Dividing the Estate

People's Light

2010
$110,000

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The cast of Dividing the Estate. Photo by Mark Garvin.

People's Light & Theatre Company produced the regional premiere of Dividing the Estate by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Horton Foote. In Dividing the Estate, a once wealthy Texas family grapples with the impact of the modern economy on its traditional way of life. As the play unfolds, humorous exchanges between the family's eccentric, multigenerational members belie a sad, unspoken irony: They are flat broke.

People's Light Artistic Director Abigail Adams has an affinity for the work of Horton Foote. After writing to the playwright with questions about one of his earlier plays, Adams received an invitation from Foote to visit him in Wharton, Texas. "I remember best the afternoon I spent with him," she recalled later, "the two of us alone in the town graveyard. He dressed in a double-breasted blazer and silk ascot despite unbelievable heat. We went from stone to stone while he told story after story about the people buried under our feet." The story told in Dividing the Estate, which reflected disasters specific to late-'80s Texas—among them bank failures, tanking real estate values, and job losses—proved resonant for audiences in 2011, when similar disasters swept the nation.

Click here to see part of a discussion about Horton Foote between Wall Street Journal theater critic Terry Teachout and Abigail Adams.