People¬'s Light & Theatre Presents DIVIDING THE ESTATE 5/11-6/5

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People’s Light & Theatre Presents DIVIDING THE ESTATE 5/11-6/5

People's Light & Theatre presents the Philadelphia premiere of Horton Foote's Dividing the Estate. It runs May 11 - June 5, 2011 on the Main Stage. Artistic Director AbiGail Adams directs. People's Light & Theatre is located at 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, PA 19355. For tickets call 610.644.3500 or visit PeoplesLight.org. Dividing the Estate has been supported by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Philadelphia Theatre Initiative. Additional support has been provided by the Charlotte Cushman Foundation in memory of former Foundation Trustee Norma Testardi Egendorf Pomerantz.

Dividing the Estate is set in Harrison, Texas (based on Foote's hometown of Wharton). It is 1987, the height of the oil recession, a time in Texas when banks failed, real estate tanked, people lost their jobs, and communities fell apart. The Gordon family doesn't know how to make ends meet. They are land rich, but cash poor. A crisis in the family forces these self-absorbed, endearingly dysfunctional brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and servants to agree on a course of action to steady what looks like a very uncertain future.

"I first met Horton Foote in 1989 while preparing to produce his play The Traveling Lady here at People's Light," Director AbiGail Adams begins. "I wrote to him with questions. He responded with an invitation to visit him and his wife, Lillian, in Wharton, Texas. Carla Belver, who played Clara in The Traveling Lady and now plays Stella in Dividing the Estate, came with me."

"Our visit began with a tour. Horton wore a double breasted blazer and a silk ascot despite unbelievable heat. I nearly melted; he remained dapper and cool. He took us first to the once busy town square, now eerily empty, then to the well-maintained country club; we saw the abandoned railroad station, the ruined cotton gin, and finally the graveyard. There we walked from stone to stone as Horton told stories about the people buried under our feet. He was a great listener, especially sensitive to what was said underneath the words-the violence, the sorrow, the joy, and the deeply strange peculiarity of family life."

She continues, "Now, more than 20 years later as I prepare for Dividing the Estate, I think a lot about that trip, how remarkable it was-low key, but huge. Rather like Horton's plays."

"Dividing the Estate speaks to all of us on some level. Everyone has a story to tell about a family home-how the property was divided, who got left what-the arguments, betrayals, surprises. A story about how a grandparent, a parent, an uncle, an aunt or a cousin left this world and how those who remained either stuck together or fell apart. Horton Foote brings an unsentimental largeness of heart to the Gordon version of that universal saga. This is the kind of work I like to do best."

TICKET INFORMATION

Dividing the Estate previews on Wednesday, May 11th and Thursday, May 12th at 7:30pm. The play opens on Friday, May 13th at 8pm and runs through Sunday, June 5th. Audiences are encouraged to join the artists after each Thursday evening performance to discuss the production.

Single tickets range in price from $25 - $45. For tickets, call the box office at 610.644.3500. Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For more information or to purchase group tickets, call 610.647.1900 x134 or email charles@peopleslight.org. Actors, prices, performances dates and times are subject to change. Additional service charges may apply. Contact the box office for more details.

FREE EVENT INFORMATION

A Conversation About Horton Foote
With the Wall Street Journal's Terry Teachout and People's Light's Artistic Director AbiGail Adams
Sunday, April 10th, 6pm
Steinbright Stage

Join us to hear Wall Street Journal's Theatre Critic Terry Teachout and Artistic Director AbiGail Adams discuss Dividing the Estate and one of America's greatest playwrights, Horton Foote.

Choosing Conservation in the 21st Century: An Evening with Natural Lands Trust
Monday, May 16th, 7pm
Main Stage

In the play Dividing the Estate, the Gordon family is locked in a battle over whether to divide, sell, or keep the family estate. While the play is fictional, the story is a common reality, and in Southeastern Pennsylvania where land is a hot commodity, disagreements among family members can have huge implications. As open space dwindles and estates are developed, what options are available to landowners? How can they balance financial needs with their love of the land? Spend an evening at People's Light with panel members who have in-depth personal experience with the issue: a landowner whose family chose conservation, a developer, a lawyer who advises landowners, and the president of the regional conservation organization

Natural Lands Trust.

