True West by Sam Shepard
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Synopsis

omedy / 3m, 1f / Int. Recently revived at New York's Circle in the Square, where Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly alternated playing the roles of the brothers, this American classic explores alternatives that might spring from the demented terrain of the California landscape. Sons of a desert dwelling alcoholic and a suburban wanderer clash over a film script. Austin, the achiever, is working on a script he has sold to producer Sal Kimmer when Lee, a demented petty thief, drops in. He pitches his own idea for a movie to Kimmer, who then wants Austin to junk his bleak, modern love story and write Lee's trashy Western tale. "Shepard's masterwork.... It tells us a truth, as glimpsed by a 37 year old genius."- New York Post"It's clear, funny, naturalistic. It's also opaque, terrifying, surrealistic. If that sounds contradictory, you're on to one aspect of Shepard's winning genius; the ability to make you think you're watching one thing while at the same time he's presenting another." - San Francisco Chronicle
 

About Sam Shepard

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Shepard, one of the best dramatists currently writing in the United States, was born on an army base in Illinois and grew up mainly on a ranch in California. His first play was produced off-off-Broadway when he was 19, and he won the first of his 8 Obie Awards when he was 23. A rock lyricist and film actor as well as a dramatist, Shepard has written more than 40 plays, winning the Pulitzer Prize for drama with Buried Child (1981) in 1978. Shepard's plays show the impact of a variety of influences, including rock music, old movies, popular myths of the Old West, and the 1960s drug culture. His early plays, produced off- and off-off-Broadway, are short, bizarre, surrealistic pieces that tend to project images rather than provide ordered reflections of reality; they are characterized by compelling monologues. These plays culminate in his early masterpiece The Tooth of Crime (1981), a cross between rock concert and classical tragedy, which pits Hoss, the reigning superstar, in a verbal shoot-out against the challenger, Crow. Shepard's later work has become more realistic and more responsive to such traditional concepts of drama as plot, character, and theme. It has also brought to the forefront his previously occasional concern for the collapse of the American dream.True West (1980) is concerned with the tension between individuals, especially fathers and sons and brothers, and their struggle to define and assert their identities.Fool for Love (1983) is a masterfully constructed, searingly intense study of love, hate, and the dying myths of the Old West. And A Lie of the Mind (1986) is a landmark play revealing the mental and physical abuse that occurs in two desperate families. Bonnie Marranca has written that, "Shepard is the quintessential American playwright. His plays are American landscapes reflecting the country's iconography, myths, entertainments, archetypes, and---in a less glowing light---the corruption of its revolutionary ideals, and the disorientation of its times.
 
Published January 1, 1981 by Nelson Doubleday. 77 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs, History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for True West

Publishers Weekly

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Lee is a petty thief and hustler, and when Austin's agent stops by to have him sign an agreement for a screenplay, Lee hustles the agent into accepting his own idea instead of Austin's.

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The Telegraph

True West (1980) is yet another of Sam Shepard’s contemplations of mythical America, an elegy for the time when men were men and cowboys roamed the range.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of True West (Library Edition Au...

Dallas News

Most fundamental of all, you finally see the brothers as two halves of a single personality — the war between the savage and the civilized in all our spirits.

Feb 06 2011 | Read Full Review of True West (Library Edition Au...

Project MUSE

Isik Toprak's recent revival for the Ankara State Theatre began by establishing a clear distinction between the two main characters: Austin, an Ivy League-educated writer intent on selling his latest script to a Hollywood producer, and Lee, his older brother, a crude petty thief.

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