|The Foothill Theatre Company premiere of "Fair Use"
An exploration of the controversy surrounding Wallace Stegner's use of Mary HallockFoote's life and writing in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Angle of Repose.
FAIR USE productions include
New Heritage Theatre Company, Boise, ID, director, Sandy Cavanaugh: 2004,
Western Literature Association (staged
reading), Tucson, AZ, director: David Fenimore, 2002 Foothill Theatre Company, Nevada City, CA
(premiere), director: Lynne Collins, 2001
FAIR USE performs in Boise, Idaho, New Heritage Theatre Company.
FISTICUFFS in ACADEME? The Western Literature Association presents a staged reading of FAIR USE
Read an essay on the history and creation of the play.
What reviewers say
TIME: The Present
SETTING: The studies of Mary Hallock Foote and WS.
The living room and kitchen of Historian's house.
Various rooms, outdoor spaces, conveyances.
MHF (Mary Hallock Foote) - In the process of writing her memoirs, as well as letters to her friend Helena, she watches her life unfold. There are two versions of that life: a fictionalized version written by WS, and a more "precise" version (albeit also interpreted) by PLAYWRIGHT. MHF often comments and corrects.
WS - An extremely well-known and beloved American author. A novel he's written is based on a great deal of Foote's life, and also borrows freely from her memoirs and letters.
PLAYWRIGHT - A successful dramatist, she is in the midst of writing a play in which she attempts to present a fair perspective of Foote's life, as well as WS' possible reasons for changing that life. She has a husband, Skip, from whom she is estranged, and a six-year-old daughter, Emily. She and Emily are currently living at HISTORIAN's house.
HISTORIAN - Playwright's father, he's a retired University professor-an expert on nineteenth century Western lore and a writer of non-fiction, a man well-known and respected in his field. The only person "real" for him is PLAYWRIGHT; he does not interact with any other character. He reads constantly; often his reading material is drafts of his daughter's play.
ACTORS: The ACTORS exist in the PLAYWRIGHT's mind-as do WS and, to a lesser degree, MHF. They are always onstage, and, as the play begins, they are "tidy," performing the scenes she is writing. But as WS begins to butt in to correct his scenes, as they are asked to move between his version and PLAYWRIGHT's, they take on specific personalities.
MARY/SUSAN: The younger Mary Hallock Foote, as well as her fictional counterpart, Susan Burling Ward. Raised as Quakers in the mid-1800's, both women study art in New York, and join their engineering husbands in their endeavors throughout the Far West. Mary (more than Susan) is a respected illustrator and author of novels, articles, and stories; she often keeps her family-three children, a governess, various help, and husband-financially afloat with her work.
ARTHUR/OLIVER (A.D.): Arthur deWint Foote and his fictional counterpart, Oliver Ward. Talented, often prescient engineers, their dreams and schemes seldom bring them immediate recognition or success. Integrity matched with stubbornness often get in their ways. These qualities in Oliver make him somewhat of a romantic ideal; in Arthur they are often simply maddening.
ACTOR #1 (Female)
ACTOR #2 (Male-can be older)
ACTOR #3 (Male-can be younger)
first produced by
The Foothill Theatre Company
Nevada City, California
Philip Charles Sneed, Artistic Director
DIRECTOR: Lynne Collins
SET DESIGN: Arthur R. Rotch
LIGHTING DESIGN: Les Solomon
COSTUME DESIGN: Clare Henkel
SOUND DESIGN: Chris Christensen
ORIGINAL MUSIC: Tim Orr
STAGE MANAGER: Amy Frank
MHF: Sands Hall*
WS: Philip Charles Sneed*
PLAYWRIGHT: Carolyn Howarth*
HISTORIAN: David Silberman*
MARY/SUSAN: Eowyn Mader
ARTHUR/OLIVER: Gary Alan Wright*
ACTOR ONE: Karyn Casl
ACTOR TWO: John Brett
ACTOR THREE: Vince Tycer
* Member: Actor's Equity Association
ACT I: EIGHT
HISTORIAN (crossing into the kitchen): Another crackpot idea you've inserted into this play of yours. Stegner was not a misogynist.