The panelists are:

- Molly Morrison, President, Natural Lands Trust
- Jim Fuller, Vice President, Hankin Group
- Tim Barnard, attorney, Barnard, Mezzanotte, Pinnie & Seelaus
- Grace Sharples Cooke, landowner whose mother donated an easement to NLT

THE SCOOP

With this production People's Light continues its program called The Scoop: History, Context, and Gossip, a lively discussion before every performance. Scenic Shop Foreman Dylan Jamison will discuss the world of the play, how and why it was chosen, as well as how it was cast, designed, and rehearsed. Refreshments will be available in the lobby before The Scoop begins and before the performance. The program will start one hour before curtain time and will take place in the theatre. No reservations are necessary.

ABOUT PEOPLE'S LIGHT

People's Light, a professional, not-for-profit theatre in Chester County, Pennsylvania, makes plays drawn from many sources to entertain, inspire, and engage our community. We extend our mission of making and experiencing theatre through arts education programs that excite curiosity about, and deepen understanding of, the world around us. These plays and programs bring people together and provide opportunities for reflection, discovery, and celebration. Founded in 1974, we produce seven to nine plays each season, in two black box theatres with 350 and 170 seats respectively, mixing world premieres, contemporary plays, and fresh approaches to classic texts for our 6-Play and Discovery Series.

BIOS

Horton Foote (Playwright) once commented on his own writing saying, "I know that people think I have a certain style, but I think style is like the color of the eyes. I don't know that you choose that." Foote was born in Wharton, Texas, a wisp of a town filled with Foote family relatives, Texas heat, and a failing economy. Foote transformed Wharton into the fictionAl Harrison, Texas, which would serve as the backdrop for many of his plays, including Dividing the Estate. Foote left his hometown at the age of 16. He traveled by bus to California and ended his journey at the Pasadena Playhouse where he planned to pursue a career in acting. After studying in California, he moved to New York to further his acting career. There he met legendary choreographer Agnes De Mille who asked him if he had ever considered writing. He replied, "What would I ever write about?" To which she responded, "Write what you know." He set out to do just that and his writing received more acclaim than his time on the boards. He wrote for television, including an episode for The Gabby Hayes Show. Over the course of his expansive career he wrote screenplays (most notably To Kill a Mockingbird, Tender Mercies, and The Trip to Bountiful) and plays (including Wharton Dance, The Trip to Bountiful, The Young Man from Atlanta, The Carpetbagger's Children, The Traveling Lady, and The Orphans' Home Cycle). His film work was acknowledged with two Academy Awards for Best Screenplay, for the 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird and the 1983 film Tender Mercies. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1995 for his play The Young Man from Atlanta, The Drama Desk Award in 2006 for Lifetime Achievement, and the Medal of Arts, awarded to him in 2000 by President Clinton. He married Lillian Vallish in 1945 and the two were married for 47 years, until her death in 1992. She is said to have been a great creative ally and supporter of her husband, and served as a producer on several of his films. The two had four children: Horton Jr., Daisy (a playwright), Walter, and Hallie. HAllie Foote, an actress, is respected as the chief interpreter of her father's work. Horton Foote died at the age of 92 in 2009. He was in Hartford, Connecticut - working on The Orphans' Home Cycle while his screenplay of To Kill a Mockingbird was being produced at Hartford Stage. He worked until the end. A writer to his core, he once said, "I don't think I'll ever stop writing. I write almost every day. I'd write plays even if they were never done again. You're at the mercy of whatever talent you have."

AbiGail Adams (Director) is Artistic Director of the People's Light & Theatre Company. During her 33-year association with the Theatre, she has directed more than 60 plays. Recent productions include Legacy of Light, Nathan the Wise, The Day of the Picnic, Getting Near to Baby, Theophilus North, Twelfth Night, Something You Did, Fabulation, The Member of the Wedding, and In the Blood. Abbey served for ten years on the faculty at Swarthmore College and has also taught at New York University, Bryn Mawr College, Carnegie Mellon University and the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario. She has served as a panelist and site reporter for the NEA and holds an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Ursinus College.

