February 13, 2018
In 1962, a teenaged Mt. San Antonio College student named
Steve Rogers wrote a 15-minute play entitled THE MILDEW. That play was
published in the campus literary magazine MoSAiC. The author of the play left
the school at the end of that year and changed his name to Sam Shepard. Now, 56
years later, that play will have its first production. It was be staged with two
other plays at Mt. SAC at 8 p.m. for three nights - February 13-15.
It's a short script described as a stark, morbid comedy that
explores many of the same themes Sam would become famous for. A proper young man
tries to introduce the audience to his ideal life and neighborhood, only to have
his vision of his life destroyed by strangers who pass by.
According to Sam's biographer John J. Winters, the play shows
"a remarkable eagerness to experiment and a transgressive sense of humor."
However, he continues, "The Mildew ultimately lacks the things that set
Shepard's later work apart. While it's strange and at times humorous, it lacks
the sustained tension and the knowing irony of his produced work, as well as the
dark humor and linguistic flights."
February 11, 2018
Theatre of San Francisco has announced that the theatre's 2018 gala
fundraiser, Magic Masquerade, will be held at the Julia Morgan Ballroom on
Friday, March 9, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. The gala will honor Sam by bestowing
the inaugural Sam Shepard Legacy Award to longtime Magic supporters John
Marx and Toni Rembe Rock. The evening will also include a Sam Shepard Tribute
Performance. The theatre statement reads, "Almost 50 years ago Sam Shepard
embarked on a journey with Magic Theatre - a journey that would include the
creation and premiere of 7 of his most enduring works. Magic Theatre provided
him with an artistic home to explore, create and thrive during these formative
years. The art he created allowed audiences to viscerally explore the essential
elements of humanity and dared audiences to feel beyond themselves. Sam
challenged the status quo and forged the way for countless other playwrights to
dream and discover their own voices. Magic Theatre has continued to be the
artistic safe-haven for the writer's vision to flourish. This accomplishment has
only been made possible by visionary cultural stakeholders, like John Marx and
Tony Rembe Rock, who were galvanized by Sam's unprecedented impact on the
February 5, 2018
In the winter of 2011, production began on the film
SAVANNAH, in which Sam played actress Jaimie
Alexander's father. When he died last summer, Jaimie wrote this kind tribute and
posted it online along with some photos.
Dear Sam, you were the best movie Dad a girl could ask for. A
good friend and an incredible teacher. I’ll never forget our long conversations
over multiple glasses of wine while filming in Savannah, your incredible
kindness, all the books you gave to me, that yellow pocket knife you carried and
then gave to me (I carry it still today), that crazy good food we ate at The
Shed in Santa Fe, but most of all…your goofy sense of humor. You were such a
smart ass! I feel incredible sadness today…but also joy at the thought of you.
I'm so grateful our paths crossed. I’ll carry love and admiration for you
always. Rest In Peace.
* * * * *
Here are more Shepard drawings. Love the middle one!
January 31, 2018
In the March 2018 issue of Sight & Sound magazine,
there's a piece on Sam called "Cinema's Existential Cowboy". Here are some
If Sam Shepard Rogers ('Steve' to his folks) wasn’t
strictly a cowboy, he could at least shear a sheep and clean out a stable.
He grew up in Duarte, 20 miles east of Hollywood, and enrolled in college to
study agriculture, but before he was 20 he had hightailed it to his second
home, Off-Off Broadway. Sam Rogers, his father, was a bomber pilot, a
teacher, a drummer, a farmer, a lost soul, an abusive drunk and the ghost
who haunts so much of his son’s best writing.
It was 1962 and Shepard plunged into the experimental
theatre scene, carving out a new name for himself as a bold and brilliant
young playwright. He wrote quickly, freely, channeling voices like music:
identity is fluid, character fractured and fragmented. Shepard would call
these early works 'incantations'. Written between 1976 and 1984, his mature
and most acclaimed plays, Buried Child, True West and A Lie of the
Mind, are honky-tonk exorcisms of errant fathers, broken families,
wounded, wounding men...
"A man playing cowboys" was how Patti Smith described Shepard as early as
1971. The image fit like a Stetson: lean, tall and handsome with piercing
blue eyes, he spoke low and slow without giving much away, just a certain
...And he didn’t pursue stardom, keeping all that at arm’s length. Hollywood
pegged him as a character actor in westerns and neo-western crime dramas,
and that was just fine – but deeply ironic that he was typed as the
embodiment of everything he struggled with in his writing, that legacy of
machismo the movies laid down for American males.
