The Cambridge Companion to Sam Shepard (Cambridge Companions to Literature)
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Few American playwrights have exerted as much influence on the contemporary stage as Sam Shepard. His plays are performed "on" and "off" Broadway as well as in all the major regional American theaters. They are also widely performed and studied in Europe, particularly in Britain, Germany and France, finding both a popular and a scholarly audience. This companion explores the various aspects of Shepard's career, providing fascinating first-hand accounts and substantial critical chapters on the plays, poetry, music, fiction, acting, directing and film work.
Tantalian torment (going by the 1616 text) is meant to go on obsessively, in a hell conceived along pagan rather than orthodox Christian lines.31 Sartre’s No Exit (1944) dramatized a secular hereafter in similar terms, not to mention the life this side of the grave Beckett envisaged in Waiting for Godot (1953). Zinman has adduced plenty of causes for the perverted spiritual impulse in Shepard’s work: from religion’s failure to deliver and our skeptic secular times, to a corrupt system and
covered with grins / their loneliness is smothered in a circle of ‘friends’” (63). In two other pieces, Shepard condemns “men turning themselves into advertisements of men” and “women turning themselves into advertisements of women” (81). Even those who attempt to manipulate the Hollywood Dream machine cannot escape. One character, for example, attempts to live between San Francisco and Los Angeles in order to avert the corruption of the southern city. He believes that the middle ground will
groups, including La MaMa and Caffe Cino. From 1975 to 1983, he was Playwright in Residence at San Francisco’s Magic Theatre. In 1979 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Buried Child, and in 1984 he gained an Oscar nomination for his performance in The Right Stuff. His screenplay for Paris, Texas won the Palme d’Or award at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, and he wrote and directed the film Far North in 1988. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1986. In 1992,
sites of continually shifting subjectivity.9 Shepard’s view of character belies this notion, however, as when he says: “I think character is something that can’t be helped, it’s like destiny. It’s something that’s essential . . . I think character is an essential tendency that can’t be – it can be covered up, it can be messed with, it can be screwed around with, but it can’t be ultimately changed. It’s like the structure of our bones, the blood that runs through our veins.”10 This description,
Page references in parentheses within the text are to this edition. 18 Rosen, “Emotional Territory,” 6–7. 19 Simpson et al., “Sam Shepard: the Art of Theatre XII,” 221. 20 Sam Shepard, Fool for Love in Fool for Love and Other Plays (New York: Bantam Books, 1984), 27. Page references in parentheses within the text are to this edition. 21 Rosen, “Emotional Territory,” 9. 8 Reflections of the past in True West and A Lie of the Mind Leslie Kane We are not merely more weary because of