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Genesis of an American Playwright
By Horton Foote Edited by Marion Castleberry
In Genesis of an American Playwright Horton Foote, one of the greatest American playwrights of the twentieth century, reflects upon his journey from his childhood in Wharton, Texas, through his early experiences as an actor in the theatre, to his mature vocation as a playwright. All along the way, Foote carefully identifies the people and influences that shaped his character and nurtured his art. What is remarkable about this book is equally remarkable about his drama: he writes with an effortlessness that belies the intimacy of the art emanating from deep within. The stories are simply told, but complex in their resonance. Foote not only reveals his immediate professional world, but he also provides a running commentary on the changes in American culture. This book makes for as fascinating reading as it does compelling history. On December 20, 2000, President Bill Clinton conferred the National Medal of Arts on Texas dramatist, Horton Foote, and noted that Foote's six-decade-long, award-winning career established him as the nation's most prolific writer for stage, film, and television. Foote's many awards include two Academy Awards, an Emmy, a Burkey Award and the Screen Laurel Award from the Writers Guild of America, the Lucille Lortel Award, and his induction into both the Theatre Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Without question, Horton Foote has enriched American literature with his unique writing style and his truthful examinations of the human condition. Besides To Kill A Mockingbird and The Trip To Bountiful, Foote has written a score of notable plays, teleplays, and films.
Chapter 1: Genesis of a Playwright
Seeing and Imagining
Pasadena and Beyond
Learning to Write
Chapter 2: On Being a Southern Writer
Wharton, Then and Now
What It Means to be a Southern Writer
The Trip to Paradise
The Artist as Mythmaker
Things Have Ends and Beginnings
Chapter 3: Writing for the Stage
Dance and Broadway (1944)
Sometimes the One-Act Play Says It All
Advice to Young Playwrights
The Orphans’ Home Cycle Lecture
How To and How Not To: Some Lessons Learned along the Way
Introduction to The Young Man from Atlanta
Chapter 4: Writing for the Screen
The Little Box
On First Dramatizing Faulkner
The McDermott Lecture
Writing for Film
Chapter 5: Thoughts on the American Theatre
The New York Theatre (1930—1940)
The Changing of the Guard
The Vanishing World and Renewals
Appendix: Cast Lists and Production Information
Bibliography of Published and Produced Works (1939—2003)
Foote's multitudinous plays and film scripts exhibit a voice and vision contrasting noticeably with the prevailing zeitgeist, so readers should not be surprised that his essays and lectures are equally distinctive.... Recommended.
Here, in all its astonishing range and depth, in his own words and over years and years and years, is the life and work of one of America's greatest writers. Read it with love and awe.
A book of generosity and honesty that every aspiring writer should read.
Genesis is indispensable to anyone interested in the American theatre.
MARION CASTLEBERRY, an accomplished director and actor, is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Theatre Studies at Baylor University. He is the author of many academic and professional articles on Horton Foote.