January 27, 2018
Know Theatre of Binghamgton, NY will be presenting
TRUE WEST at the Binghamton City Stage from
February 8-25. For more information, call 607-724-4341.
"It’s clear, funny, naturalistic. It’s also opaque,
terrifying, surrealistic. If that sounds contradictory, you’re onto one aspect
of Shepard’s winning genius; the ability to make you think you’re watching one
thing while at the same time you're presented another." – San Francisco
* * * * *
BURIED CHILD will come
to Sebastopol, California next month. The Pulitzer Prize-winning drama will be
staged at Main Stage West from February 2-25. The production info reads - "Humor
and pathos abound in this masterwork of modern drama, a tribute to the late Sam
January 22, 2018
Last night's SAG Awards paid tribute to Sam in their
Memoriam segment. You can view it at this
link. The clip is from Black Hawk Down.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Flashback to June 2011:
don't readily think of Sam when it comes to fashion, but here's a photo of
our playwright with stylist extraordinaire Aleksandra Woroniecka. The
celebration they were attending was the launch of Swedish designer Johan
Lindeberg's latest foray into the fashion world; a new pop-up shop for his
BLK DNM label as well as the inaugural issue of his new poster-sized
magazine, Gazette. An intimate dinner was held at the ultra-stylish
restaurant, Indochine, a favorite among New Yorkers with its exotic
January 20, 2018
BURIED CHILD, the legendary play that earned Sam the
Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979, is being staged at the Riverwalk Theatre
(Lansing, Michigan) this
weekend. Performances will be held January 18-21 and January 25-28. Director
Janet Colson said she was enthralled to take the reins of an original Shepard
production. "His persona’s so interesting. As an actor and an artist, he’s this
very sexy, interesting, dynamic, and outrageously creative person." Colson said.
* * * * *
Journalist T.M. Collins of the Albuquerque Journal mentioned Sam
in his review of the Geronimo Restaurant in Santa Fe. It looks like a beautiful
"There's the fond, not-too-distant memory of Sam Shepard,
alone at the bar doodling in a notebook, our brief discussions about bourbons -
he was 'prejudiced', he said, and it was Kentucky only for him - and buying him
a drink, anonymously, afterward. Here's to you, Sam."
January 17, 2018
La MaMa continues its season-long celebration of the
life and work of Sam Shepard with WEEKEND WITH SAM, two days of readings
and excerpts from Sam Shepard’s plays, prose and poetry, directed by Neil La
Bute, Lois Weaver, Scott Wittman and Joel Zwick. It will be held in The Ellen
Stewart Theatre (66 E. 4 St.) February 3 – 4, 2018. All readings are free and
open to the public, but not open for review by critics.
Sam did much of his early work at La MaMa and was one of the
playwrights championed by La MaMa founder, the late Ellen Stewart. His original
scripts, playbills, production photos and posters are part of the La MaMa
The weekend kicks off on Saturday, February 3 at 7:30 pm, with Scott Wittman
directing Hawk Moon featuring excerpts and monologues from Hawk Moon,
Motel Chronicles, Tongues, Cowboy Mouth and other works
read by Matthew Broderick, John Slattery, J. Smith-Cameron, Phil Burke, Erin
Markey, Monk Hopper and Larry Saltzman (on guitar).
Weekend with Sam will continue on Sunday, February 4 at 4 pm with a triple bill
of works by the playwright. The program begins with Killer’s Head,
directed by Lois Weaver and featuring Peggy Shaw reading the role originated by
Richard Gere, followed by two unpublished, early plays originally produced at La
MaMa: Dog, directed by Joel Zwick, featuring Harry Mann and Zack Segel
and Rocking Chair directed by Neil LaBute, featuring Fred Weller and Gia
Free reservations are now open to La MaMa Members and will be open to the public
online at www.lamama.org beginning Monday, January 22, 2018.
January 12, 2018
The Susquehanna Stage Company of Marietta, PA will be
presenting TRUE WEST, running from January
12-14 and 18-21. Actor Tom Riggs talks about the play - "Shepard has a good ear
for American language. I think of cowboy poetry. There’s grit in it. Shepard is
working with ideas about creativity and the battle between hard work and
inspiration, about fear and courage."
* * * * *
Unit 102 Actors Company of Toronto, Canada is presently
staging THE LATE HENRY MOSS. The play runs until January 20 at The
Assembly Theatre from Tuesday to Saturday at 8:00 pm with added Sunday matinees
at 6:00 pm. Critic Jordan Bimm writes, "A fitting elegy for Shepard, the show
has present-day currency as a cautionary tale about American exceptionalism,
antagonism and white-hot rage. Clocking in at almost two-and-a-half hours, the
strong cast, volatile action and impressively realistic and detailed
pueblo-styled set (right down to desert plants seen through the back door) keeps
you on the edge of your seat the whole time."
