True West,an iconic drama about the “real” American West, explores issues of explosive masculinity and American dreams of freedom and Hollywood success. The conventional Austin struggles with his screenplay in a retreat from family at his mother’s home when his rogue brother Lee blows in from the desert and takes over his career and life. In a 1973 Obit, the New York Times writes that Mr. Shepard’shallucinatory plays redefined the landscape of the American West and its inhabitants.
The recent Broadway revival of True West, featuring Ethan Hawke and Paul Dano, inspired an important article in the August Atlantic Monthly that explores the sources for American predatory male behavior and overweening politics, and the despair of its white underclass—timely subjects.
Initially I worried that True West, with its buried history of Native American life, a bleak desert and suburban landscape, and the loner cowboy figure would not be accessible enough to a Nepali audience. But as we dug deeper into the layers of Sam Shepard’s text in rehearsals, it became apparent that creeping commercialism, fascination with Hollywood, and a kind of existential loneliness does not belong to America alone. We all perhaps mourn our lost Paradises, whether it is the mythic American West or Nepali village life. As the story became more and more human and accessible to us, we were able to recognize under the black humor and toxic masculinity, the harm done to young souls by dysfunctional families and the strong grip of brotherly love and rage. We hope that you too will find True West a gripping story—true to life.
- This production is dedicated to Hemanta Chalise, 1988--2019, gifted actor and loving friend, who was able to hold onto his dream of a creative, beautiful life…for a time.