Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Masters are all Dying Off...

Sad news yesterday.

Horton Foote died yesterday. You may not have heard of him, but you've probably seen his work.

He wrote the screenplay for the adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird for which he won an Academy Award. He also wrote the screenplay version of Of Mice and Men (the one starring Gary Sinise and John Malkovitch which I truly, truly love), as well as many other works including The Trip to Bountiful and The Young Man from Atlanta, a play that garnered him the Pulitzer.

I didn't know the man and haven't read all of his plays but from what I've heard from others is that he was a class act.

He's the kind of hero playwright that when you look at his body of work (and his integrity) you think...yeah, that's the kind of playwright I want to become. That's why I am in this business.

I don't know but I think there was really only a handful of these types of modern masters.

Samuel Beckett. Harold Pinter. Edward Albee. Arthur Miller. Tennessee Williams. Clifford Odetts. Eugene O'Neill. Thornton Wilder. Lilian Hellman. Wendy Wasserstein. Sam Shepard.

What was so wonderful to me about Foote was his devotion to writing about family and the common man. He didn't get sucked into writing what was "hot" or "flashy" or go for any big ideas. He wrote fascinating characters that we could all relate to because we all grew up in a family and understand the dynamics of those relationships.

Seems many of the master modern playwrights are gone now or are coming to their final days.

We lost Harold Pinter in December last year.

Not to be all grim and dreary but really, how long will guys like Edward Albee, John Guare and Peter Schaffer last?

And who are the master playwrights that will replace them?