About theater, Hallie adds, "I get homesick for it. Everyone bemoans the loss of Broadway, but now it's all shifting to smaller houses. It seems to kind of work itself out. Boy, I'll tell you, these young actors that are in here... It gives you hope, because they all love theater. And there is something wonderful about the whole process of working on a play--going from beginning to end and having the whole experience at once. And have a live audience." (Incidentally, the young actors to whom she refers are Jamie Bennett, Margot White, and Ebon Moss-Bachrach, who play Warren, his girl friend Jeannie, and best friend Jimmy, respectively; Ken Marks plays Rita's husband Asa.)
Although Hallie is optimistic about theater and theater audiences, and Daily appreciates the influence regional houses are having, Horton is less than pleased at the current state of affairs. "Unfortunately, half of America isn't aware of theater," he says. "I've been in the theater a long time, and I think the quality of plays is much stronger, but it is no longer a majority kind of theater. I've made my peace with it."
In the Foote household, theater is a majority thing, of course. "There was a lot of music around," Daisy says of her New Boston upbringing, "and all of those things feed this. I started writing in high school, and in college Dad encouraged us to write. He said not to get too specific about it, but to learn about a lot of different things. I wrote short stories in college and then in the summer of my senior year, my parents had gotten an apartment back in New York, and I studied playwriting with [actor/director/teacher] Herbert Berghof. Herbert liked my writing a lot, and he actually did a play of mine after I got out of college--a play called Villa Capri."
Working in the theater wasn't as clear-cut for Hallie, who says about acting, "I kind of pushed it down. I'd gotten married, and I didn't know what I wanted, and I felt really lost. One day it came to me just out of the blue like a bolt of lightning. It sounds really crazy. So I went and talked to my father, and he said, 'Well, maybe you should study with somebody.' He asked around, and I ended up going out to California and studying with a woman called Peggy Feury."
Horton picks up the story of Hallie's progress. "She lucked out, because [Feury] was a great teacher." Discussing When They Speak About Rita, but also talking in general, he goes on to say, "I think that's one of the great unspoken tragedies of the play that you get in life all the time. I think the greatest gift we can be given is to know what we want to do. And so many people don't know what they want to do." The Footes know--they've got the gift.