By MISHA BERSON : orartswatch – excerpt
Present at the creation in the late, great playwright’s San Francisco years: watching an American “seeker and experimentalist” at work
Motorcycles would vroom into the massive parking lot at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, a former Army facility being transformed into an arts complex. And if I looked out of the right window from my warehouse office, I’d see Sam Shepard roaring into the parking lot alongside John Lion, the artistic head of the Magic Theatre.
Wearing leather jacket, blue jeans, and shades, his dark hair flopping over his forehead, Sam was so cool he could’ve been an extra from the iconic hipster film Easy Rider. But at that point (in the late 1970s) he was already famous in his own right, at least among theater folk, for his cowboy-beatnik charisma and his sui generis, rock-the-genre plays, like The Tooth of Crime, The Unseen Hand, and Suicide in B-Flat…
Sam Shepard is one of my favorite playwrights of the new experimental theatre called avant garde when it was taking off in San Francisco. I made a point of seeing his plays as they opened at the Magic and other local theatres around the SF Bay Area. As theatre workers we had the front row seats at rehearsals and watched as they developed into memorable works of art.
My first Shepard play was at New College on Valencia shortly after it was resurrected from the ashes of a mortuary. The ghost of the former occupants led an eerie feeling to the dueling rock stars in the boxing rink as the new-comer whaled on the aging star.
The smell of burnt toast is forever etched in my memory of Sam Shepard along with a barrel of huge carrots. If you are not familiar with his work you should look into it.
Interesting to read the best review of his work so far written by another fan who was on the scene at the time. We probably crossed paths.
Rural America: Where Sam Shepard’s roots ran deepest
: theconversation – excerpt
When Sam Shepard died on July 27 the world lost one of the greatest playwrights of the past half-century. He was an artist renowned for bravely plumbing his own life for material, spinning much of his own pain into theatrical gold. His best work revealed the hollowness behind the idea of the happy family and its corollary, the American dream. Subversive and funny, Shepard had the soul of a poet and an experimental streak that never faded… (more)