The American Actors Company is the professional producing arm of the Baylor Theatre. Formed in 2004, in association with the Horton Foote American Playwrights Festival, this new incarnation of the original American Actors Company (which operated in NY during the 1930's and 40's) continues the mission of its predecessor, promoting artistic community and encouraging the work of authentic American voices.
For the 2008 Out of the Loop Festival, the company produced the Texas premiere of The Unseen. After great press and excellent audience feedback in Dallas, and with the permission of Mr. Wright, preparations began for an Off Broadway run of the play at the Cherry Lane. The play was directed by Lisa Denman, and featured performances by Stan Denman, Steven Pounders, and Thomas Ward.
The production had its final performance at the 2009 Horton Foote American Playwrights Festival.
History of The American Actors Company
In 1938, a group of artists led by Mary Hunter and including such notables as Agnes DeMille, Jerome Robbins, and Horton Foote, created the American Actors Company to escape the commercialism of Broadway and promote artistry drawing on authentic American voices. It was here, following an acting improvisation performed by Mr. Foote, that Agnes DeMille suggested, "Did you ever think of writing a play?" The result was Wharton Dance, a dramatization of teenagers at a community dance drawn from Mr. Foote's own hometown experience.
Reviews of Wharton Dance were good and he followed this success with Texas Town, a play about which the famous critic Brooks Atkinson wrote, "it is impossible not to believe absolutely in the reality of his characters." Before disbanding in 1945, the American Actors Company had produced a number of Mr. Foote's first plays, playing a pivotal role in his career.
With Mr. Foote's blessing, the Baylor Department of Theatre Arts formed a new American Actors Company to continue the mission of the original. The new company produced the first professional production of the Horton Foote American Playwrights Festival, The Traveling Lady, a play celebrating its 50th anniversary year. Following a successful run, the actors were invited to perform a reading of the play at the New York Actors Studio, leading to a complete restaging in New York, co-produced by the Ensemble Studio Theatre in the spring of 2006. The play received a Dramadesk nomination for Best Revival of a play.
In the interim, the American Actors Company produced two more works in Texas. Romulus Linney's Heathen Valley was performed for the 2005 Horton Foote American Playwrights Festival; and God and Mammon, an original play by Dr. DeAnna Toten Beard, was performed as part of the 2005 Out of the Loop Festival at the WaterTower Theatre in Dallas.