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Heartless

Heartless
Your Price: $16.95 CDN
Author: Sam Shepard
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 72
Pub. Date: 2018
ISBN-10: 0822232227
ISBN-13: 9780822232223

About the Play:

Heartless is a full-length drama by Sam Shepard. One of his final plays, Heartless places us in the midst of a peculiar family dynamic, alongside the hapless middle-aged Roscoe, as he navigates through the lives of Sally and her mysterious family, who live in a cavernous home overlooking Los Angeles. When he arrives, Sally's dark secrets – and the secrets of those around her – threaten to come into the light.

Heartless is set in the home Sally shares with her sister, mother, and family nurse. When her new lover Roscoe, a 65-year-old Cervantes scholar, arrives, life is thrown out of whack as the scars of the past rise up. Soon he discovers that Sally's house – once inhabited by James Dean; perched precariously over the San Fernando valley – is filled with secrets, sadness, and haunted women who cannot leave themselves or anyone else in peace. From Lucy, Sally's suspicious sister, to Mable, their Shakespeare-quoting invalid mother, to Elizabeth, Mable's lovely and mysteriously mute nurse, the forces of the house conspire to make Roscoe question his assumptions about everything. As scars and histories are revealed, Sam Shepard shows, as only he can, what happens when the secrets simmering within a family boil over. Heartless masterfully explores the irrevocability of our pasts – and the possibility of life begun anew.

Heartless premiered in 2012 at Signature Theatre in New York City. The play has been performed in regional repertory, high school, college, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 4 women, 1 man

What people say:

"This is not a play for people who need answers more than questions…we feel the playwright moving into gripping new territory. Just as the professor wants to go somewhere without a name, Shepard, bless him, keeps us searching." — Newsday

"These characters fit into Shepard's pantheon of damaged, dysfunctional people linked by blood and desperation, but there is something particularly bleak and detached about their circumstances…What Heartless reinforces is that we're all lost, in various stages of decay and disrepair. Characteristically, Shepard finds the dark humor in this quandary." — The Huffington Post

"The heart has always been a vital organ in the plays of Sam Shepard, and never more so than in Heartless, a poetic, enigmatic and often humorous exploration of the human failure to connect with one another that is the playwright's most inspired and imaginative work in years…Heartless defies any easy classification or even definition of subject matter… Shepard's poetic sense of the absurdities of human congress is pitch perfect and the drama never flags." — The New Yorker

"Featuring a contentious family, torrid love, mysterious secrets, imposing guilt, a lust for the frontier of the open road, and a staunch refusal to moor itself to a realist grounding, all dripping with darkly comic lyric poetry, Heartless features all that intrigues and mystifies us about Shepard's work. It is an American master doing what he does best." — Stage Magazine

"While it declines, firmly but politely, to make certain kinds of literal sense, [Heartless] follows a single, straightforward action through a beginning, middle, and end. The action just happens not to be based in the simple reality we think we perceive on the surface. Shepard has never particularly cared for that surface reality. He is a modernist – these days with a lot of postmodern sauce to his meal – who has found inspiration in painting and poetry as often as in the theater…The wonder and charm of Heartless don't come from its trickery, but from the very real passion behind it and poetry within it." — Village Voice

Sam Shepard (1943-2017) was an American playwright and actor. Born in Illinois and raised in Southern California, he worked as a farmhand and musician before moving to New York to begin his career as a playwright. The celebrated author – who New York Magazine called "the greatest American playwright of his generation" – wrote more than forty plays, eleven of which have won Obie Awards. His play Buried Child won the Pulitzer for drama. Two other plays True West and Fool for Love were nominated for the Pulitzers as well, and are frequently revived. As an actor he appeared in more than thirty films, including an Oscar nominated performance for his role as test pilot Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff.

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