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A Young Lady of Property

A Young Lady of Property
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Biz Staff Pick!
Author: Horton Foote
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service (cover may change)
Format: Softcover
Pub. Date: 1983
ISBN-10: 0822212919
ISBN-13: 9780822212911
Cast Size: 6 female, 3 male

About the Play:

A Young Lady of Property has long been a favourite of acting teachers for female/female scenes.

A Young Lady of Property is a full-length drama by Horton Foote. A sassy teenage girl dreams of being a movie starlet, burying the pain of her mother's death as her troubled father courts another woman. This volume also includes several one-act dramas. The Dancers, John Turner Davis, The Oil Well, The Old Beginnings, and A Young Lady of Property are especially recommended for school and contest use.

A Young Lady Of Property: Wilma, a lonely girl of fifteen, lives with her aunt. Her only memories of her saintly mother are tied up in the house Mom left to her. Dad Lester, she says, broke her mother's heart and is now planning to marry Mrs. Leighton, a woman the town despises. Wilma and her her best friend Arabella dream of fleeing to Hollywood and becoming movie stars. But in a wistful moment Wilma confesses to Arabella that what she really wants more than anything else is to live again with her father in the house her mother left her, and since she knows that will never happen, she would like to marry in a few years and live in her house with her husband and children. In the absence of a real family, the house has become everything to her – her whole identity based on this, her one possession, which makes her 'a young lady of property'. Wilma's gentle, happy realization that her real purpose in life is to remain here as a wife and mother in this house she loves is shattered when she discovers that her father is putting the house up for sale and moving the family to Houston. Not only is she losing her father, she is losing the one thing that represents a safe and happy future to her. She dashes out frantically, realizing the only person who can help her now is Mrs. Leighton. And to her great joy she discovers that Mrs. Leighton is a person of warmth and sympathy. She saves Wilma's house for her and helps Wilma realize that her father, after all, has a right to marry again. And Wilma has her house safely again to fill with life so that she need never be lonely. (Cast: 6 female, 3 male)

A Young Lady of Property debuted live on Philco Television Playhouse in April of 1953. The original production starred Kim Stanley and Joanne Woodward. Its TV origins can be sensed in its intermissionless 90-minute length. Although it was never produced on Broadway, it has been revived frequently in Los Angeles over the years and is now considered a staple in Horton Foote's canon of plays. The play has become a favourite scene study vehicle in acting classes and workshops and has become a popular choice for school and community theatre productions.

The Dancers: Horace, a boy of sixteen, is visiting his sister who has arranged a date for him with Emily Crews, the prettiest and most popular girl in town. The date is for a dance – but Horace claims that he doesn't know how to dance. His sister coaches him a little, persuades him he'll do very well, and goes off to call for Emily. And in Emily's living room, waiting for her to appear, he discovers that Emily is being forced by her mother to go to the dance with him; and in great humiliation he leaves. He finds himself in a soda fountain where he meets Mary Catherine, a young girl who, like Horace, lacks confidence and so cripples her own considerable abilities and attractiveness. The two lonely young people are drawn to each other. Horace asks Mary Catherine to another dance, but at the same time his sister and Emily's mother again arrange for Horace to escort Emily, this time with Emily's cooperation, because she's unhappy about the way she treated Horace. But Horace stands firm; he's asked Mary Catherine, he wants to take Mary Catherine and he will. And he does. As Horace and Mary Catherine are about to leave for the dance they admit to each other their fears of not being good enough dancers, of not being popular – but, secure in the knowledge of one another's liking and respect, they start off for their first dance with more confidence and happiness than they've ever felt before. (Cast: 7 female, 3 male)

The Old Beginnings: Deals with the relationship between a domineering father and Tommy, his son, who loves his father but must break away from him in order to give his own personality a chance to develop. The father is well-meaning enough, but refuses to acknowledge that his son is a grown man, capable of making his own decisions. At the climax of the play, Tommy almost gives in and returns to his father to live and work but realizes beyond doubt that it would only be the same thing all over again; he must go off on his own until the time his father will come to realize that he is right in what he is doing. (Cast: 4 female, 7 male)

John Turner Davis: A tender story of a kindly, childless couple who become interested in a boy whose aunt and uncle, migrant workers, have deserted him. Though the boy, John Turner, yearns for the return of his relatives, he comes to accept the fact that they have indeed left him behind, and turns to the couple who have befriended him and finds a permanent home with them. (Cast: 4 female, 7 male, extras.)

The Death Of The Old Man: It is a simple story, chiefly one of mood and character in which the protagonist is an old man who lies dying and worrying about what will happen to the daughter who has cared for him. His other children, for whom he sacrificed so much, have now left home and have their own lives, which they will not alter to include any provision for their sister. Then a distant cousin, whom the old man had helped in past years, comes and offers the daughter a home with her on the place which the old man had helped her to buy. The daughter is provided for and the gentle old man can die peacefully. (Cast: 3 female, 4 male)

The Oil Well: Will Thornton, a lifelong farmer in Texas, has always lived with the dream of some day finding oil on his land. Now it seems his dream is coming true – suddenly local real estate men are rushing in to buy his land, oil men from out of town want to take leases on it, and Will and his two children are ready to forget all about the day to day requirements of planting and harvesting a crop. Only Mrs. Thornton remains aloof and unimpressed by all the excitement. She wants Will to have his oil well, but they've been disappointed too many times before and she knows that only the land and a crop in the land can be counted on to feed them and keep a roof over their heads. Will loses an opportunity to sell the mineral rights on the land and takes a lease. The well is about to be drilled, neighbours and relations for miles around have arrived, and all the Thorntons are caught up in the excitement of planning what they'll do when the well comes in. Will, who has been able to do so little of all he'd wanted for his wife and children, at last sees a chance of giving them everything they'd never had. But the well comes in dry, and only Mrs. Thornton's love and faith in him can sustain him through the bitter disappointment. (Cast: 3 female, 5 male)

About the Playwright:

Horton Foote (1916-2009) was a prolific American playwright and screenwriter with an ear for the resilient spirit of daily life in the small-town southern US states. Known as a writer's writer, he switched readily from the stage to television and film. He received Academy Awards for his screenplay adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird and his original screenplay Tender Mercies. During the Golden Age of television, he authored numerous notable live television dramas. 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 1995 Pulitzer Prize and his first Tony nomination for his play, The Young Man From Atlanta.