PLAYWRIGHT: Read his books!
HISTORIAN (amused): I have. And I've been thinking. I bet Wally checked into fair use.
PLAYWRIGHT: What do you mean, "fair use?"
HISTORIAN: A copyright term. Folsom vs. March, 1841. Justice Storey.
PLAYWRIGHT: Is there anything you don't know?
HISTORIAN: When one works with historical documents, one has to know one's copyright law, and I bet Stegner knew it better than I do. Fair Use. "The guarantee of breathing space at the heart of copyright." Campbell. You must take into consideration how much is used in relation to the whole-
PLAYWRIGHT: Even his adulatory biographer, Jackson Benson, admits Mary Hallock Foote's letters compose over ten percent of the manuscript. Do the math: that's sixty out of six hundred pages written by someone else! And that's just the letters. Benson never mentions the use of Mary's Reminiscences. They're another thirty percent of the manuscript-at least. (HISTORIAN shrugs.) Dad! He made money off her work!
HISTORIAN: Commerciality. That's another aspect of Fair Use, all right. But aren't you doing the same thing? Aren't there words of Stegner's in this play you're writing?
PLAYWRIGHT: Most of them were hers to start with.
HISTORIAN: You've put the guy in a wheelchair. Wasn't the narrator of the novel- what's his name?
PLAYWRIGHT: Lyman Ward.
HISTORIAN: Isn't he in a wheelchair?
PLAYWRIGHT: WS is not meant to be Lyman Ward.
HISTORIAN: But it's clear he's meant to be Wallace Stegner.
PLAYWRIGHT (disingenuous): Now why on earth would you think WS is meant to be Stegner? His name is Waldo Strichinine. Woobedo Sczherazade. He's WS.
HISTORIAN: When you get sarcastic like that you remind me most unpleasantly of your mother.
PLAYWRIGHT (finding a quote): Do you know what Stegner tells Richard Etulain in that book of interviews you gave me? "As far as I'm concerned," he says, "the Mary Hallock Foote stuff had the same function as raw material, broken rocks out of which I could make any kind of wall I wanted to." So- Stegner's "stuff" is my "raw material." The "broken rocks" out of which I can make the wall I want to. He turned Mary into "Susan," a mewling, whining, narrow-minded little bigot, who hated her life, resented her husband-
HISTORIAN: Calm down! Why are you so angry-
PLAYWRIGHT: -none of which is the person I see when I read the Rems, or her wonderful letters. I see someone struggling with choices, with life turning out to be so very different than what she'd expected. Or dreamed of. (Her voice quivers.) He's so dismissive, disdainful. Of women.
HISTORIAN: Wally adored his wife! His mother was an inspiration to him all his life. And you are not a reliable source for this perspective, dear.
PLAYWRIGHT: And why is my perspective any less reliable than your big white patriarchal one?
HISTORIAN: Because- (He gives up.) Read his first novel, Big Rock Candy Mountain. It's heartbreakingly autobiographical. Terrible childhood. Awful father. Tearing all over the West, dragging his family along, looking for a fast way to make a buck. Digging for gold in Alaska, bootlegging in Sasketchawan, running a saloon in Salt Lake City-of all places. (They share a laugh; PLAYWRIGHT takes a note.) Yet in spite of dire poverty, his mother found a way to get Wally books-a piano!-nurtured him in the face of his father's contempt. Years later his dad shot himself-
PLAYWRIGHT: Shot himself? (She takes another note.)
HISTORIAN -first killing the woman he was shacking up with. Most of this is in that first novel: the man is the destroyer, the wife (his highest compliment) is patient, forbearing.
