NVA Announces Horton Foote's THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL, Beginning 2/1
NVA will present THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL, Horton Foote's beautiful American classic about finding your way home, in honor of founding Ensemble member Sandra Ellis-Troy (1942-2010.) NVA is thrilled to have Ellis-Troy's close friend Sylvia M'Lafi Thompson anchoring the cast in the pivotal role of Carrie Watts.
When NVA's production opens in February, it will be just the third production to cast African-American actors as the Watts family - a decision that has been blessed by Foote's daughter Hallie in previous productions. BOUNTIFUL is directed by Executive Artistic Director Kristianne Kurner, and features Sylvia M'Lafi Thompson as Carrie Watts, Walter Murray as her son Ludie, and Yolanda Franklin as Ludie's wife Jessie Mae. THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL begins previews February 1, and runs through March 3, 2013. Opening night is February 9. Tickets can be purchased at www.NewVillageArts.org or by calling 760-433-3245.
All Carrie Watts wants is to see her hometown of Bountiful, Texas before she dies. Her son would rather bury the past and her daughter-in-law can't understand why she wants to leave the city. A fragile old woman to those around her, Mrs. Watts yearns to plunge her hands into the dirt, to hear the birds sing, to breathe the country air, and nothing will stop her from returning to her home.
"This is a free country. No sheriff or king or president will keep me from going back to Bountiful" -Carrie Watts, THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL
THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL was originally written by Horton Foote as a teleplay in 1953. It starred Lillian Gish and Eva Marie Saint, who reprised their roles when the play went to Broadway later that year. Another prolific American actress, Geraldine Page, took on the role of Carrie Watts in 1985 in an Oscar-nominated film version written by Foote, winning the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance. A critically-acclaimed revival at New York's Signature Theatre Company in 2006 featured Lois Smith as Carrie, and HAllie Foote (Horton's daughter) as Jessie Mae.
A Note From Director Kristianne Kurner:
"THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL has long been one of my favorite experiences - both as a film and a play. I remember watching the film in high school and being completely transported by Geraldine Page's performance. I was then fortunate enough to see Lois Smith perform the role on Broadway, and it was again an experience I will never forget. Originally, I had planned to direct the show with the great Sandra Ellis-Troy portraying Carrie Watts, but when Sandy passed away, I put the play aside. It wasn't until seeing Sylvia M'Lafi Thompson in A RAISIN IN THE SUN at Moxie Theatre that I realized I found another great actor to bring this role to life, and asked her to become involved. THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL is a beautiful play about what you choose to do when your life doesn't turn out the way you expect. And that intense desire to find your way home. I can't wait to share it in our intimate space in Carlsbad Village."
A Note From Actor Sylvia M'Lafi Thompson:
"I am immersed in a deep abiding love affair with Horton Foote's magical ability to timelessly speak to each of our hearts in THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL. There is simply too much to say about how much Carrie Watts reverence of the past and her spiritual faith resonate within me. I know there are things I know about her and things she knows about me. It is the nuances. It is as much what is not said that takes on this incredible journey of relentlessness, passion and courage. Carrie Watts paints a portrait with her every breath, her every movement, her every choice. I am riveted by her layers, by her sheer un-offensive guts. Memories, and for some an unquenchable thirst to hold on to them - keep the flame of them lit - for sometimes it is only the memories that affirm that our existence ever mattered. My heart beats faster every time I think about [beginning rehearsals.]"
Horton Foote, the Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist and Oscar-winning screenwriter, was born on March 14, 1916, in Wharton, Texas. In a career that spanned 68 years, he had plays produced on Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway and at many regional theatres around the country. His plays include The Last of the Thorntons, The Young Man from Atlanta, Night Season, Laura Dennis, Vernon Early, The Roads to Home, The Carpetbagger's Children, The Day Emily Married, The Chase, Tomorrow, The Habitation of Dragons, The Traveling Lady and Dividing the Estate. He received Academy Awards for his screenplay adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird and his original screenplay, Tender Mercies. For his 1997 television adaptation of William Faulkner's Old Man, he won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing of a Miniseries. He received the Pulitzer Prize and his first Tony nomination for his play The Young Man From Atlanta. In 1995, he was given the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Achievement Off-Broadway and the Outer Critics Circle Special Achievement Award for the 1994-95 Signature Season of his plays. In 1996 he was elected to the Theatre Hall of Fame. In 2000 he received the National Medal of Arts Award from President Clinton. In 2006 The Trip to Bountiful won the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Revival, and Foote was given the Drama Desk Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2008, his play Dividing the Estate won the OBIE Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award for its Off-Broadway production. In 2008, the play transferred to Broadway's Booth Theater under the auspices of Lincoln Center Theater, earning Foote his second Tony nomination for Best Play.
