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True West

True West
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Biz Staff Pick!
Author: Sam Shepard
Publisher: Samuel French (cover image may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 72
Pub. Date: 1981
ISBN-10: 0573617287
ISBN-13: 9780573617287
Cast Size: 1 female, 3 male

About the Play:

True West was one of Royal National Theatre of Britain's top 100 plays of the 20th century.

True West has long been a favourite of acting teachers for Female/Female Scenes, Male/Male Scenes, and Three-Person Scenes.

True West is a full-length dark comedy by Sam Shepard. Often hailed as Shepard's masterpiece, True West is a character study that examines the relationship between Austin, a mild, bookish screenwriter, and his older brother, Lee, a volatile petty criminal. They reunite while house sitting for their mother in a sweltering Los Angeles suburb, leading to the airing of old resentments and some unexpected twists in the relationship.

True West is a brilliant, funny play about two brothers who clash over a film script. The sheltered life of Austin as a moderately successful screenwriter is interrupted by the arrival of his older brother, Lee, a professional thief, dedicated drinker, and dog-fight enthusiast. What at first appears a simple, dysfunctional family drama – the alcoholic, absent father, the distant mother, the sibling rivalry – escalates into a slow burn showdown with disastrous consequences. Austin is working on a script he has sold to fast-talking Hollywood producer Sal Kimmer. Lee pitches his own idea for a movie to Kimmer, who then wants Austin to junk his bleak, modern love story and write Lee's true-to-life Western tale about two drifters on horseback. True West is an American classic that takes gleeful potshots at Hollywood, the myth of the frontier, and the escape fantasies that drive the American imagination. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1983 and helped cement Sam Shepard's reputation as one of the greatest American playwrights of his generation.

True West premiered in 1980 at the Magic Theatre, San Francisco's most important and longtime playwrights' theatre, then moved to the Public Theatre in New York. But it did not gain recognition as an "American Masterpiece" until the Steppenwolf Theater Company revived it in 1984, making true stars of John Malkovich and Gary Sinise. True West was revived on Broadway in 1999 at New York's Circle in the Square, where Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly memorably alternated playing the roles of the brothers. The play has become a favourite scene study vehicle in acting classes and workshops and is regularly performed in regional, college, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 1 female, 3 male

What people say:

"Shepard's masterwork…. It tells us a truth, as glimpsed by a 37 year old genius." — New York Post

"True West still rings true and stands as the greatest American drama since Long Day's Journey Into Night." — National Review

"By far the funniest, truest, and most mesmerizing play on Broadway." — New York Daily News

"It's clear, funny, naturalistic. It's also opaque, terrifying, surrealistic. If that sounds contradictory, you're on to one aspect of Shepard's winning genius; the ability to make you think you're watching one thing while at the same time he's presenting another." — San Francisco Chronicle

About the Playwright:

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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