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Dividing the Estate

Famed actress Elizabeth Ashley, known as much for her candor as her longevity and hoarse voice, is back in Houston, starring in Horton Foote’s Dividing the Estate at the Alley Theatre. Ashley admits that part of the appeal of performing in the family drama is her being able to work with old friends, but the real attraction for her is being able to play Stella Gordon, a delicious character she shares many qualities with, including her tendency to give advice. “I tend to be a control freak and a compulsive ‘know-it-all.’ Ask anyone who has known me for a long time,” Ashley tells us. “They usually take my advice, or at least eventually acknowledge that I’m right — just ask me!”

Ashley tells us that she also had Stella-like characters in her family while she was growing up. “I had a great-great aunt from Georgia who, in her youth, was an infamous ‘Southern belle,’ and by the time I knew her, she was the quintessential ‘grande dame’ — defined by Oxford Dictionary as ‘a usually elderly woman of great prestige or ability.’ I think that describes Stella Gordon perfectly!”

While powerful onstage, Stella isn’t exactly likable. That’s not something that worries Ashley. “I love and respect her. It’s not my concern whether the audience likes her. My job is to embody her so truthfully that the audience recognizes her in the world and in themselves.” 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. Through October 30. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information, call 713-220-5700 or visit $25 to $80.
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Oct. 7. Continues through Oct. 30, 2011


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