PLAYWRIGHT: "Patient?" "Forbearing!" As I won't be. Oh, Mother was-until she finally left you for someone who'd love her, who'd pay attention to-
HISTORIAN: That's enough!
Copyright Sands Hall 2001
WHAT REVIEWERS SAY…
back to top
Sands Hall's FAIR USE
premiered at The Foothill Theatre Company in Nevada City, May 2-27, 2001
…"Fair Use" is good theater, and theater companies…are encouraged to make it available to a wider audience. The ensuing discussion of literary ethics can only help prevent such literary "borrowing" in the future.
SACRAMENTO BEE, NEIGHBORS
A great deal is going on in this ambitious new play by Nevada County writer and actress Sands Hall. On one level, the play explores the considerable borrowing by novelist Wallace Stegner - an icon of the environmental movement in the 1960s and 1970s - in his Pulitzer-winning novel "Angle of Repose."
Many reviewers complimented the authenticity of the voice of the novel's leading female character. As it turns out, in creating that character, Stegner borrowed long passages - sometimes word for word - from letters of Mary Hallock Foote, a writer and illustrator who eventually settled in Grass Valley. Stegner also fictionalized any number of scenes drawn from Foote's autobiography. But Stegner didn't disclose the borrowing of Foote's writing.
In the process of teasing out this story, the play becomes a celebration of Foote's own life and work… In addition, Hall muses on the creative process in which all writers draw on the lives and experiences of others in their novels and plays.
Multiple levels of reality and fantasy and overlapping characters and plotlines make this a play that asks for a high level of attentiveness… There is a considerable payoff as the story develops-portions of the play's second half are breathtakingly beautiful.
This big ambitious play is a feast, with a broad view and savvy, intelligent perspective on life and history, literature and art, marriage and more.
SACRAMENTO NEWS AND REVIEW
In a remarkable and haunting first play now offered by the Foothill Theatre Company at the Nevada Theater in Nevada City, Sands Hall dashes an idol to the ground with almost biblical righteousness - and then weeps over the shards. But then is Hall delivering the blow? Or is it a character coyly titled, "Playwright?"
Although Hall is an accomplished actor and director, as well as a novelist, this is her first play. What's remarkable is its intricacy and almost symphonic interplay among characters, both real and imaginary, past blending with present, plain language and poetic eloquence …
… a memorable and remarkable work by a gifted artist…
A literary icon was brought to his knees Friday night in The Foothill Theatre Company's world premiere of Sands Hall's dense work about artistic appropriation. The play examines Wallace Stegner's alleged misuse of Grass Valley writer Mary Hallock Foote's letters and reminiscences in 1971 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, "Angle of Repose."
The play's protagonists are Stegner, the well-known writer, and a fictional playwright who is trying to restore Foote's true legacy. Stegner is accused of both misrepresenting Foote in his novel and, worse, passing off Foote's own observations about the land she traveled and lived in as his own work.
…leaves a viewer with the greatest appreciation for Foote as a writer, illustrator and an extraordinary woman who kept her family together through remarkable circumstances.
SACRAMENTO BEE, SCENE
|Sands performs the role of MHF in "Fair Use"
Fair Game? - or Fair Use?
by Sands Hall
"Take not from others to such an extent and in such a manner that you would be resentful if they took so from you." Joseph McDonald, on Fair Use
"As far as I'm concerned, the Mary Hallock Foote stuff had the same function as raw material, broken rocks out of which I could make any kind of wall I wanted to."
Wallace Stegner, to Richard Etulain
in Conversations on History and Literature.
