American Theatre Wing, 2006
This extended interview of the dramatist
and screenwriter Horton Foote provides a fascinating insight into his work. Beginning his career as long ago as 1941, Foote
has subsequently worked in films, television and the theatre, with his most famous plays being A Trip to Bountiful (1953) and The Man from Atlanta (1997). Foote came
across as someone imbued with a strong sense of play, proud of his Texas roots and his feeling for small-town America.
Several of his works are set in the fictional town of Harrison,
placing emphasis on family values, community and the effects wrought by social and political change. The Man from Atlanta is one such work. Set in 1950, its principal character Will Kidder begins the play as a successful
grocery store owner; as the action unfolds, his business is gradually taken over by the mysterious man from Atlanta. Eventually he is fired and forced to move; meanwhile his close friend Lily Dale
is duped by the man who claims to be her long-lost son. The reason for the play’s success, both on and off-Broadway,
lies in its evocation of a bygone world. Like Thornton Wilder’s Our Town,
written in the late 1930s, Foote evokes a world of lost securities, an edenic life apparently impervious to change, in which
everyone knew their place. However, unlike Wilder, Foote is aware of social and political realities; nothing ever stays the
same, and some individuals are bound to suffer as a result. Small-town America
might still exist, but it is not what it was.