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Brotherly discourse comes to Cap Stage

Capital Stage continues its successful first season in midtown with a Sam Shepard revival. “True West” will mark the second Shepard play the company has presented following an acclaimed 2009 staging of “Fool For Love.”

Performances for “True West” will run March 21 through April 22 and will feature company co-founder Jonathan Rhys Williams (“Or,”, “Hunter Gatherers,” “Fool For Love”) and actor Cole Alexander Smith (“reasons to be pretty,” “First Person Shooter”) as battling brothers Lee and Austin.

Performances for “True West” will begin with three previews on Wednesday, March 21, at 7 p.m. and Thursday & Friday March 22 & 23. at 8 p.m. The production will open on Saturday, March 24, at 8 p.m. Showtimes will be Wednesdays at 7 p.m., Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

General tickets range from $20 to $32. Discount tickets are available as follows: Preview tickets are $18; Student Rush tickets are $12; Senior Sunday Matinee tickets are $26; and group rates are available for parties of 12 or more. Tickets are currently available at the Capital Stage Box Office, by phone at (916) 995-5464 or online at capstage.org.

The play
A fight is brewin’ at mom’s house. Austin (Smith) is on the brink of something big. He has secured a Hollywood deal for his latest film script. Lee (Williams) is a bum: a free agent. He’s got nothing to his name except a six pack and a criminal record. They’re brothers but they are as different as day and night. In this deliciously dark play of duality, Sam Shepard takes a long, hard look at America, from the romanticized West to the tranquility of picket-fenced suburbia.

The playwright
Few American playwrights have exerted as much influence on the contemporary stage as Sam Shepard. His plays are performed on and off Broadway and in all the major regional American theatres. They are also widely performed and studied in Europe, particularly in Britain, Germany and France, finding both a popular and scholarly audience.

A leader of the avant-garde in contemporary American theatre since his earliest work. Shepard’s plays are not easy to categorize. They combine wild humor, grotesque satire, myth and a sparse, haunting language to present a subversive view of American life. His settings are often a kind of nowhere, notionally grounded in the dusty heart of the vast American Plains; his characters are typically loners, drifters caught between a mythical past and the mechanized present; his work often concerns deeply troubled families.

Before he was 30, Shepard had more than 30 plays produced in New York. In his works Shepard has repeatedly examined the moral anomie and spiritual starvation that characterize the world of his drama.

Beginning in the late 1970s, Shepard applied his unconventional dramatic vision to a more conventional dramatic form — the family tragedy — producing “Curse of the Starving Class” and “Buried Child” in 1978 (both of which won Obie Awards) and “True West” in 1980. The three plays are linked thematically in their examination of troubled and tempestuous blood relationships in a fragmented society.

By 1980 he was the most produced playwright in America after Tennessee Williams.

Over the past 40 years Shepard has written more than 45 plays, 11 of which have won Obie Awards. In 1979 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “Buried Child.” In 1986 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 1992 he received the Gold Medal for Drama from the Academy. He was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1994.

“No one knows better than Sam Shepard that the true American West is gone forever, but there may be no writer alive more gifted at reinventing it out of pure literary air.”  — Frank Rich, The New York Times

The production
Joining Williams and Smith will be Capital Stage associate artist Janis Stevens (“Superior Donuts,” “Master Class”) as the family matriarch. Actor Eric Baldwin plays producer Saul Kimmer who becomes the catalyst for the brothers’ combustive collaboration.

Capital Stage artistic director Stephanie Gularte (“Superior Donuts,” “Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train,” “Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me”) will direct this Sacramento revival. The design team includes Jonathan Williams (set), Lalena Hutton (costumes) and Ron Madonia (lighting).

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Posted by on Mar 8 2012.
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