March 29, 2018

"Fools for Love: a Dramatic and Musical Tribute to Sam Shepard" will take place at 8 p.m. on April 7 at The Rock House in Glenview, Illinois. It is also a fundraiser for the Les Turner ALS Foundation, the disease that claimed Sam's life.  The show is in three parts beginning with reading an excerpt from one of his final works. A musical performance will follow with songs that Sam's sister, Sandy Rogers, wrote for Robert Altman's film version of "Fool for Love." Following the music, a shortened, adapted version of the play "Fool For Love" will be performed.

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"I feel like I've never had a home, you know? I feel related to the country, to this country, and yet I don't know exactly where I fit in... There's always this kind of nostalgia for a place, a place where you can reckon with yourself."   

                                                                       ...Sam Shepard

March 23, 2018

William Shakespeare’s "Romeo and Juliet" may be the epitome of the story of star-crossed lovers, but Sam Shepard certainly gave the bard a run for his money with his 1983 play "Fool for Love." In  honor of his memory, Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival will be putting on a production of his Pulitzer Prize-nominated play. While the company’s mission is to faithfully portray Shakespeare’s works, it also includes "other actor-driven plays."

"It still seems natural to do an American classic as our first departure and especially Sam Shepard because so much of his writing is based in the Southwest," said Dawn Tucker, executive director of FlagShakes. She continues, "I read that when he wrote the first scene he just loved the characters so much that he didn't want it to end, he just wanted it to go on and on."

Performances of "Fool for Love" will be the last two weekends of March. The Momentum Aerial Arts Studio will host the production Friday and Saturday, March 23 and 24, before it moves to La Posada Hotel in Winslow the following weekend, March 30 and 31.

March 20, 2018

Roundabout Theatre Company has announced that Ethan Hawke and Paul Dano are teaming up for a new Broadway production of "True West". The play will be directed by James Macdonald with previews beginning on December 27 ahead of an official opening on January 24, 2019 at the American Airline Theatre in New York. Additional cast and creative team members will be announced at a later date. Hawke was a longtime collaborator and friend of Sam's and gave the following tribute last summer:

For my generation, there’s a bit of hero worship that went along with Sam. He was someone who could act and direct and write at such a high level. He’s a poet of the first order. I first saw a production of True West when I was 14. That production did for my generation what Brando and Streetcar had done for a generation earlier. It was the same time he was in The Right Stuff. Playing Chuck Yeager is one of the coolest performances this side of Rebel Without a Cause. The first time I met him I was 24. I was at a urinal during intermission of the first read-through of  Buried Child in Chicago. I later told [film director] Richard Linklater, and he said, “Well, you’re pissing in the tall grass with the big dogs now!”

What a lot of young people get wrong about Sam is that he wasn’t just cool. When you worked with him, he was a very serious person. He’d come to rehearsal and talk about Greek myths and weird obscure playwrights. I once went into a bookstore and found him in the Spanish section, poring over how to learn Spanish in six weeks or less. He was disarmingly humble and wildly self-serious. He could walk that razor’s edge.

Here’s one of my favorite stories: I was living at the Chelsea Hotel, and I had to wake up at dawn to walk my puppy. Outside was Sam Shepard reading all the famous artist plaques on the wall. We’d worked together a bunch already, and I invited him in for coffee. We were heading to the elevator, and Sam was telling me about how he used to live there and wrote with Patti Smith there, when we run into the owner of the Chelsea — Stanley Bard, this old-school New Yorker. Sam said hi and then, 'What do you gotta do to get a plaque on the wall? I did some good writing here!' And Stanley said, 'Well, unfortunately, Mr. Shepard, you have to die.' And Sam went, 'I see Arthur Miller’s got one out there, and he’s not dead.' And Stanley went, 'Well, Mr. Shepard, I’m sure I’m not the first to tell you you’re no Arthur Miller.' Sam burst out laughing so hard.

In the years I knew him, he could be many different people. He was a complicated person. He was wise, and I think he got wise fighting a lot of things about himself. He was a deeply curious person, always learning, always staying interested. He was writing beautifully at the highest level even at the end. I wish he hadn’t been sick, and I really wish we could have worked together again. It was always an honor.

March 12, 2018

Several years ago Sam and actor Scott Glenn teamed up for a reading of "Ages of the Moon" at the Egyptian Theatre in Boise, Idaho. You may remember that the pair starred together in "The Right Stuff". The play is about a couple of dudes sitting on a front porch in the country, waiting to witness an eclipse of the moon. Ames and Byron are old friends who, accompanied by whiskey, spend a night reminiscing, bickering and growing hostile.

Here are several photos from the July 28, 2011 event:

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As a tribute to Sam, the University of Tulsa will present two of his plays at the Chapman Theatre from April 12 to April 15. Directed by senior students, "Action" and "Fool for Love" will be staged.

March 2, 2018

In the early 90s, Carol Rosen interviewed Sam for her book, "Sam Shepard: A Poetic Rodeo", which became part of the Modern Dramatists Series. In this excerpt, Sam discusses directing:

When I started, with the first play I ever directed in London, I was terrified of the situation because I'd never done it before. So I immediately conferred with two people who I thought were the best directors in the world. One was Peter Brook and the other was Joe [Chaikin]. I sort of talked to them at length about the process and all that kind of stuff. When I went in, I found myself sort of trying to imitate certain things from their points of view, but discovered that it was futile, that you have to deal with the actors that you've got right in front of you and find out what the experience is like: directing. You can't use a formula to approach it, so I never developed a formula for it. I like actors who are incredibly courageous and enthusiastic. I think Malkovich is a good example: extremely intelligent, fearless, and enthusiastic. Just does not give a shit about how this fits into somebody else's idea of what it should be, just goes for ideas that are completely off the wall. They may be wrong but he'll go for them.

At the time of Sam's death, Malkovich described him as "very cool and authentic" with "great simplicity on screen."

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Human Sacrifice Theatre of Melbourne, Australia, has announced an event called "I Lost Track of Time" - A celebration of the writings of Sam Shepard. There will be three performances between March 25 - 27. The extracts presented in this unique entertainment include his early Off-Off Broadway period when the plays were often performed against an aural background of hard rock music, the award winning main stage family dramas, personal observations and movie scripts. All accompanied by a live original music score which pulses with the rhythms of Sam Shepard’s writing. A man who walked the line between movie star and rebel, a punk cowboy "who never ceased to grow, to explore, to confront, and to listen to new music."