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Book Report: Horton Foote's Three Trips to Bountiful

One of the great things about working in an academic library is that when I have three auditions in a week, I can pretty much walk upstairs to the P section and grab copies of the plays. Not that our collection is all impressive compared to other such libraries (I had browsing privileges in one of the five great superlibraries for five years, so my comparisons are just a trifle unfair perhaps), but it was three-for-three for me this summer.

In fact, what I got was not just the script for The Trip to Bountiful but Horton Foote’s Three Trips to Bountiful, which included the telescript, playscript and screenplay. For those who don’t know, and why should they, the thing started as one of those plays-on-television they used to have in the fifties. It was so successful (and Lilian Gish was such a macher) that it was produced on Broadway the next year. Then it sorta kinda faded into the that-was-interesting history of American Theeyayter; Horton Foote did not become the Great American Playwright (or if he did, as some argue, he did certainly was not considered the Great American Playwright), and the play was not revived on Broadway. There were a few regional productions, and it was done in London I think, and there was an off-Broadway production, but it was not in the canon. The people who liked it, liked it a lot, but most people had never heard of it, or of Horton Foote for that matter.

Then some of those people who liked it made a movie, and that (I think) was the big move to Horton Foote becoming at least a Great American Playwright to those people who think about those things. Certainly Barbara Moore and David Yellin, who edited the Three Trips book think so. Well. Different people like different things, because people are different one to another, which is what makes life interesting and fun. And I am glad that Ms. Moore and Mr. Yellin put the book together, because knowing (a) I am just interested in adaptation, as a process and a problem, and (2) the differences between the three and the interviews and such that supplement them in the volume did provide me with some interesting and perhaps useful background when I was working on the show.

And no, I still haven’t seen the movie. And I don’t think there is any recording of the original television play.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.