Early Texas Heritage Foundation, Paul Green, and Kermit Hunter
Paul Green and Kermit Hunter are names found again and again in the Institute of Outdoor Theatre’s archives. Between them, over 43 outdoor dramas are represented in the archives, with multiple dramas still being performed presently. Both great writers in their own right, but what if they combined their efforts for one drama?
In May 1968, this was the intention. A planning group and feasibility study was being done by the Institute for Early Texas Heritage Foundation in La Grange, Texas. There are a couple of letters between Green and Hunter discussing the possibility of collaborating on the script. Green was originally contacted about writing a script for an outdoor drama about Sam Houston. It is unclear when exactly or how Hunter was brought into the project. But in a letter dated 2 May 1968, Green wrote “…you can see how pleased I am that we finally have a chance to work together on a good, and I mean good, outdoor drama project.” Hunter responded in kind, saying he was “delighted at the prospect of our working together.”
In a separate letter Green wrote to Early Texas Heritage Foundation President Charles Lemmons, Green said “I am delight too at the prospect of having Kermit Hunter come into the picture as co-author…He and I in times past have talked of collaborating, but the proper project didn’t come along. Now I believe it has. We have been close friends for years and I am sure we will have fun in bringing this project to fulfillment.” Hunter studied under Green at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, completing his master’s thesis (Unto These Hills) in 1949. By that time, Green had already found success with The Lost Colony and The Common Glory.
Despite the early excitement for a drama about Sam Houston, the feasibility study produced does not make that recommendation. Instead, the drama should be based on the men and women who lived in the area and not just passed through. Focus on a minor historical figure, such as Joel Robinson who captured Santa Anna, giving the playwright “great freedom in creating out of him a fully realized dramatic character who would represent the spirit of the region and the times,” specifically recommending the Texas Revolution. With less widespread knowledge of the historical figure, the playwright could take more liberties with the drama, an option that would not particularly be available given a well-known person such as Sam Houston.
Unfortunately, the materials all but stop after the feasibility study. Members of the Foundation left for a variety of reasons and the whole project lost steam. By May 1973 the project lay abandoned.