(Feingold’s article appeared in the Village Voice, 8/22.)
"I wasn't born a conversationalist, you know," Dolores (Hallie Foote) tells her lawyer husband, Robert (Devon Abner), early in the first of the three one-acts that make up Horton Foote's Harrison, TX (Primary Stages). "I gritted my teeth and forced myself to converse."
She might, to some degree, be speaking for her author. Foote, who died three years ago at age 92, spent much of his career enshrining, in a long series of plays, the conversation of Texans who were not born conversationalists, and who often might have preferred to remain silent. Swatches of sudden taciturnity streak his texts; the conversations they interrupt, as flat and repetitive as the surrounding landscape, encase the interlocking histories of seemingly innumerable families, through multiple generations. Harrison, Texas, the midsize town where the bulk of Foote's oeuvre takes place, has become a locale so familiar to New York theatergoers over the decades that the more attentive could probably draw you a map of the town or forecast its weather—which, like its dialogue, is mostly dry, with occasional spells of ferocious heat or unexpectedly violent storms.