Carla Belver (StElla Gordon) marks this as her 38th production with People's Light & Theatre, her last performance being The Day of the Picnic. She has been nominated twice for a Barrymore Award, once for The Last Yankee and then for All My Sons at the Arden Theatre. Some of her favorite roles at People's Light include Toys in the Attic, Three Hotels, A Lesson from Aloes, The O'Connor Girls, and A Lovely Sunday at Creve Coeur. She recently performed at Act II Playhouse as Ethel in On Golden Pond and was in Pittsburgh this past fall at City Theatre in the world premiere of The Morini Strad. This coming fall she will return to the Arden in August, Osage County.
Elena Bossler (Sissie) recently performed The Lt. of Inishmore with Theatre Exile. She has also worked with Gas and Electric Arts (Barrymore Nom.), Azuka Theatre, PYP, and many more - she is also a graduate of Temple University. She will be returning to the Adi Theater in New Delhi, India where she previously toured a one-woman show. Elena is represented by the Diverse Talent Agency for voiceover in Los Angeles.

Lou Ferguson (Doug) last appeared at The Wilma in Athol Fugard's Coming Home. He has appeared everywhere from television to film, regional theatre to Broadway. His Broadway credits include Seven Guitars, Two Trains Running, and Playboy of the West Indies. Regional credits include The Bluest Eye, Drowning Crow, Everyman, Les Blancs, Night of the Iguana, The Hasty Heart, and Oedipus the King. Mr. Ferguson's television credits include Jonny Zero, Third Watch, Law & Order, Another World, and General Hospital. Film credits include Attica, The Interpreter, Maid in Manhattan, Stone Mansion, Radical Jack, I Like It Like That, No Place to Hide, and The Tested.

 

Victoria Frings (Emily) makes her People's Light & Theatre debut with Dividing the Estate. Her Philadelphia credits include: The Threepenny Opera (Polly Peachum) at The Arden Theatre, Leaving (Zuzana) and Rock 'n' Roll (Gillian/Magda/Deirdre) both at the Wilma Theater, A 24-Hour The Bald Soprano with Brat Productions (which garnered a Barrymore nomination for Best Ensemble), and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Titania) with Shakespeare in Clark Park. This summer she will perform the role of Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. Victoria holds a degree in both Environmental Studies and Science, Technology and Society Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. She has also studied with the American Conservatory Theater in her hometown of San Francisco.

Amy Hutchins (Pauline) has performed regionally in The Foreigner (Festival Stage of Winston-Salem); Twelfth Night (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey); It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play (Arkansas Repertory Theatre); Cymbeline, Othello, and London Assurance (American Players Theatre); Love's Labours Lost and Comedy of Errors (Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival); The Importance of Being Earnest (Contemporary American Theater Company); The Weir, Merchant of Venice, Macbeth, and Lovers and Executioners (Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival). New York credits include: The Tempest (The Pearl Theatre Company); Tamer Tamed (Misfit Toys Repertory Co); The Flood and The House of Bernarda Alba (Prospect Theater Company); Two Gentlemen of Verona (Shakespeare in the Parking Lot); and Dreamhouse: The Musical (The Midtown Internation Theatre Festival). Member: AEA and SAG.
Aimé Kelly (Cathleen) has worked in both the Philadelphia and New York City areas for the past three years as both an actress and teaching artist with Philadelphia Young Playwrights and Epic Theatre Ensemble. She attained her B.F.A. at the University of the Arts. She was recently seen in Run Mourner Run with Flashpoint Theatre Company and the Othello NEA Tour with Epic Theatre Ensemble.
Emilie Krause (Irene Ratliff) was previously seen as Mille & Pauline in Legacy of Light. Recent roles include Evie in Evie's Waltz (Simpatico), Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Shakespeare in Clark Park) and Annalee in 516 (PTW). Other credits include PlayPenn (2009, 2010), Brat Productions, and Philadelphia Young Playwrights
Christian Pedersen (Son Gordon) appeared earlier this year as Rodolpho in A View from the Bridge at Gulfshore Playhouse. Christian has also performed at Shakespeare Theatre of NJ, Arkansas Rep, Ivoryton Playhouse, NJ Rep, Vineyard Playhouse, and Berkshire Theatre Festival. In New York he has appeared off-Broadway in Austin Pendleton's Vieux Carré (Pearl), The Fabulous Kane Sisters (Cherry Lane), Another Vermeer (Abingdon), and most recently in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (3LD). TV credits include The Good Wife, Fringe, Damages, One Life to Live, All My Children.
Kathryn Petersen (Mary Jo) has appeared in over sixty productions regionally, most recently appearing in Nathan the Wise at People's Light. Kathryn is also a produced and published playwright, having written six of the last seven holiday Pantos produced at People's Light. Kathryn is a long-time company member at that theatre, an Assistant Professor at Arcadia University, and is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in Playwriting at Temple University.

