Sam Shepard (November 05, 1943 - July 27, 2017)
Born: 5th November, 1943
Died: 27th July, 2017
Nationality: American
Profession/Occupation: Playwright
Region: Fort Sheridan, Illinois, Kentucky
Notable works: "True West", "Buried Child", "Fool for Love", "Red Cross", "Spy of the First Person", "Angel City", "The Tooth of Crime", "Geography of a Horse Dreamer", "Killer's Head", "Icarus's Mother"

Sam Shepard Facts

Biography

Sam Shepard, byname of Samuel Shepard Rogers, (born November 5, 1943, Fort Sheridan, near Highland Park, Illinois, U.S.--died July 27, 2017, Midway, Kentucky), American playwright and actor whose plays adroitly blend images of the American West, Pop motifs, science fiction, and other elements of popular and youth culture.

As the son of a career army father, Shepard spent his childhood on military bases across the United States and in Guam before his family settled on a farm in Duarte, California. After a year of agricultural studies in college, he joined a touring company of actors and, in 1963, moved to New York City to pursue his theatrical interests. His earliest attempts at playwriting, a rapid succession of one-act plays, found a receptive audience in Off-Off-Broadway productions. In the 1965-66 season Shepard won Obie Awards (presented by the Village Voice newspaper) for his plays Chicago, Icarus's Mother, and Red Cross.

Shepard lived in England from 1971 to 1974, and several plays of this period--notably The Tooth of Crime (produced 1972) and Geography of a Horse Dreamer (produced 1974)--premiered in London. In late 1974 he became playwright-in-residence at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco, where most of his plays over the next decade were first produced.

Shepard's works of the mid-1970s showed a heightening of earlier techniques and themes. In Killer's Head (produced 1975), for example, the rambling monologue, a Shepard stock-in-trade, blends horror and banality in a murderer's last thoughts before electrocution; Angel City (produced 1976) depicts the destructive machinery of the Hollywood entertainment industry; and Suicide in B-flat (produced 1976) exploits the potentials of music as an expression of character.

Beginning in the late 1970s, Shepard applied his unconventional dramatic vision to a more conventional dramatic form, the family tragedy. Curse of the Starving Class (produced 1977; film 1994), the Pulitzer Prize-winning Buried Child (produced 1978), and True West (produced 1980) are linked thematically in their examination of troubled and tempestuous blood relationships in a fragmented society.

Shepard returned to acting in the late 1970s, winning critical accolades for his performances in such films as Days of Heaven (1978); Resurrection (1980); The Right Stuff (1983), for which he received an Academy Award nomination; and Fool for Love (1985), which was written by Shepard and based on his 1983 play of the same name. In 1982 he was cast in Frances, and during the filming he began a relationship with Jessica Lange that continued until 2009. He also appeared in screen adaptations of other writers' novels, including The Pelican Brief (1993), Snow Falling on Cedars (1999), All the Pretty Horses (2000), and The Notebook (2004).

Among Shepard's later films are The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) and Blackthorn (2011), in which he portrayed the American outlaws Frank James and Butch Cassidy, respectively. He portrayed the hard-bitten uncle of a pair of down-and-out brothers (played by Casey Affleck and Christian Bale) in the violent small-town drama Out of the Furnace (2013) and a father whose suicide precipitates a family crisis in August: Osage County (2013), an adaptation of the play by Tracy Letts. Shepard was lauded for his grim turn as a man whose son is killed during a burglary in the darkly comic thriller Cold in July (2014). In 2016 he appeared in the drama In Dubious Battle, which was based on a John Steinbeck novel about striking farmworkers.

Shepard's other plays include La Turista (produced 1967), The Unseen Hand (produced 1969), Operation Sidewinder (produced 1970), Seduced (produced 1978), A Lie of the Mind (produced 1985), Simpatico (produced 1994; film 1999), The God of Hell (produced 2004), Ages of the Moon (produced 2009), Heartless (produced 2012), and A Particle of Dread (first produced 2014). In addition, he published several collections of short stories, such as Day out of Days (2010). In 1986 Shepard was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

While struggling with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Shepard wrote his final work, the novel Spy of the First Person. It centres on the reflections of a dying man. The book was published in December 2017, some five months after Shepard's death.

