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Dis/Figuring Sam Shepard


Johan Callens

This illustrated volume covers the career of Sam Shepard, the provocative American playwright, scriptwriter, actor, and director, through an introductory survey followed by in-depth analyses of representative selections from the one-acts (Action, States of Shock), experimental collaborations with Joseph Chaikin (Savage/Love), and by now classic family plays (Buried Child, A Lie of the Mind). It ranges from Shepard’s unpublished adaptation of Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus through the textual variants and political context of Operation Sidewinder to Robert Altman’s movie version of Fool for Love, besides offering brief comparisons with fellow dramatists (Albee and Beckett) and visual artists (Edward Weston, Marsden Hartley). Several performance analyses supplement the textual criticism and provide a sample of European directorial approaches. Together, these takes offer a composite picture of an artist whose output over the past forty years has turned him into a figurehead of twentieth century drama, studied and produced all over the world with a keen eye for his idiosyncratic and critical view of what it means to be American.
Contents: Portrait of the Artist as an Explorer – Memories of the Sea in Illinois – Epistemologies of Loss – Through the Windows of Perception – When I Read the Book – The Needs and Risks of Revision(ism) – Reciprocity and Transformational Generation – Published and Unpublished Wars – Diverting the Integrated Spectacle – European Textures – Inflections of Nostalgia – Bring the Family.