Take a day out of days to explore the surreal magic of America’s leading living playwright. From humble beginnings in the lofts and cafés of the Village, New York to Broadway and across the globe Sam Shepard has explored family, violence, politics and fear. These are typical American theatre themes but Shepard takes them on through the eyes of a cowboy. He mixes classic American theatre with uniquely American cinema, all inspired by the British and Irish theatre revolution of the 1950’s. A Stetson wearing playwright? If he didn’t exist, you’d have to make him up.
Already famous by the end of the 1960’s for opinion splitting but award winning plays such as The Rock Garden and La Turista he then escaped New York City and moved to London. There he wrote perhaps his most purely Shepard play The Tooth of Crime, attempting to mix his passion for music intricately into his theatre work. Only after his return to the States though was his reputation secured with Buried Child, True West and Fool for Love. Family plays with a dark heart.
He is of course, for the general public, more famous for his film appearances and script writing. Days of Heaven saw his first big film but it was the Oscar nomination for playing Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff that brought him a brief Hollywood stardom. He has gone on to star or co-star in dozens of films since then and written screenplays, most famously for Wim Wenders’ Paris Texas. The books of short stories/poems/thoughts that have often come from these film experiences such as Motel Chronicles, Cruising Paradise or Day out of Days are perhaps the purest form of his writing and can be read again and again.
Sam Shepard has just turned seventy and is still as busy as ever. With the influence of Samuel Becket never far away, it is appropriate that much of his recent work has premiered in Ireland due to his strong connections with Abbey Theatre and Stephen Rea’s ‘Field Day’ Theatre Company.
This symposium explores not only his playwriting but also his films and stories, all through the most expert and experienced writers and practitioners working on or with Sam Shepard.
If you are familiar with his work this will keep you right up to date, if you have only just found an interest in some aspect of his art then this symposium will have you coming back for more.
All this from a man who’d rather go fishing than go and see a play. Sam Shepard is still at the centre of a contradiction. “Can we become completely ourselves even while wishing we were something else?” (Sam Shepard, Derry, 20th November 2013)
The day will include the premiere of Ashley Smith’s new play I wish I was Sam Shepard
Stephen Bottoms, "Fascinating me to Death: Sam Shepard and the Environmental Absurd"
Phillip Breen (Director), "True West in the 21st Century. Why Shepard's masterpiece is the play for now".
Emma Creedon, "Ireland's Bromance with Sam Shepard...and Vice Versa: A Site for the Surreal."
Neil Campbell, “Post-Western Man: Framing the West in Sam Shepard’s Films”
£25 for the symposium and play performance, including buffet lunch, teas and coffee.
£12 concessions for seniors, students and unwaged.
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