Top 121 Sam Shepard quotes

I feel like I've never had a home, you know? I feel related to the country, to this country, and yet I don't know exactly where I fit in... There's always this kind of nostalgia for a place, a place where you can reckon with yourself.
Always
Country
Exactly
Feel
Fit
Had
Home
I feel
I feel like
Kind
Know
Like
Never
Nostalgia
I didn't go out of my way to get into this movie stuff. I think of myself as a writer.
Get
Go
I think
Movie
Myself
Out
Stuff
Think
Way
Writer
I'm a writer. The more I act, the more resistance I have to it. If you accept work in a movie, you accept to be entrapped for a certain part of time, but you know you're getting out. I'm also earning enough to keep my horses, buying some time to write.
Accept
Act
Also
Buying
Certain
Earning
Enough
Getting
Horses
Keep
Know
More
Movie
Out
You can't make a living as a playwright. You can barely scrape by.
Barely
Living
Make
Playwright
Scrape
You
Sides are being divided now. It's very obvious. So if you're on the other side of the fence, you're suddenly anti-American. It's breeding fear of being on the wrong side.
Anti-american
Being
Breeding
Divided
Fear
Fence
Now
Obvious
Other
Side
Sides
Suddenly
Very
Wrong
Democracy's a very fragile thing. You have to take care of democracy. As soon as you stop being responsible to it and allow it to turn into scare tactics, it's no longer democracy, is it? It's something else. It may be an inch away from totalitarianism.
Allow
Away
Being
Being responsible
Care
Democracy
Else
Fragile
Fragile thing
Inch
Longer
May
Responsible
Scare
Film acting is really the trick of doing moments. You rarely do a take that lasts more than 20 seconds. You really earn your spurs acting onstage. I needed to do that for myself. I would hate to say at the end of everything that I never did a stage play.
Acting
Did
Doing
Earn
End
Everything
Film
Film acting
Hate
Lasts
Moments
More
Myself
Needed
Hollywood is geared toward teenage idiocy.
Geared
Hollywood
Idiocy
Teenage
Toward
I'm not in demand. I'm all washed up.
Demand
Up
Washed
It's one of the great tragedies of our contemporary life in America, that families fall apart. Almost everybody has that in common.
Almost
America
Apart
Common
Contemporary
Contemporary life
Everybody
Fall
Families
Great
Life
Our
Tragedies
There are places where writing is acting and acting is writing. I'm not so interested in the divisions. I'm interested in the way things cross over.
Acting
Cross
Divisions
Interested
Over
Places
Things
Way
Where
Writing
I don't get offered leading parts. I suppose I've become a kind of character actor or sideman. I think it had to do with probably in the '90s, I refused so many leading roles that they gave up on me, or I just became unpopular, or I became old. All those reasons.
Actor
Became
Become
Character
Character actor
Gave
Get
Had
I think
Just
Kind
Leading
Many
Me
It's funny, in a way the actor is a writer. It's not like the two things are so separate as to be like apples and oranges. The writer and the actor are one.
Actor
Apples
Funny
Like
Oranges
Separate
Things
Two
Way
Writer
To sing a song is quite different than to write a poem. I'm not and never will be a novelist, but to write a novel is not the same thing as writing a play. There is a difference in form, but essentially what you're after is the same thing.
After
Difference
Different
Essentially
Form
Never
Novel
Novelist
Play
Poem
Quite
Same
Same thing
Sing
In real life we don't know what's going to happen next. So how can you be that way on a stage? Being alive to the possibility of not knowing exactly how everything is going to happen next - if you can find places to have that happen onstage, it can resonate with an experience of living.
Alive
Being
Everything
Exactly
Experience
Find
Going
Happen
How
Know
Knowing
Life
Living
Next
I've come to feel that if I can't make something happen in under an hour and a half, it's not going to happen in a compelling way in a three-hour play.
Come
Compelling
Feel
Going
Half
Happen
Hour
Hour and a half
Make
Play
Something
Way
You sometimes use the excuse, 'I'm a writer, dammit, I can do anything I want,' but that doesn't work.
Anything
Excuse
I can
Sometimes
Use
Want
Work
Writer
You
For me, playwriting is and has always been like making a chair. Your concerns are balance, form, timing, lights, space, music. If you don't have these essentials, you might as well be writing a theoretical essay, not a play.
Always
Balance
Been
