act III, Lily Dale, brings us to Houston in 1910 where Horace has come to pay a visit to his mother and sister. Lily Dale shows off her piano skills to Horace and secretly confides in him that she has a suitor named Will Kidder, whom she hopes to marry. The visit ends abruptly when Mr. Davenport, who believes more than ever that Horace should be fully supporting himself, comes home early. Corella asks Horace to leave, but a debilitating fever confines him to the Davenport home until he regains his health. Corella works to maintain an amiable environment as tension festers between Horace and Mr. Davenport. Horace had hoped to get a job working on the railroad with Mr. Davenport, but Mr. Davenport gives the job to Will instead. After hearing about them from Will, Horace decides to attend a business school in Houston, so that he will be able to advance beyond being a store clerk. Lily Dale is pleased by Mr. Davenport’s approval of Will, but she becomes frustrated with Horace’s curiosity about their late father. When Horace is finally healthy enough to leave, he sets off for Harrison, knowing that a home does not exist in Houston with his mother, sister, and step-father.

See you at the theatre!

Catching Up on Part 1 of The Orphans' Home Cycle

Missed The Orphans' Home Cycle, Part 1: The Story of a Childhood, or want to catch up on what happened before you see Part 2: The Story of a Marriage? Check out the video montage below, created by our friends (and co-producers) at Hartford Stage, or click here for a text summary.

See you at the theatre!