* * * * *
The Aeneid Theatre Company at the University of Southern
California will present TONGUES and
SAVAGE/LOVE from February 1-4 at the Massman Theatre. The performance
consists of strange, arresting stream of consciousness "concertos" written by
Sam and Joseph Chaikin that explore the foundations of human lineage,
story-telling, and romance.
* * * * *
Modesto's Center Stage Conservatory is presently staging
A LIE OF THE MIND through January 21. Hailed as
the playwright's richest and most penetrating play, the dark comedy explores
family dysfunction and the nature of love set against the backdrop of the gritty
American West. Told in three acts, the story alternates between two families in
the wake of a severe and life-altering incident of domestic abuse. The two
stories collide in an isolated cabin in rural Montana, where the tensions that
separate the families grow increasingly disturbing and dangerous.
* * * * *
In St. Augustine, Florida,
FOOL FOR LOVE will be staged by the Limelight Theatre with
African-Americans in the three main roles. It will run from January 18
through February 11.
It's not the first time the play has been done with a black cast.
Back in 1985 Sam agreed to a black cast at the Los Angeles Theatre Center.
According to producer Diane White, "The idea had never occurred to him. He was
neither wild about it nor against it. He thought it was OK to do as long as we
got a great cast". The play was still set on the edge of the Mojave Desert, but
the mood was less poor white trash and more street-wise black. Personally, the
play wouldn't work for me.
January 8, 2018
The Golden Globe Awards were held last night.
Here is a list of some of the folks who attended - Meryl Streep, Frances
McDormand, James Franco, Sam Rockwell, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Diane
Kruger, Denzel Washington, Elizabeth Moss, Natalie Portman, Jessica Biel, Ewan
McGregor, Sarah Paulson, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Liev
Schreiber, Penelope Cruz, Shirley MacLaine,
Salma Hayek and Reese Witherspoon. Big
names and what do they have in common? They have all co-starred with Sam Shepard.
See if you movie fans can name all those films.
January 5, 2018
January 1, 2018
Lily Janiask, SF Chronicle:
The greatest plays of Sam Shepard seem to encompass both any
descriptor you might apply to them as well as its opposite. "Buried Child,"
"Fool for Love," "True West," "Curse of the Starving Class" and "A Lie of the
Mind" are earthy yet surreal, starkly funny yet grotesque, savage yet full of
heart. It’s hard to imagine any contemporary artist taking up the reins of
Shepard's macho, cowboy aesthetic, or being able to tear an American family
apart in a way that seemingly reverberates across the Western horizon, the way
Shepard did. That’s as it should be — we need plays and aesthetics for our own
time — but that doesn’'t mean we can’t feel deeply the loss of a mighty conjurer
of both the distance and the primal connection between loved ones, a poet of
dusty landscapes, a chronicler of men who are unknown even, or especially, to
* * * * *
Patti Smith & Sam Shepard
A love of short duration and a love of eternity ... A relationship lasting
half a century.
That great actor, theatrical writer, screenwriter, awarded in 1979 with a
Pulitzer for Buried Child. A subversive drummer, cowboy but also
romantic, a "hero" of the New York underground scene of the 1970s.
"When you hit a wall of your own imagined limitations, just kick it in." he once
said on the occasion of the creative process. A man who managed to kick in many
walls during his career.
She ... A poet, a musician, a singer, a photographer and a writer ... Notorious
but also dreamer ... The "goddess of punk" as they called her. A fine woman with
wild beauty and intense personality who grew up reading poems of her beloved
Arthur Rimbaud ...
The two of them first lived a short, illegal erotic story, but it turned into a
strong friendship. So strong that it kept them connected for many, many years
They were aware of the difficult times of getting started in New
York. Then they drew dreams for the future without the stress of success and
celebrity. Patti refers to the little scars that have been left forever on their
bodies. Sam had a half-moon between his thumb and index and she had a lightning
bolt on her left knee.
A few months ago, Sam Shepard is leaving life and Patti Smith
writes a very tender and moving letter to New Yorker. She writes,
"I knew that I would see Sam again somewhere in the landscape of dream, but at
that moment I imagined I was back in Kentucky, with the rolling fields and the
creek that widens into a small river. I pictured Sam's books lining the shelves,
his boots lined against the wall, beneath the window where he would watch the
horses grazing by the wooden fence. I pictured myself sitting at the kitchen
table, reaching for that tattooed hand."