Chair
Concerns
Essay
Essentials
Form
Lights
Like
Making
Me
Might
Music
There's no way to escape the fact that we've grown up in a violent culture, we just can't get away from it, it's part of our heritage. I think part of it is that we've always felt somewhat helpless in the face of this vast continent. Helplessness is answered in many ways, but one of them is violence.
Always
Answered
Away
Continent
Culture
Escape
Face
Fact
Felt
Get
Grown
Grown-up
Helpless
Helplessness
When you write a play, you work out like a musician on a piece of music. You find all the rhythms and the melody and the harmonies and take them as they come.
Come
Find
Harmonies
Like
Melody
Music
Musician
Out
Piece
Play
Rhythms
Take
Them
Work
Sometimes in someone's gestures you can notice how a parent is somehow inhabiting that person without there being any awareness of that. Sometimes you can look at your hand and see your father.
Any
Awareness
Being
Father
Gestures
Hand
How
Look
Notice
Parent
Person
See
Somehow
Someone
My old man tried to force on me a notion of what it was to be a 'man.' And it destroyed my dad.
Be a man
Dad
Destroyed
Force
Man
Me
Notion
Old
Old man
Tried
My dad had a lot of bad luck. You could see his suffering, his terrible suffering, living a life that was disappointing and looking for another one.
Another
Bad
Bad luck
Could
Dad
Disappointing
Had
His
Life
Living
Looking
Lot
Luck
See
I got to New York when I was eighteen. I was knocking around, trying to be an actor, writer, musician, whatever happened.
Actor
Around
Eighteen
Got
Happened
Knocking
Musician
New
New york
Trying
Whatever
Writer
York
After the falling out with my father, I worked on a couple of ranches - thoroughbred layup farms, actually - out toward Chino, California. That was fine for a little while, but I wanted to get out completely, and twenty miles away wasn't far enough.
Actually
After
Away
California
Couple
Enough
Falling
Far
Farms
Father
Fine
Get
Little
Little while
Writing for the theatre is so different to writing for anything else. Because what you write is eventually going to be spoken. That's why I think so many really powerful novelists can't write a play - because they don't understand that it's spoken - that it hits the air. They don't get that.
Air
Anything
Anything else
Because
Different
Else
Eventually
Get
Going
Hits
I think
Many
Novelists
Play
The thing about American writers is that, as a group, they get stuck in the same idea: that we're a continent and the world falls away after us. And it's just nonsense.
About
After
American
American writers
Away
Continent
Falls
Get
Group
Idea
Just
Nonsense
Same
Stuck
I'm still very much a believer in the spontaneity of certain kinds of writing. But then you have to eventually, when you're writing a long play, make adjustments along the way - all kinds of adjustments.
Adjustment
Along
Believer
Certain
Eventually
Kinds
Long
Make
Much
Play
Spontaneity
Still
Then
Very
I've been so spoiled in the theater, writing plays where I can just do exactly what I want and nobody messes with me.
Been
Exactly
Exactly what
I can
Just
Me
Messes
Nobody
Plays
Spoiled
Theater
Want
Where
Writing
When I just sit around my house and work, I can work two, three hours, and then I go off and ride a horse or do something that I perceive to be a lot more fun.
Around
Fun
Go
Horse
Hours
House
I can
Just
Lot
More
Off
Perceive
Ride
Sit
I never considered myself a movie star, and I didn't want to become a movie star, because as soon as you do, you throw away that possibility of playing character. You really do. All of a sudden you're just an entity, you know?
Away
Because
Become
Character
Considered
Entity
Just
Know
Movie
Movie star
Myself
Never
Playing
Possibility
I think a part of the reason that those early plays were short was that I just kept having these ideas, and I'd just go off and write them. I wasn't trying to write one-act plays - it's just how the ideas would be expressed. Every condition I was in seemed like it could be a play.
Condition
Could
Early
Every
Expressed
Go
Having
How
I think
Ideas
Just
Kept
Like
Off
I feel very lucky and privileged to be a writer. I feel lucky in the sense that I can branch out into prose and tell different kinds of stories and stuff. But being a writer is so great because you're literally not dependent on anybody.
Anybody
Because
Being
Branch
Dependent
Different
Different kinds
Feel
Great
I can
I feel
Kinds
Literally
Lucky