Mary Hallock Foote, an acclaimed nineteenth century author and illustrator, published twelve novels, dozens of articles, and two collections of short stories. Among the authors and books she illustrated are Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and Longfellow's The Hanging of the Crane; she also illustrated some of Louisa May Alcott's work. Born in 1847 in New York State, Mary Hallock was raised a Quaker. Family friends included some of the brightest literary, philosophical, and political luminaries of the era. In 1876 she married Arthur Foote, a gifted engineer, and accompanied him into the Far West. Richard Gilder, editor of Scribners and then Century Magazine-and the husband of her dearest friend, Helena-published her illustrations of the places she was living. Impressed by her letters, he also encouraged her to begin writing for publication. The articles and fiction she produced, published by Century, The Atlantic Monthly and other magazines of the era, and eventually in novel form, were based on the exotic places her marriage took her: mining camps in California, Colorado, even Mexico; an irrigation project in an arid section of Idaho; and Grass Valley, California, where, for the latter years of their lives, Arthur was superintendent of the North Star Mine. For fifty years, from these various and often wild locales, Mary wrote to her friend Helena Gilder, and when she was in her eighties, composed her Reminiscences of a Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West. The memoirs were published in 1972, about thirty years after her death, by the Huntington Library Press.
Wallace Stegner is an acclaimed author and environmentalist. His oeuvre is vast, and includes twelve novels, four histories, three biographies, three story collections, and hundreds of essays and articles. One of the novels, Angle of Repose, won the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1971. The novel moves between the 1970s and a hundred years earlier: the fictional narrator of the book, Lyman Ward, lives in Grass Valley, and is sorting through the letters and documents of his fictional grandparents, Susan and Oliver Ward; periodically Stegner, in the guise of his narrator Ward, dramatizes that life. Stegner's character, Susan, is born in New York State and enjoys a Quaker and very literary upbringing. She marries an East Coast engineer, Oliver Ward, and follows him into the Far West. Thomas Hudson, editor of Scribners and then Century Magazine-and the husband of Susan's dearest friend, Augusta-publishes her illustrations of the places she is living, and encourages her to write for publication. The articles and fiction she produces are based on the exotic places her marriage takes her: mines in California, Colorado, and Mexico; a failed irrigation project in Idaho; for the latter years of their lives Oliver is superintendent of the Zodiac mine in Grass Valley. For fifty years, from these various and often wild locales, Susan writes her friend, Augusta. The letters are used throughout the novel to illustrate her character and depict her life, as are the memoirs Susan writes when she is in her eighties, which are never published.
If the Foote and Ward stories sound similar, they are. That similarity is the subject being explored by the play, Fair Use, which premieres at The Foothill Theatre Company in May, 2001.
In 1996, FTC's Artistic Director, Philip Charles Sneed, convened a group of company artists to discuss adapting Stegner's Angle of Repose for the stage. In that first meeting we discussed the many elements of the novel that moved and inspired us, but concern was expressed about animosity, aimed in Stegner's direction, which involved the local Foote family. I'd been asked to be the playwright on the project, and offered to track down what I could. I started by reading Foote's Reminiscences, and was immediately charmed by her beguiling, intelligent voice. As I'd expected-from what I already knew about the controversy-there were many similarities between Foote's life and that of Stegner's Susan Ward's. What I did not expect was to come across long, verbatim passages that I'd just finished reading in Angle of Repose . It is natural, when one is reading a novel, to assume-unless informed otherwise-that the author has written everything included in its pages. I'd been very impressed by Susan's "voice," assuming that Stegner had written the letters and memoirs from which his narrator, Lyman Ward, quotes so voluminously.
After I'd run across several examples-single-spaced, indented sections Lyman Ward tells the reader are from "my grandmother's unpublished reminiscences, written when she was in her eighties, "I looked for and to my temporary relief found an acknowledgment:
My thanks to JM and her sister for the loan of their ancestors. Though I have used many details of their lives and characters, I have not hesitated to warp both personalities and events to fictional needs. This is a novel which utilizes selected facts from their real lives. It is in no sense a family history.
