The play takes place in an urban apartment where Ed and Tom are constructing a set of bookshelves. After Tom and his wife quarrel and splatter each other with paint, Mom and Pop arrive, declaring that fourteen hundred thousand books wait outside ready to be walked up the apartment's eight flights of stairs. Farcical behaviors and absurdist exchanges carry the first half of the play. The work however concludes with an enigmatic discussion on civic planning and social engineering: Mom and Pop hypothesize about "Elevated cities suspended under vacuum air" and "vertical cities stretching north through Canada and south through Mexico." At its end, the play essentially asks: Is "community" possible? [Source: Sam Shepard and the American Theatre]

Performance History

One-act play.

Summer of 1966. Commissioned by National Educational Television to shoot three plays of their own choosing, LaMama recorded "Pavane" in a studio, "The Recluse" and "Fourteen Hundred Thousand" on location in "found" buildings on Welface Island and Park Avenue. Broadcast in the fall of 1966 as "Three from LaMama" and re-aired on June 22, 1969. Teleplay cast included Joe Chaikin and Joyce Aaron.

Performed at the Firehouse Theatre by the auspices of the Office of Aid to Drama Research at the University of Minnesota in 1966. Directed by Sydney Schubert Walter with Steve Friedman, Antoinette Maher, Raymond Henry Stadum, Greta Giving and David Burns..




Five Plays:
Bobbs Merrill, Indianapolis, 1967
Faber and Faber, London, 1969

The Unseen Hand and Other Plays:
Bobbs Merrill, Indianapolis, 1967

Chicago and other Plays:
Applause Theater Book Publishers, 1981
Urizen Books, NY, 1981
Faber and Faber, London, 1982
Continuum, NY, 1983

Fifteen One-act Plays, Vintage, 2012


The photo below showing Joe Chaikin and Joyce Aaron comes from the 1966 production that was televised. [I assume the photo was taken off the television, which accounts for its blurriness]


First of his productions to be performed outside of New York's experimental theatre circles.

First teleplay..