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Baylor kicks off 2nd annual Horton Foote festival

Oct. 18, 2005

by VAN DARDEN, reporter

The Baylor Theatre Department will host its second Horton Foote American Playwrights Festival beginning Wednesday and running through Friday.

Baylor hosted the first festival in the spring of 2004 as a way to honor Foote, a Texas-born Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist and Oscar-winning screenwriter.

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Courtesy photo
Pam Dougherty, Scott Sowers and Steven Pounders star in the American Actors Company's production of Heathen Valley.

Foote won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his adaptation of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for 1983's Tender Mercies.

The 2004 festival honored Foote's own contributions to American theater and showcased Foote's The Traveling Lady, produced by the American Actors Company.

This year's festival will include discussion panels, academic symposia and performances featuring the American Actors Company's production of Heathen Valley by Romulus Linney.

The festival will honor Linney, an author of more than 40 plays, novels and short stories and recipient of two National Critics Awards -- including one for Heathen Valley -- among many other honors.

Heathen Valley tells the story of three unlikely missionaries who come to convert the crude, primitive residents of Heathen, "a valley that forgot God," nestled deep in the Appalachian Mountains.

"The play poses questions that we all need to ask, 'How do we feel about life?' and 'What part does religion play in our lives?'" said Dr. Marion Castleberry, associate professor of theater arts and director of Heathen Valley.

Heathen Valley will run for three nights, debuting at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Mabee Theatre in the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center.

In addition, Sulphur Springs junior Zach Kelty and Fredericksburg senior Bethany Gray have been asked to read selections from Linney's works.

"The (Horton Foote) festival gives people who aren't theater majors a chance to learn about plays and playwrights," Kelty said. "The festival is completely focused on good theater."

The festival culminates Friday night with a gala dinner and tribute to Linney. Following a dinner and award presentation, Marin Mazzie, star of Broadway's Kiss Me, Kate and Man of La Mancha will sing.

Three-day conference tickets cost $175 and include access to the Wednesday through Friday daytime events, a Heathen Valley performance ticket, the gala dinner and Mazzie in concert. Festival day passes cost $35 per day and include access to presentations of academic papers and panels. These speeches will be free to all Baylor staff and faculty. Tickets can be purchased at the Baylor box office located inside the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center.