Two-act play. A chronicle of the experiences of two unpleasant Americans, holed up in Mexico with ‘la turista’ (traveller’s diarrhea). Salem and Kent are two deeply unlikeable travelers, possessed of a characteristic combination of helplessness and arrogance, who are getting further and further out of their depth in a bleak and incoherent world. As the play proceeds, and their desperation grows, they enlist the help of increasingly weird strangers to purge themselves of their sickness.

Performance History

American Place Theater, NY: March 4 - April 1, 1967. Directed by Jacques Levy with Sam Waterston and Joyce Aaron.
Theatre Upstairs at Royal Court, London: March 18, 1969. Directed by Roger Hendricks-Simon.


Helen Easton, The New York Review of Books:
Although the play has power, I do not consider it a good play. However, the superb acting and the desire to see whether the second part would clarify the first part kept most of the audience in the theater. But from the snatches of conversation I heard on the way out, they remained mystified….

Elizabeth Hardwick, The New York Review of Books:
As one sits in the theater at a play like this, it is not so much interpretations that immediately come to mind and please us as certain recognitions. It may well be that the political interpretation is the most satisfactory.

La Turista: Bobbs Merrill, Indianpolis - 1968 and Faber, London - 1969
Four Two-Act Plays
Seven Plays
Won an Obie in 1967.

"La Turista" is an important transitional work, widely read and admired but rarely seen. Written when he was 23, it was Shepard's first foray into the two-act form and it was also the first play he ever re-wrote, extending thematic ideas that would continue into his later works.

Shepard:  The most hostile audience I faced was up at the American Place Theatre when we were putting on 'La Turista'. They invited all these Puerto Rican kids, street kids, and they were firing at the actors with peashooters."