I was relieved. The world righted itself. Stegner was, after all, one of my literary heroes. But as I read on, "selected facts" hardly seemed an adequate description of what it was Stegner had "borrowed" from the Reminiscences. In addition to many long, verbatim passages, innumerable incidents described by Foote are dramatized in the novel. The scenes are beautifully written, in Stegner's effective literary style, but often incorporate Footes' images and her very language. This seemed to amount to more than "selected facts."
And what about the letters from "Susan" to "Augusta?" I journeyed to Stanford University's Library of Special Collections, where many of the Footes' historical documents are stored, and went through box after box of her letters, my copy of Angle of Repose open beside me. There are few differences: short deleted sections with transitions provided by Stegner, melding of several letters into one, etc.; with very few exceptions, almost every letter included in the novel was written by Mary Hallock Foote. And here too, incidents described in the letters are often dramatized as scenes.
I took the opportunity to explore the Stanford Library stacks, tracking down reviews of Angle of Repose in decades-old magazines. "Most of the book is....devoted to Susan Burling, and she is its great strength," wrote the New Statesman. The Atlantic Monthly opined that Susan's letters are "a triumph of verisimilitude." Most troubling was The New Yorker, which praised the Burlings' "nomad life," which "her entrancing personality and her husband's resolute love for her turned into a triumphantly American Odyssey." The review does not mention the modern part of the story, or Stegner's narrator, Lyman Ward, at all; furthermore, this description emphatically does not describe the plot of Stegner's novel, in which Susan becomes an adulteress, by her actions her youngest child drowns, and she and Oliver live in an icy, bitter silence to the ends of their lives-Stegner's "angle of repose."
(The phrase "angle of repose" is one Stegner discovered in Foote's Reminiscences, an engineering term she knew because of her husband. It is a life metaphor she points out: the angle at which a given material (sand, rocks, water) will no longer move, or slide. Foote uses it in a sense that has to do with rest, even contentment; Stegner's use of it is far more dismal: his narrator actually defines it as "horizontal, permanently.")
I met with members of the Foote family, all of whom have been infinitely helpful: Mary's granddaughter, Evelyn Gardiner, and her son, Bob; Tyler Micoleau, husband of another granddaughter, Janet Micoleau (the "J.M." of that mysterious dedication); and great-grandchildren Steven and Elizabeth. (Janet herself is in a nursing home; the family maintains that her distress at the Stegner debacle contributed to her tenure there. Marion Conway, a third granddaughter, is deceased, but her husband, Ray, carries the torch of outrage on the family's behalf.) They told me how Stegner came to have access to Mary's letters and memoirs, and reinforced what I had discovered. They also made it clear, however, that it was not the issue of plagiarism that bothered them: it was the fact that Stegner used so much of Mary's life, and then, by the end of the novel, radically changed who she actually was, and distorted the nature of her relationship with her husband. Many people, not just local friends, recognized the Footes' lives in Stegner's novel, and believed that a skeleton had been exhumed from the family closet.
The family wanted to make sure I understood that Janet Micoleau had asked Stegner to change the family names: When Stegner first asked to borrow Mary's letters and reminiscences, at that time unpublished, the family thought he intended to write a novelistic biography of their ancestors (a la Irving Stone). In a series of letters to the family, written before, during and after the novel was published, it became clear that Stegner was instead writing a novel. Janet, acting on this information, suggested that in that case he not use family names. There was no way the family could have known what he was doing with the materials they had loaned him, or the family stories they shared with him in several visits he'd made to Grass Valley. As Janet said, in an interview in the San Francisco Chronicle, "... it was unfair that he used information we had given him quite freely because we thought he wanted a feel of the period."
Research in hand, I returned to FTC's "Angle of Repose" group. After some animated discussion, we determined we could not, in good conscience, continue to work on an adaptation of the novel, and the project was shelved.
