The Orphans' Home Cycle
The Orphans' Home Cycle is a 3-play drama written by Horton Foote. Each of the three plays in the trilogy comprises three one-act plays. They are The Story of a Childhood (Part 1), The Story of a Marriage (Part 2), and The Story of a Family (Part 3).
The plays focus on Horace Robedaux, whose character was inspired by Foote's father, from Texas, at the turn of the 20th Century to the beginning of the Depression. The plays follow Horace through three decades, as "seen through three generations of three families."
Most of the individual plays had been produced previously, either on stage, in film, or for television. Hartford Stage and the Signature Theatre Company co-produced the cycle. Foote said "It's incredibly moving to see all of these plays from my years of writing come together into the theatrical cycle that I've always envisioned."
The cycle was produced at the Hartford Stage, Hartford, Connecticut, in September 2009 through October 2009. The cycle ran in repertory Off-Broadway at the Signature Theatre Company from November 19, 2009 (Part 1), December 17, (Part 2), and January 26, (Part 3) through May 8, 2010. They (collectively) won the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play.
The director was Michael Wilson, sets by Jeff Cowie and David M. Barber, and costumes by David C. Woolard. An original score was composed by John Gromada. The cast included Bill Heck, Maggie Lacey, Annalee Jefferies, Emily Robinson, Hallie Foote, Pamela Payton-Wright, and Dylan Riley Snyder.
In April 2016, Baylor University's Theatre Department put on the first ever consecutive reading of all nine plays in the cycle, bookending its full-fledged production of Story of a Marriage. Horton Foote had a long relationship with Baylor's Department of Theatre Arts and was a good friend of Dr. Marion Castleberry, a graduate professor at the University and Foote's biographer as well as director of the Cycle.
- Part 1, The Story of a Childhood, 1902-1911
Act 1: Roots in a Parched Ground, 1902-1903; Act 2: Convicts, 1904; Act 3 Lily Dale, 1911.
- Roots in a Parched Ground was first presented on the television show "DuPont Show of the Month", in 1962 under the title The Night of the Storm. The cast featured Julie Harris as Julia, E. G. Marshall as Jim Howard, and Mildred Dunnock as Grandma Robedaux.
- Convicts was made into a film and released in 1991, with Robert Duvall as Soll Gautier and Lukas Haas as Horace Robedaux.
- Lily Dale ran off-Broadway at the Samuel Beckett Theatre from November 20, 1986 to February 15, 1987. The cast featured Molly Ringwald as Lily, later replaced by Mary Stuart Masterson. It was also televised in the "Hallmark Hall of Fame" series in 1996, with Masterson as Lily.
- Part 2, The Story of a Marriage, 1912–1917
Act 1: The Widow Claire; Act 2: Courtship; Act 3: Valentine's Day
- The Widow Claire was produced off-Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theatre from December 17, 1986 to April 26, 1987, with Matthew Broderick as Horace Robedaux and Hallie Foote as Widow Claire.
- Courtship was filmed in 1987 with William Converse-Roberts as Horace Robedaux.
- Valentine's Day was filmed and released in 1986 with Matthew Broderick as Brother, William Converse-Roberts as Horace Robedaux, and Hallie Foote as Elizabeth Robedaux.
- Part 3, The Story of a Family, 1918 to 1928
Act 1: 1918; Act 2: Cousins; Act 3: The Death of Papa.
- 1918 was produced in the 1990–91 season at the American Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco, California.
- Cousins was first produced in 1983 at the Loft Theatre, Los Angeles, California.
- Death of Papa premiered in 1997 at the Playmakers' Repertory Company, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with Matthew Broderick and Ellen Burstyn. It was produced by the Hartford Stage in June 1999 with Frankie Muniz as Horace Robedaux Jr., Hallie Foote as Elizabeth Robedaux, and Dana Ivey as Mary Vaughn.
John Simon called the cycle "absorbing and uplifting", and noted that it was "suffused with Foote’s almost uncanny humanity in portraying besetting hardships and hard-won victories, disheartening letdowns and dogged loyalties. Foote has a smiling empathy with all people."
Awards and nominations
- Special Award, To the cast, creative team and producers of Horton Foote’s epic The Orphans' Home Cycle (winner)
- Outstanding Actor in a Play, Bill Heck (nominee)
- Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play (winner)
- Outstanding Director of a Play, Michael Wilson (winner)
- Outstanding Actor in a Play, Bill Heck (nominee)
- Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play, James DeMarse (nominee)
- Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play, Hallie Foote (nominee)
- Best Play (winner)
American Theatre Wing Henry Hewes Award for Design "Notable Effects- for outstanding Production Design", David M. Barber, Jeff Cowie, David Woolard, Rui Rita, John Gromada, Jan Hartley (winners)
- Wallenberg, Christopher."Family story brimming with emotion" boston.com, August 30, 2009
- Hetrick, Adam."Foote's Orphans' Home Cycle to Play Hartford Stage and NY's Signature", Playbill, January 21, 2009
- Gates, Anita."Orphans’ Home Cycle,’ a Horton Foote Feast"The New York Times, September 18, 2009
- Hetrick, Adam."Last Installment of Foote's Orphans' Home Cycle Opens Off-Broadway Jan. 26" playbill.com, January 26, 2010
- "In 'Orphans' Cycle, a Foote Family Tree". New York Times. December 9, 2009.
- Foote, Horton.Script, 'Roots in a Parched Ground' google books.com, Dramatists Play Service, Inc., 1962, ISBN 0-8222-0967-5
- "Internet Movie Database listing, 'Convicts'" imdb.com, retrieved May 18, 2010
- Watson, Charles S. Horton Foote: A Literary Biography, University of Texas Press, 2003, ISBN 0-292-79160-7, p.169
- Internet Off-Broadway Database listing, 'Lily Dale'" lortel.org, retrieved May 16, 2010
- "Internet Movie Database listing, 'Lily Dale'" imdb.com, retrieved May 18, 2010
- Internet Off-Broadway Datavase listing, 'The Widow Claire'" lortel.org, retrieved May 18, 2010
- "Internet Movie Database listing, 'Courtship'" imdb.com, retrieved May 18, 2010
- "Internet Movie Database listing, 'Valentine's Day'" imdb.com, retrieved May 18, 2010
- Act archives act-sf.org, retrieved May 18, 2010
- List and chronology of Foote works curtainup.com, retrieved May 18, 2010
- Wood, Gerald C. Horton Foote: A Casebook Taylor & Francis, 1998, ISBN 0-8153-2544-4, p. 206
- Brantley, Ben."Daughter Knows Best In a Horton Foote Play"The New York Times, June 18, 1999
- Brantley, Ben."Life, Death and Family in Foote’s Texas"The New York Times, January 27, 2010
- Simon, John."Horton Foote’s ‘Orphans’ Home Cycle’ Must Be Seen"Bloomberg News, February 6, 2010
- Gans, Andrew."Drama Desk Award Nominations Announced; Ragtime and Scottsboro Top List" playbill.com, May 3, 2010
- Gans, Andrew."New York Drama Critics' Circle Names Orphans' Home Cycle Best Play" playbill.com, April 30, 2010