July 27, 2022

Today marks the 5th anniversary of Sam's death.

"I shall not look upon his like again"

...Hamlet, Shakespeare

* * * * *

Next month AGES OF THE MOON will be staged by Beth Kelly of New Jersey's Side of the Road Theater Company. The play  has two old men, who have been friends for 50 years, reassessing their lives. Show times at the Milford Theater are August 13 and 20 at 7 p.m. and Aug. 14 and 21 at 2 p.m. Kelly describes the play as "funny, beautiful, and quirky" and "unique among Shepard's works for its touching story." Actor John Klemeyer says, "It's a gorgeous piece of theater. If you only hone in on the sad moments, you miss the point of the play. Shepard injects a level of sophistication into these characters."

"Ages" premiered in 2009 at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and starred Stephen Rea and Sean McGinley.

The play will also be performed in August by the Clifton Players, Cincinnati Artists Theatre & Creative Asylum at Liberty Exhibition Hall. Show times are:

Fri-Sun, Aug. 5-7 at 7:30pm
Mon, Aug. 8 at 7:30pm
Fri-Sun, Aug. 12-14 at 7:30pm
Mon, Aug. 15 at 7:30pm
Fri-Sun, Aug. 19-21 at 7:30pm
Mon, Aug. 22 at 7:30pm

 
July 4, 2022

Here are some interesting old photos from the UTSA digital collection showing Sam and wife O-lan in their early theatre days.

 
June 30, 2022

Upon Sam's death in 2017, film critic Brian Marks wrote the following;

"In recent years, he was best known as a reliable supporting player, the go-to actor for noble lawmen, stubborn soldiers, and bitter patriarchs. His skill on screen almost overshadowed the fact that his career started behind the scenes and on the page. Shepard was the rare playwright and actor, a category strangely uncommon in the history of cinema."

"Sam Shepard was not a commercial figure Ė his plays were done off-Broadway and his best work on screen is more recognized by lovers of film than the average moviegoer."

I very much consider myself a passionate cinephile and I absolutely agree with that last statement.

 
June 17, 2022

Plays to be staged this summer -

At London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art - "Curse of the Starving Class". From June 30 to July 9.

In Wellfleet, MA, the Harbor Stage Company offers "Buried Child" from June 16 thru July 9.

In California, the San Jose Stage company will present "The Tooth of Crime" from August 3 thru August 22.

 
April 6, 2022

For those who wish to inquire about permission to use any of Sam's works for future book publications or plays, you might try writing to this address:

Knopf Doubleday, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019

 
February 18, 2022

In November Valarie Smith of the Oregon Artwatch Organization posted an interview with author Willy Vlautin and together they had some very perceptive opinions of our playwright.

Smith:

"Nobody I know reads Sam Shepard. Nobody...  It might be hard for women to relate to him. Also, his prose is deceptive ó heís working on so many levels. And when you look at his body of work, thatís what tells the story. I bought a biography of his, but I canít think of a biography that Iím less interested in reading Ė itís already there, on the pages of all his books."

"It seemed like it got worse for Shepard over the years, like he became unmoored somehow... Iím reading a book of letters he exchanged with Joseph Chaikin, a theater producer he worked with in the early years. Even then, you can see the cracks: how he canít reconcile these opposing sides of himself. I wonder if he was afraid to lose something creatively if he tried to come to terms with it all."

Vlautin:

"You wonder with stuff like that, like his problems with his dad. If you keep making a lot of mistakes throughout your life, maybe you just keep leaning on that idea that it all started because of that. I donít know if he kept that wound open so he could keep mining it, like it was a wound that never healed, so he had to write about it."

"I think thereís a loneliness in [Shepardís writing] that a lot of people have. Family doesnít bring him comfort, religion doesnít give him comfort. Alcohol gives him comfort and then beats him on the side of the head for getting comfort from it. And his past wonít ever let him go or he wonít let it go."

January 7, 2022

On January 13 at 1:30 pm, Manhattan's MoMA will screen the  documentary ME AND MY BROTHER (1965-1968). Written by director/cinematographer Robert Frank and Sam Shepard, this film shows the relationship between Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky and Peter's brother Julius, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. This 4k digital restoration of the original version was done by The Museum of Modern Art and this screening will mark its North American premiere. It is a record of bohemian artist life in 1960s New York and was first featured at the 1968 Venice Film Festival.

 
January 5, 2022

When "Travellin' Man" Bob Dylan began his Rolling Thunder Revue tour (1975-76), he enlisted Sam to write a screenplay of the event. He imagined his troop of artists, which included Joni Mitchell, Allen Ginsberg, Arlo Guthrie and Joan Baez, would create an on-the-road Kerouac-style story. The task ended up being too difficult for Sam so the film never developed but his log of the tour's experience was published a couple years later.

Among his impressions, Sam noted, "MYTH is a powerful medium because it talks to the emotions and not to the head. It moves us into an area of mystery. Some myths are poisonous to believe in, but others have the capacity for changing something inside us, even if itís only for a minute or two. Dylan creates a mythic atmosphere out of the land around us. The land we walk on every day and never see until someone shows it to us."

Sam continues, "Dylan has invented himself. Heís made himself up from scratch. That is, from the things he had around him and inside him. Dylan is an invention of his own mind. The point isnít to figure him out but to take him in. He gets into you anyway, so why not just take him in? Heís not the first one to have invented himself, but heís the first one to have invented Dylan."

Myth also became part of Sam's persona. Upon his death in 2017, the LA Times wrote, "Despite dozens of blatantly personal plays to his name, movie stardom and the spotlight of celebrity and acclaim, Shepard remained throughout his life an inscrutable figure, an American myth in plain sight."

It has just come to my attention that on the back of the Viking Press edition of the logbook is a photo taken by Johnny Dark, of Sam and wife O-lan.

 
January 1, 2022

In the January 2022 issue of "True West" magazine, Mark Broadman writes, "Sam Shepardís 1980 play True West is one of his best known efforts. It examines the relationship of two brothers, previously estranged, as they come to grips with their relationship through writing a screenplay about the 'true West.' Shepard had to get the okay from True West magazine to use that title for his play. It wasnít the first time that happened. The 1965 album 'Johnny Cash Sings the Ballads of the True West' was reportedly inspired by The Man in Blackís love of the publication."


 

 

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