“Austin is working on a movie script that he has sold to producer Saul Kimmer when Lee stumbles back in to his life. Never content to watch from the sidelines he pitches his own idea to Kimmer, an action which has far reaching consequences…”
Matthew Dunster directs the West End premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright Sam Shepard’s modern classic, ‘True West’, which will run at London’s Vaudeville Theatre for a limited season.
The production will star Kit Harington (Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow) and Johnny Flynn (ITV’s Vanity Fair) as warring brothers Austin and Lee. They will be joined by Madeleine Potter as Mom, and Donald Sage Mackay as producer, Saul Kimmer. Creatives will include Jon Bausor (set and costume design), Joshua Carr (lighting design) and Ian Dickinson For Autograph (sound design).
Published in 1981, the play (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1983) has been performed all over the world, winning awards at both a national and regional level, with the most recent revival gaining Tony Award nominations for Best Play, and for actors John C. Reilly and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who traded off playing brothers Austin and Lee.
‘True West’ was first performed at the Magic Theatre, San Francisco, where Shepard was resident playwright, in July 1980, before transferring to the Marines Memorial Theatre in 1981. The production had its Off-Broadway premiere at Joseph Papp’s The Public Theatre in December 1980, closing in January 1981.
The play was revived by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 1982, and starred the then unknown Gary Sinise (who also directed) and John Malkovich, as Austin and Lee respectively. This production then transferred Off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre in October 1982, closing in August 1984, after 762 performances. A television movie of the stage play, featuring Sinise and Malkovich, aired on the PBS series American Playhouse in January 1984.
Shepard is considered to be one of the most respected of contemporary American playwrights, with True West his “most accessible play” (Variety), one that truthfully uncovers the darker side of human nature.
Regarding the work, playwright Shepard said, “I wanted to write a play about double nature, one that wouldn’t be symbolic or metaphorical or any of that stuff. I just wanted to give a taste of what it feels like to be two-sided. It’s a real thing, double nature. I think we’re split in a much more devastating way than psychology can ever reveal. It’s not so cute. Not some little thing we can get over. It’s something we’ve got to live with.”
The play will be the first production of his work since his death in July 2017.
“Sam Shepard is contemporary American drama, True West is contemporary America” – The Guardian.
“Set in the searing heat of the Californian desert this critically acclaimed drama pits brother against brother as a family tears itself apart, exposing the cracks in the American Dream”.
‘True West’ is produced by Smith and Brant Theatricals and Empire Street Productions.
‘True West’ will run at the Vaudeville Theatre from 23rd November 2018 to Saturday 16th February, 2019. Tickets are now on sale.