That Stegner utilized the Footes' lives as the basis of a novel is not unusual or remarkable. "Stealing" from the lives of others is what fiction writers do: the odd behavior observed between the parents of a childhood friend; the incident about a distant cousin someone shares, an article read in a newspaper; the issues that face a writer in his own home and life (as well as the people involved in that home and that life): all is "fair game" to someone writing fiction. It is axiomatic to say that an artist's own life is thoroughly inspected and reflected in a given piece of work.
When we read fiction, however, we assume that the words in a book are in fact written by the person who says he or she is the author. In circumstances where that's not the case, there's usually a "Note," or an "Afterword" which explains such use.
And that, for me, was the problem. Stegner used-extensively and knowingly-words written by someone else. He did not acknowledge the source of those words; the dedication to JM, her sister, and her ancestors is hardly sufficient to explain his monumental debt. That a man had stolen these words from a woman also plagued me. And perhaps most galling of all was that a writer-someone skilled in the use, and knowledgeable of the power, of their words-had stolen words written by another writer.
So the question of why Wallace Stegner, an august, deeply respected, even revered man of American letters, would do such a dastardly-and dangerous-thing haunted me. I was also fired up with an almost religious zeal to "right" the wrong I felt had been done to Mary Foote. I gave a number of lectures on the subject, and, with the encouragement of editor Casey Walker, published an extensive article in the Wild Duck Review. I continued to research the letters, the Reminiscences, and Stegner, too, poring over his letters to the Foote family, struggling to come to terms with that question, "Why?"
And I kept imagining Mary Foote and Wallace Stegner talking to each other, in some common ether they could now inhabit. (Foote died in 1939; Stegner in 1993.) It seemed to me that theater was the ideal, perhaps the only, place to have such a dialogue happen, and I even outlined a few scenes. But at that point I'd never written a play, and wasn't sure I had the necessary skills to tackle a project I saw as monumental. I had other projects that consumed me, including the publication of my first novel, Catching Heaven, and the play stayed on the back burner.
Then two things happened: I was asked to direct Little Women for FTC, and in the process of looking through the available and not-very-exciting adaptations, Artistic Director Sneed asked if I might be interested in writing one. I was thrilled by the notion, and asked Diane Fetterly, with her vast store of theatrical experience, to join me. The result was FTC's 1999 Christmas production that Diane and I co-wrote, and which I directed.
The adaptation process allowed me to get my feet wet as a playwright, and when, in 1999, Sneed asked if I might be interested in writing a play based on the Foote/Stegner material, I leapt at the opportunity, grateful for the impetus it gave me. I held further interviews with the family, who loaned me transcripts of Foote's letters. I tracked down a number of books she'd written and illustrated. I expanded my library with dozens of books on the subject of the West: biographies, interviews, histories; I was particularly assisted by Stegner's masterpiece, Beyond the Hundredth Meridian.
Over time, I'd related my findings to my parents, Oakley and Barbara Hall, who were peers of and had been good friends with the Stegners. In fact, Stegner had asked Oakley, a novelist with about 23 books under his belt, to write the libretto for the opera based on Angle of Repose, produced by the San Francisco Opera Company in 1976. The first few times I tried to engage Oakley in my outrage he stayed very quiet. And then, one day, when I'd expressed my exasperation that he didn't find all this more troubling, he looked at me sadly and said, "Sands, the man was my friend."
The sentence touched me deeply. It also allowed me (to a writer of fiction, remember, everything is "fair game"), to begin to formulate a possible perspective from which this complicated story might be told.
I knew I wanted to put Foote and Stegner on stage. I also knew I wanted to incorporate a number of actors who would act out scenes from the Reminiscences and some of the same scenes from the novel-in the process showing the similarities and differences between the Footes' real lives and Stegner's fictionalized version. I also knew that in a play that would be pulling a skeleton out of Stegner's closet, someone needed to be there to represent his point of view: someone who could point out his myriad contributions-to the literary as well as environmental worlds-and present his possible reasons for doing what he did.
