True West

Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer finalist and Tony-nominated play “True West” is a Cain and Abel story of brotherly love and sibling rivalry set against the Dreams of the American West. Successful screenwriter Austin settles in to housesit his mother’s desert home to write his next screenplay, while his brother Lee, an alcoholic drifter, arrives to rob the neighborhood. A hysterically twisted story unfolds as the estranged brothers torment each other until they are forced to collaborate on a screenplay for Austin’s producer with the promise of a huge Hollywood payday. Ultimately reversing roles and finding themselves inside the other’s shoes, the two brothers discover that this town ain’t big enough for the both of them …

Three Things to Know:

  1. True West was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1983.
  2. True West was produced by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 1982, with then fairly unknown actors Gary Sinise (who also directed the production) and John Malkovich playing the leads. A television movie of the stage play, featuring Sinise and Malkovich, aired on American Playhouse in January 1984, and launched the careers of both Gary Sinise and John Malkovich. 
  3. Shepard wrote 44 plays and earned 10 Obie awards for writing and directing.

Click to See Performance Dates

The Dark & Comedic True West at ATC

Arizona is in for a true Western masterpiece this month when ATC presents the acclaimed Sam Shepard play True West, nominated in 1983 for a Pulitzer Prize and in 2000 for three Tony Awards, including Best Play, and two Drama Desk Awards.

Director Jenn Thompson brings a wealth of experience to her task. Nominated for a Drama Desk Award, she has directed plays on and off Broadway, as well as in theaters across the country. Raised in a theatrical family in New York City, Thompson, at age 10, played the original Pepper in Annie on Broadway. She would eventually transition from acting into directing. Continue Reading …

ATC to Conclude 56th Season With Sam Shepard’s True West

Arizona Theatre Company will present Sam Shepard’s True West in an electrifying conclusion to its 56th season. This raw and gripping production promises audiences a hilariously unforgettable journey into the heart of family, rivalry, and the American Dream.

True West depicts the turbulent relationship between two estranged brothers, Austin and Lee, as they find themselves thrust together in their absent mother’s Western suburban home. Their opposite Cain and Abel personalities collide in a fierce battle for dominance, sparking a chain reaction of unexpected consequences that shatters the bonds of brotherhood. Continue Reading …

About the Playwright — Sam Shepard

Sam Shepard has been described by New York Magazine as “the greatest American playwright of his generation,” a description earned as a result of several successful works he created. Gruff, gritty, and bold, Shepard’s work stands out amongst the peers of his time. “He was Tarantino, before Tarantino,” said Kasser Family Artistic Director Matt August. It’s almost hard to believe that this was not always the path for him.

Born in 1943, Shepard became the first of three children in what would become a dysfunctional family unit. His father, a former bomber pilot in World War II and an army officer, was an aggressive alcoholic, while his mother was a mild teacher. The family, like many other military families, moved from place to place based on assignments. This shaky foundation laid the groundwork for Shepard’s dark and abstract plays. Continue Reading …


True West Cast

True West Creatives

First Day Meet & Greet

In the Rehearsal Room


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