Sam Shepard’s Kicking A Dead Horse is a play about a man who mourns his lost identity, while searching for authenticity. Riding off into the west and getting stuck in a priarie with a dead horse right off bat, he struggles with connecting with the earth again. Sam Shepard is an accomplished director and actor and also happens to be one of my favorite American Playwrights. Originally The New York Public Theatre was Sam Shepard’s East Village stomping ground in the 60’s during his coming of age as a playwritght. Since then, he has become the iconic rock and roll playwright, the lone rebel from the west. In his works you can appreciate the heavyweight influence of playwrights, Samuel Beckett and Winston Churchill. And if you’re a theatre head (no pun intended), you get Beckett’s postmodernism and Churchill’s emotional undertones in Shepard’s plays (check out Cowboy Mouth).
Having said this, in 1982, one of my dream theatre ensembles, The Steppenwolf Theater Company did a revival of Shepard’s True West at The Cherry Lane Theater. This play was inspired by myths of American life and popular culture. Well, the show made such a wake, a televised recording was made featuring Gary Sinise and John Malkovich playing the leads. Below is the recording aired on PBS, courtesy of youtube culture. Included in this cast are Gary Sinise as “Austin,” John Malkovich as “Lee,” Sam Saul as “Saul” and Margaret Thomson as “Mom.” The brothers, Austin and Lee’s sibling rivalry downward-spiral to Shepard’s interpretation of the “Western movie showdown.” Savor such good text and keep coming back for seconds. Dixie
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