Monday, July 31, 2017

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright Sam Shepard Passes Away At 73

Sam Shepard
Sad to read of the passing of Pulitzer Prize-winning avant-garde playwright and actor, Sam Shepard, who passed away last Thursday at the age of 73 due to complications from ALS.

From the New York Times:

One of the most important and influential early writers in the Off Broadway movement, Mr. Shepard captured and chronicled the darker sides of American family life in plays like “Buried Child,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1979, and “Curse of the Starving Class” and “A Lie of the Mind.”

He was widely regarded as one of the most original voices of his generation, winning praise from critics for his searing portraits of spouses, siblings and lovers struggling with issues of identity, failure and the fleeting nature of the American dream. He was nominated for two other Pulitzers, for “True West” and “Fool for Love,” which both received Broadway productions.

Mr. Shepard was also an accomplished actor, nominated for an Academy Award for his supporting role in “The Right Stuff.” His most recent work was in the Netflix show “Bloodline,” where he appeared as the character of Robert Rayburn. He also appeared on New York stages, winning strong reviews for his performance in the Off Broadway production of Caryl Churchill’s “A Number” in 2004.

Working at Off Broadway landmarks like La MaMa and Caffe Cino, Mr. Shepard almost immediately received critical acclaim upon embarking on his career, winning Obie Awards for “Chicago” and “Icarus’s Mother” in 1965 and then “Red Cross” and “La Turista” in 1966. He would win seven more.

Over the course of his storied career, Shapard penned 44 plays and several books of short stories and essay.

New York magazine named him “the greatest American playwright of his generation.”

It was during my years at Syracuse University as a theater major that I was first exposed to Shepard's innovative theatrical voice which could range from absurdism of his early off-off-Broadway plays to the stark realism of Buried Child and Curse of the Starving Class.

For a kid raised on Oklahoma! and My Fair Lady, Shepard could be an eye-opening and thrilling experience.

RIP Sam Shepard.

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