Celebrating Sam Shepard

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Today would have marked Sam Shepard's 74th birthday, for us at San Jose Stage November 5th will become an annual day of celebration.  Shepard transformed the landscape of American Theatre, his passing in July of this year left a hole in the theatre community yet his words and impact live on through his masterful works.   Works which have, do, & will continue to shape the perspective of theatre artists & audiences alike.

I hate endings. Just detest them... The most authentic endings are the ones which are already revolving towards another beginning. That’s genius.
— Sam Shepard

His affect on our company alone is as profound as the themes found within his plays, shaping the very core of San Jose Stage's mission to illuminate the human condition.    As Clinton Stark wrote of San Jose Stage Artistic Director Randall King: “You get the feeling there’s kinship here between Shepard and King.”  The Stage is pleased to add Fool for Love (opening November 25, 2017) to our lexicon of produced Shepard works, including; Geography of a Horse Dreamer (1987), True West (1988 & 2006), Curse of the Starving Class (1993), & Buried Child (2012).  

We hope that you will join us November 22-December 17, 2017 as we pay homage to this American Theatre Icon with our production of Fool for Love. 

About Sam Shepard


Sam Shepard, was an American playwright, actor, author, screenwriter, and director whose body of work spanned half a century.  Described by New York magazine as "the greatest American playwright of his generation.”  He wrote 44 plays, 10 of which won Obie Awards for writing and directing, the most given to any writer or director.  Shepard received the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award as a master American dramatist in 2009.

Shepard's plays are chiefly known for their bleak, poetic, often surrealist elements, dark humor, and rootless characters living on the outskirts of American society.  His style evolved over the years, from the absurdism of his early Off-Off-Broadway work to the realism of Buried Child and Curse of the Starving Class (both 1978).

Penning his first play in 1964, in unprecedented fashion, his next three works Chicago, Icarus's Mother and Red Cross, were all written in 1965, which would earn him his first three Obie Awards.  In 1975, Shepard was named playwright-in-residence at the Magic Theatre, where he created many of his notable works, including his Family Trilogy. One of the plays in the trilogy, Buried Child, won the 1978 Pulitzer Prize, and was nominated for five Tony Awards.  This also marked a major turning point in his career, heralding some of his best-known work, including True West, Fool for Love, and A Lie of the Mind.

As an actor he had a nearly 40 year career portraying over 70 roles in TV & Film.  His first high-profile role came as the lead in Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven in 1978.  Other notable films include: Frances (1982) where he began his 30 year romance with Jessica Lange,  The Right Stuff (1983) earning him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor nomination for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager, Steel Magnolias (1989), The Pelican Brief (1993), Black Hawk Down (2001), The Notebook (2004), Safe House (2011) and Mud (2013).  In 2015 he joined the Netflix original series Bloodline, co-starring Sissy Spacek.

In July of 2017 he died in his home in Kentucky due to complications of Lou Gehrig’s disease at the age of 73.

Clinton Williams