Not every American would recognize his name, but most would know Horton Foote’s most famous works â€“ the films â€œTo Kill A Mockingbird,â€ made from the screenplay he adapted from Harper Lee’s novel, and â€œTender Mercies,â€ from his original screenplay. But when he died last year at age 92, Foote was at work on what may soon be viewed as the accomplishment of his lifetime, “The Orphans’ Home Cycle,” epic and moving theater at affordable price.
“The Orphans’ Home Cycle” is nine plays presented in three parts — “The Story of A Childhood,” “The Story of A Marriage,” “The Story of A Family,” presented in repertory.
I’ve written reviews for each of the three parts, excerpts of which are below:
Another Century Of Struggle: Horton Foote And Orphans’ Home Cycle Review, Part 1
Now in the Signature’s Off-Broadway home off 11th Avenue comes the Orphans’ Home Cycle, roughly nine hours chronicling one man’s life over some three decades, based partly on Foote’s father, starting from the age of 12 at the turn of the 20th century.
The first three hour-long plays, presented together under the title â€œThe Story of A Childhood,â€ offer a committed cast of 21 actors in a splendidly fluid production that promises to turn Foote’s character studies (most of which had been produced previously) into a theatrical epic that recalls such past stage marathons as the Royal Shakespeare Theater’s Life and Adventure of Nicholas Nickleby or Robert Shenkkan’s The Kentucky Cycleâ€“ all at a cost of just $20 per ticket.
Love Makes a Difference: Orphans’ Home Cycle Review Part 2
â€œThe Story of A Marriageâ€ is not just a charming look at love and contentment, since this is Horton Foote; his consideration of life in a small Texas town from 1912 to 1917 is tinged with sadness, and tales (not always off-stage) of unrequited romance, unhappy marriages, drunkenness, dissipation, even several deaths, including a suicide and a murder. There are regrets and resentments, fears and frustrations. But all of this is treated matter-of-factly, as if the characters accept that this is what life has to offer.
Soldiering On Through Life’s Sorrows: Orphans Home Cycle Review Part 3
â€œHow can human beings stand all that comes to them?â€ Horace asks in â€œThe Story of a Family,â€ the last of â€œThe Orphans’ Home Cycle.â€ It is 1918, people are dying of influenza at home or in combat overseas, but the question underlies Horton Foote’s entire nine-play cycle. And the answer, after nine hours watching an ensemble of some two dozen wonderful actors presenting 26 years in the life of Horace Robedaux and his extended family, is: They just do.