My son, Walker, has a band called The Dust Busters. You know, he plays banjo, fiddle, guitar, and mandolin, so a lot of my interest in that kind of music comes from him constantly listening to this stuff. He's taught me the history of it. It's remarkable how these young kids are now turned on to more traditional old-time music.
Band
Banjo
Constantly
Dust
Fiddle
Guitar
He
Him
History
How
Interest
Kids
Kind
Know
Writing for theatre is certainly different to writing an essay or any other kind of fiction or prose: it's physical. You're also telling a story, but sometimes the story isn't exactly what you intend; maybe you uncover something you had no idea you were going to uncover.
Also
Any
Certainly
Different
Essay
Exactly
Exactly what
Fiction
Going
Had
Idea
Intend
Kind
Maybe
On stage, you're not limited at all because you're free in language: language is the source of the imagination. You can travel farther in language than you can in any film.
Any
Because
Farther
Film
Free
Imagination
Language
Limited
Source
Stage
Than
Travel
You
I always thought the desert was the antithesis of peace - something that attacks you. So you don't go to the desert for peace.
Always
Antithesis
Attacks
Desert
Go
Peace
Something
Thought
You
I'm a great believer in chaos. I don't believe that you start with a formula and then you fulfill the formula. Chaos is a much better instigator, because we live in chaos - we don't live in a rigorous form.
Because
Believe
Believer
Better
Chaos
Form
Formula
Fulfill
Great
Great believer
Live
Much
Rigorous
Start
The funny thing about having all this so-called success is that behind it is a certain horrible emptiness.
About
Behind
Certain
Emptiness
Funny
Funny thing
Having
Horrible
So-called
Success
Success is
Thing
I think without writing I would feel completely useless.
Feel
I think
Think
Useless
Without
Would
Writing
The great thing for me, now, is that writing has become more and more interesting. Not just as a craft but as a way into things that are not described. It's a thing of discovering. That's when writing is really working. You're on the trail of something, and you don't quite know what it is.
Become
Craft
Discovering
Great
Great thing
Interesting
Just
Know
Me
More
More and more
Now
Quite
Really
I'm inhabiting a life I'm not supposed to be in... and at certain times in my life, I have felt a wrongness. And not a moral wrongness but a sense that this isn't what I was born to be doing.
Born
Certain
Doing
Felt
I was born
Life
Moral
My life
Sense
Supposed
Times
I was shot in the wrist when I was a kid. Deliberately.
Deliberately
Kid
Shot
Wrist
The words I overuse are all adverbs.
Words
All of the great writers whom I admire have died. I guess the most recent one would be Marquez.
Admire
Died
Great
Guess
Most
Recent
Whom
Would
Would-be
Writers
I am always relaxed.
Always
Am
I am
Relaxed
I feel like the writers that I'm drawn to, the writers that I really cling to, are the writers who seem to be writing out of a desperate act. It's like their writing is part of a survival kit. Those are the writers that I just absolutely cherish and carry with me everywhere I go.
Absolutely
Act
Carry
Cherish
Cling
Desperate
Drawn
Everywhere
Feel
Go
I feel
I feel like
Just
Kit
Personality is everything that's false in a human: everything that's been added on to him and contrived.
Added
Been
Contrived
Everything
False
Him
Human
Personality
More than anything, falling in love causes a certain female thing in a man to manifest, oddly enough.
Anything
Causes
Certain
Enough
Falling
Falling in love
Female
Love
Man
Manifest
More
More than anything
Oddly
Than
It's my private life, and it's not up for grabs.
Life
Private
Private life
Up

Sam Shepard essays

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Disobeying The Rule Of THE DADDY In Buried Child English Literature Essay
The time of Sophocles' dramatizing Oedipus and Antigone has exceeded and a great number of changes has took place to the level, but since there are things which have no end with the duration of time we still can find traces of common myths inside our modern episode that are magnificently adapted to your modern era. Sam Shepard's family play Buried Child depicts a retelling of many mythic stories from the myth of Oedipus to the Egyptian myth of Osiris. In this article a mythic light is shed on the level of Shepard's masterpiece. The rules of the family structure are shattered and divided, especially..
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