I decided that there would be a playwright in the play, and that she is writing-that's right-a play about the Foote and Stegner controversy. For various reasons, which I knew I would have to invent, she has to live temporarily with her father, a well-known historian. The historian would be Stegner's apologist, and would also provide historical context as we follow the Footes through their lives. I thought I might capitalize on the father-daughter possibilities, making her a bit of a strident feminist (her husband, Skip, has been unsatisfactory). Her anger at the "patriarchy," which Stegner and her father represent, might also allow me to explore issues of land-use and exploitation.
I now had the bare bones of my structure, and although it seemed wild and complicated-juggling all those story-lines-I've seen enough of Tom Stoppard's plays to know how well multiple realities can work, and how intriguing they can be, if handled effectively. And that-handling them effectively-became my biggest challenge: how would I make each of the characters' needs clear? How would I give each of them satisfactory arcs?
In November of 2000, with the working title, Angles of Repose, the play was included in FTC's new-play reading series, New Voices of the Wild West. The series gives playwrights an opportunity to see their plays put on their feet, and I count myself extremely fortunate to have been included. The crazy, complicated cross-currents of character and plot that had been rolling around in my mind for so long were transmuted, thanks to the marvelous group of actors we assembled and director Lynne Collins' skill-and in an unbelievably short period of time (twenty hours of rehearsal)- into the practical, and magical, elements of stage. I am grateful to all of them for what they taught me.
After the staged reading, attorney Allan Haley, who since early in the process has advised me on copyright issues (and contributed useful insights), suggested that even though a title can't be copyrighted, Angles of Repose could lead an unsuspecting audience member to believe they were seeing a "Stegner-estate-approved" adaptation. As I already felt uncomfortable about that possibility, I reverted to my working draft title of Fair Use. The term, pulled from copyright law, resonated the issues of the play; I also like the layered meanings of the word, "fair" (not to mention "use").
FTC applied for and received an NEA grant for the project, which is helping, among other things, to fund a number of rehearsal workshops. Director Collins and several actors work through various scenes from the play; I watch and take notes. And I find this deeply ironic: I am writing a play about the issue of using ideas and words that belong to someone else, and there I am, looking for a line an actor tosses out that is more effective than one I wrote, or even one I haven't thought of at all. I compliment the actor, thank the director, but the line becomes one I have "authored."
Stegner used the life and words of Foote; I'm using the life and words of Foote and Stegner. In addition, there are dozens of people whose response to the play-sometimes just to the idea of the play-have been incorporated into the script. The knowledge and suggestions of my father, Oakley Hall, and even some elements of my relationship to him, have been ruthlessly harvested, as have my conversations with and relationship to the man I live with, Tom Taylor. Issues and ideas raised in that early FTC meeting, contributed by Sneed, actors Carolyn Howarth and Gary Wright, and costume designer Clare Henkel and, later, lighting designer Les Solomon have been woven into the play's fabric, as have responses from audience members who came to see the staged readings. Conversations with director and good friend Lynne Collins have led to numerous additions, changes, deletions-her contributions are enormous, and impossible to articulate. I've borrowed from all my research: biographies, histories, novels, Internet articles, interviews, trips to the Huntington and Stanford Libraries-there is no way to include thanks to all of them; no way to track or to acknowledge the ideas I've garnered from so many sources.
Of course this is true of any creative process. As Stegner himself says, in one of his letters to the Foote family, "the ways of fiction are devious indeed." In some ways I've done exactly what he did: in addition to creating an original piece of art (in my case a play, in his case a novel), I've copied word after word I didn't write into a manuscript that will have my name on it. But there is one major difference: I've made it clear when I am using someone else's words, and whose words they are. Yet even while I've tried to clarify when words are Foote's, when they are Stegner's, or a quote belonging to an expert on plagiarism, water rights, or fair use, the play is considered to be "by" me. Fair Game, or Fair Use? It's an issue the play itself raises, and one I hope the audience will be inspired to try and answer.
Copyright © Sands Hall 2001