December 30, 2017
Oklahoma's Carpenter Square Theatre opens the New Year with "Ages
of the Moon", one of Sam's last plays. The comedy-drama about two old
friends plays January 12-27, 2018. All performances are at the theater, located
at 800 W. Main in downtown Oklahoma City. "Ages" continues some of the themes
that have been ever present in Sam's work, such as the troubled and comical
sides of family life, friendships, and experiences of love. Byron and Ames are
old friends reunited by mutual desperation. Ames has retreated to an old shack
to lick his wounds after his wife kicked him out of their house for some
adulterous indiscretion he can’t even recall. Over bourbon on ice, they reflect
and bicker until fifty years of love, friendship, and rivalry are put to the
test at the barrel of a gun.
Terry Veal directs with assistance from Michael Greene as
stage manager. Rob May and Michael Kramer co-star as Ames and Byron.
Reservations are highly recommended for the intimate 90-seat theater.
Visit www.carpentersquare.com for more information.
* * * * *
Counterpoint Press has announced that "Sam Shepard: A Life"
by John J. Winters will be published in paperback in March. It will include an
epilogue recounting Shepard's last days, the many tributes that poured in, and
more. Upon Sam's death last summer, John issued the following statement:
I was in Chicago when word reached me that Sam had passed.
Though I'd heard that his health had been failing for some time, the news
somehow surprised me. I never doubted that when it happened it would bring me
great sadness, which it did.
Sam will be remembered as an American original. He was an important American
writer, one of the greatest American playwrights of the past half century, and
as an actor he graced the screen with an authenticity that was always coupled
with a surprising vulnerability. To encounter his work in any medium meant never
I hope my book will remind people why he mattered, and with any luck, will be
around to tell future generations about this talented and versatile artist. I
believe he will be well remembered for many generations, if not longer. As one
of the many saddened commentators following Sam's obituary in the Times put it:
"Punch a whole in the sky, Sam." I'll add only, God speed, and thank you for the
words and images.
* * * * *
Dustin Illingworth, LA Times, book review:
"Spy of the First Person" is an eloquent, if necessarily brief,
valediction. At just 96 pages, its effect is one of atmosphere rather than
narrative, an aching requiem sung in the shadow of extinction. It is also partly
autobiographical. Like Shepard, the narrator is an old man dying of a
debilitating illness. His flickering consciousness ranges over great temporal
distance, blending present-day observations with fragments from a disintegrating
From the NY Times, 12/29/17 - Deaths in 2017:
Pillars of the theater fell: the directors Peter Hall, who towered on both
sides of the Atlantic, and Max Ferra, who championed the work of Latinos; the
British actors John Hurt, Roy Dotrice and Alec McCowen; and the playwrights A.
R. Gurney and Sam Shepard, though “playwright” alone does little justice
to the uncontainable Mr. Shepard’s manifold artistry, which branched as well
into movies, television, music and fiction.
* * * * *
Mick LaSalle, SF Chronicle, 12/29/17 - 2017 in Review:
Sam Shepard: We had other notable movie deaths — Jerry Lewis, in
particular — but before Shepard became ill, he was at the top of his game. Thus,
at 73, he was a real loss to the art. He thought of himself mainly as a
playwright, but his acting was hardly a sideline. He had a philosophical quality
in his very being, a kind of courageous acceptance of the truth, and an honesty
that called forth honesty in others. He was a convincing hero, and as a villain
he was terrifying, because he still maintained his familiar aura of moral
certitude. Nothing could dissuade him. Sam Shepard was a great actor.
When Sam died in July, LaSalle wrote the following: "'I
didn’t go out of my way to get into the movie stuff,' Sam Shepard once said. 'I
think of myself as a writer.' And in the end, it’s as a playwright that Shepard
will probably be most remembered. But then again, maybe not. Plays have to be
produced and rehearsed and presented to the public. But movies are everywhere,
and Shepard not only made a lot of them, but lots of very good ones spread out
over three decades. He distinguished himself in these films as a strong and
distinct screen presence."
* * * * *
Michael Cavna of The Washington Post wrote, "From
music to movies, we mourn pioneers and performance icons in 2017." As a memoriam
for a way to say "thanks", he posted this work from the Comic Riffs
* * * * *
My Sam Books
July-August 31, 2017
January - June 2014
January - June 2011
July - December 2010
January - June 2010
July - December 2009
January - June 2009
July - December 2008
January - June 2008
November 2005 - December 2006