Marcia Saunders (Lucille) was most recently seen this past fall playing Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Over the years she's enjoyed appearing in a multitude of productions playing such roles as Amanda in The Glass Menagerie, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, and Claire in A Delicate Balance, for which she won the 2004 Barrymore Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress. She also received a nomination for Best Actress in Man From Nebraska and numerous nominations for her roles in A View from the Bridge, A Flea in Her Ear, Hard Times, My Mother Said I Never Should, Molly's Delicious, and Six Characters in Search of an Author. Off-Broadway: The Atlantic Theatre Company's production of The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow. She is the recipient of Emmy

awards for her narration of Teacher TV on the Discovery Channel.

Cathy Simpson (Mildred) has been a company member at People's Light since 1994, and was last seen here in Gossamer. Other PLTC performances include Six Characters in Search of an Author, Something You Did, Fabulation, Macbeth, Jungalbook, A Higher Place in Heaven, Pretty Fire, Arthur's Stone, Merlin's Fire, Measure for Measure, In the Blood, and He Held Me Grand-reprising her role in that production at Indiana Rep. Cathy has also performed with The Philadelphia Theatre Company, Interact Theatre, Freedom Theatre, Philadelphia Young Playwrights, Philly Shakes, Wilma Theater and Arden Theatre. Cathy's regional credits include the Studio Theatre, Arena Stage, The Kennedy Center, Woolly Mammoth, Olney Theatre Center, Source Theatre, Metro Stage, Roundhouse Theatre, The St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre, and St. Louis Rep. She has received two nominations and one "special mention" from the Helen Hayes Awards in Washington, D.C., and is a 2002 Barrymore Award winner for her performance in Freedom Theatre's production of The Old Settler. Cathy also received a Barrymore nomination for her portrayal of the Welfare Lady in PLTC's production of In the Blood. She has recently won a Kevin Kline Award in St. Louis for her performance in The Black Rep's production of A Song for Coretta. Cathy is a member of the Freedom Rising Company at the National Constitution Center and the American Historical Theatre here in Philadelphia.

Graham Smith (Lewis) has been a PLTC company member since 1999. Work at PLTC includes Buks/Author in Valley Song, the singing Hedge Hog in More Grimm Tales, Tobias in A Delicate Balance, Danforth in The Crucible, Henry Ford in Camping with Henry and Tom, Argan in The Miser, Toby in Twelfth Night, and more recently Lay Brother in Nathan the Wise, and Lear in King Lear. Other recent work includes Salter in A Number and Rance in What the Butler Saw with the NC Stage Company and Gonzalo in The Tempest at Actors' Theatre of Louisville, as well as Stephano in The Tempest with the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival. He has appeared in over 180 plays, 40 of which were works of Shakespeare. He has been married to Audrey Brown since 1991. He began his career in 1961 touring the U.S. with his father's family-vaudeville-magic show, Saucy Sorcery, a one-man show with others. B.A. Davidson College, M.F.A. Hilberry Classic Theatre.

Greg Wood (Bob) was last seen at People's Light as Peter in Legacy of Light. Other PLTC roles include Peter in Absence, Marvin in Falsettos, Johnny in Misalliance and Tartuffe in Tartuffe. Recent credits include: Emperor Joseph II in Amadeus at the Walnut St. Theatre, Philleas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days for the Delaware Theatre Co, Antony in Antony & Cleopatra and Cyrano in Cyrano de Bergerac with the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, and Mr. Lockhart in the Arden Theatre Co.'s production of The Seafarer. Film and television credits include: The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Happening, The Answer Man, Bereavement, Bottleworld, Killing Emmett Young, A Gentlemen's Game, Law & Order, Ed, Hack, and Homicide.

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