KRISTIANNE KURNER is the co-founder and the Executive Artistic Director of New Village Arts, where she has directed The Santaland Diaries, Summer and Smoke, The Man Who, Be Aggressive, Bulrusher, Humble Boy, True West, Sailor's Song, The Waverly Gallery, Still Life and Orphans and co-directed The Playboy of the Western World, The Two Gentlemen of Verona and A Lie of the Mind. She has been seen on the NVA stages many times, most recently as Amanda in Waving Goodbye and Heidi in The Heidi Chronicles. Her work has received numerous awards, including San Diego Theatre Critics Circle and Patte Awards for Theatre Excellence. Kurner has her bachelor's degree in theatre from the College of William & Mary in Virginia and her Masters degree in acting from The Actors Studio/New School.
The cast is helmed by Craig Noel Award-Winner Sylvia M'Lafi Thompson as Carrie Watts, with Walter Murray as Ludie and Yolanda Franklin as Jessie Mae. Alexis Young plays Thelma, the young woman who crosses paths with Carrie on her journey. Rounding out the cast are David Macy-Beckwith, Brenon Christofer, and John Tessmer in multiple roles. Sylvia M'Lafi Thompson is an esteemed, award-winning actor who has appeared in lauded roles on every major San Diego stage, most recently in Moxie Theatre's A Raisin in the Sun, for which she received a Craig Noel Award nomination. Known for her strength, Thompson has played both matriarchs and patriarchal roles typically played by men (the Narrator in Cygnet's Our Town, and the title role in Othello, notably), and she brings that commanding presence, combined with a gut-wrenching vulnerability to the role of Carrie Watts in her NVA debut. Walter Murray, co-founder of the San Diego Black Ensemble Theatre, has been seen on the NVA stage several times in The Man Who, Julius Caesar, and Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Yolanda Franklin, making her NVA debut, is also a 2012 Craig Noel Award nominee for her lead role in OnStage Playhouse's The Sugar Witch, and her featured role in Moxie's A Raisin in the Sun. Yolanda has also worked with Moxie Theatre in Dead Man's Cell Phone, Gibson Girl, and with Cygnet Theatre in Our Town. Sixteen-year-old Alexis Young is a relative newcomer to San Diego stages, but has already stacked up impressive credits at San Diego Musical Theatre, San Diego Opera, North Coast Repertory Theatre, The Old Globe, and San Diego Rep's In The Wake. David Macy-Beckwith and Brenon Christofer both appeared in NVA's season opener Much Ado About Nothing; Macy-Beckwith has also worked with NVA in Summer and Smoke and Beginner's Heaven. John Tessmer appeared at NVA in S.R.O.; Tessmer has been acting for over 20 years, with credits at North Coast Repertory Theatre, Lamb's Players, Intrepid Shakespeare Company, Mo'olelo Performing Arts, and Diversionary Theatre locally, and Idaho Rep, Laguna Playhouse, and Colorado Shakespeare Festival, regionally.
The Design team brings together an incredible group of artists who are all familiar with New Village Arts and are ready for the challenge of bringing a multiple-location set to life, including the contrast of cramped, congested city-living to the wide-open country expanse of Bountiful, Texas. Janell Cannon is the writer and illustrator of the Stellaluna Children's book series; she has been offering her unique artistic eye to NVA sets and various projects for years, and is now taking on the full responsibility for the set design that will create the world of BOUNTIFUL. NVA favorite Mary Larson is taking on the 1940s period costumes that she does so beautifully - as in NVA's Death of a Salesman. Christopher Loren Renda who has designed for NVA on numerous productions, including: Buried Child, Of Mice and Men, Thom Pain, and Sweet Storm, will do the lighting design. Bill Bradbury will compose and record original music during the rehearsal process, with engineering assistance from Justin Lang. NVA's Foundry Manager Laura Kurner will design properties.