With American drama and performance having reached a stage of maturity and international acclaim by the middle of the last century, an increasing number of Irish playwrights acknowledged the influence of American theatre on their work. About the formative and lasting impact of his American experiences on his active interest in the theatre Friel said:. I learned a great deal about the iron discipline of theatre, and I discovered a dedication and a nobility and a selflessness that one associates with a theoretical priesthood.
But much more important than all these, those months in America gave me a sense of liberation — remember, this was my first parole from inbred claustrophobic Ireland — and that sense of liberation conferred on me a valuable self-confidence and a necessary perspective so that the first play I wrote immediately after I came home, Philadelphia, Here I Come! Moving the focus to Shepard, it is conspicuous that Beckett and American theatre in general and this playwright in particular form a vast territory of study with many possible paths and ramifications.
Not that you want to write like him because nobody can , but that what he does is to offer up an entirely new perspective: You can do anything. Another play by Beckett worth considering in a more extended discussion of the lonely character on stage and the absurdity of his slapstick movements might be Act Without Words I , which is a mime from The dramatic subgenre of the monologue could also be the point of departure for a further study of affinities between Kicking a Dead Horse and Irish theatre and its potential for self-reference.
Also, she explores the unmistakably self-referential character of the two plays deriving mainly from the exaggerated clown performance they stage. Beckett, of course, started his career as a poet, which has its obvious if not ragged trace in the lyrically charged language of his plays, Godot no exception. While Shepard drew inspiration from Irish theatre, his work became a source of influence for some pieces of Irish drama.
The drama in which Shepard is most deeply concerned with the American West is, undeniably, True West In a study of examining Irish and American nation-building myths and images beside each other Luke Gibbons claims that. For all their similarities as foundational myths — sharing agrarian ideals, an aversion to law and order and to the centralization of the state — it is the differences between them that are most striking.
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The wild west is an outpost of individualism, extolling the virtues of the self-made man that lie at the heart of the American dream. By contrast, the recourse to the west in Ireland is impelled by a search for community, a desire to escape the isolation of the self and to immerse oneself in the company of others. So long as I go confessing to it anyways. In the last decade of his life Shepard came into close contact with the institution of Irish theatre itself.
The title provokes the obvious question: what can make a quintessentially American playwright like Shepard Irish in the honorary sense , and not only influenced by Irish theatre?
Further on, Watt unpacks a range of manifestations of the manifold connections between Shepard and Ireland that can confirm the odd-looking designation in the title of his essay. Given the high-ranking status of Synge in the field of modern drama, this sounds like a great acclaim of and tribute to the work of Shepard. I want to do something with the emotions that the play is calling up: I want to take off on the feelings that the thing produces. So in the case of Sophocles, he definitely calls up feelings.
I owe thanks to Csilla Bertha, who was kind enough to read the paper at the conference in my absence. Now, three years after the tragic event we still badly miss Gabriella, a fine Americanist from Hungarian acedemic life. The present essay is dedicated to honour her significant work on Sam Shepard. Since Shepard died in late July , while I was expanding my original conference material into the present essay, I dedicate it also to the memory of this eminent, manysided American playwright of our time.
At the same time, Don and Bobby apologize to each other for their mutual deception. This youngster works with Mick Dowd in the cemetary, who is supposed to have killed his wife. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, Harrington writes about the tour of the Abbey in New York that During the first Abbey company visit to America in , the interesting points made in positive or negative criticism were that the national theatre of Ireland had chosen a narrow and difficult course, that it was very effective in it, and that it somehow was more real when it was less real.
About the formative and lasting impact of his American experiences on his active interest in the theatre Friel said: I learned a great deal about the iron discipline of theatre, and I discovered a dedication and a nobility and a selflessness that one associates with a theoretical priesthood. In a study of examining Irish and American nation-building myths and images beside each other Luke Gibbons claims that For all their similarities as foundational myths — sharing agrarian ideals, an aversion to law and order and to the centralization of the state — it is the differences between them that are most striking.
Works Cited Allen, Graham.
Sam Shepard Saw It All Coming
London and New York: Routledge. Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot. New York: Grove Press, These roles are a fantasy of American power and masculinity, self-possessed whether at the edge of outer space, in love, or at war. As Garrison, he watches stoically from his command post while 18 American soldiers are killed and mutilated. Did Shepard take these roles to shame his own characters—or did he write his characters to atone for the fantasies he created on-screen?
The Shepard-written characters who start out most composed end up most deranged. We learn that the seeds of their derangement had germinated long before their entrance. Shepard plays do not just lack happy endings. The happy beginnings are all false, too. The characters with composure think they have escaped what afflicts everyone else onstage. They are naive, and are punished. The plot is simple: Austin is an Ivy League—educated screenwriter on the make, typing out a script at the kitchen table and preparing to close a sale to a major studio.
His older brother, Lee, is a petty thief, uncomfortable in civilization after three months alone in the Mojave Desert. Lee needles Austin into saying something haughty, thereby giving Lee a pretext to strike. Long before blows land, the audience is taking inventory of the props, assessing which could be used by one brother to brain or strangle the other. Reilly alternated roles, flipping a coin before each performance. The tension was psychological: We are not so different, you and I.
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In the Hawke-Dano version, the duality most noticeable was the one endlessly autopsied after the election, between the prosperous, educated, liberal elite and the unlettered, scrounging, embittered working class. What stands out is not the similarity of the characters—although that is still there—but their captivity together, and the mutual mauling it ensures. At 48, Hawke was dissolute, his pretty-boy charm replaced with the bullish aggression of paunchy middle age. In , he reeked of meth, the modern scourge of inland California.
Meth knows no political party or if it does, pity the pollster who has to ring doorbells to find out which , but it is absolutely a bringer of misery. With this minor transposition of circumstances, True West is a story of a meth or opioid zombie, who has come to extract a sacrifice from his more prosperous sibling.
Dano played Austin in a panic, as he realizes that he is trapped in a room with a wild animal. But Lee wants respect—or, more than respect, he wants proof that Austin, too, is feral. Like a mother who lifts a car off her child, a dim-witted brother proves suddenly, preternaturally capable. He becomes a genius at manipulation—a psychopath with a vendetta—to make his brother regret his disdain. This hillbilly elegy is a song of revenge. That is perhaps because he saw all sins as original sins, or at least as preexisting conditions.
But some family secrets cannot be escaped or ignored, and the backyard evidence of incest and infanticide is a curse that no act of will or heroism can break. Contrast that with Shepard the actor: His parachute always opens, his kisses are always reciprocated, his enemy is always slain. Shepard himself came from a family that was more Shepard-playwright than Shepard—movie star.
When Shepard made his politics apparent, they usually came down to opposition to war: La Turista is seen as an anti—Vietnam War play; The God of Hell which debuted in , with Randy Quaid in the lead takes aim at the policies of George W.