Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

True West — Sam Shepard, RIP

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Just out of the blue hearing the news that renowned actor, playwright, and author Sam Shepard is dead from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) at the age of 73…well, that was a sucker punch I didn’t see coming.

For those of us who were avid thespians or who studied or were fans of playwriting, that’s up there with saying one of our generations’ Shakespeare’s has exited the typewriter.

For those who reveled in Shephard’s onscreen performances, from his magical turn as the Farmer in “Days of Heaven,” to his boundless Chuck Yeager in “The Right Stuff,” to his most recent appearance as the family patriarch, Robert Rayburn, on Netflix’s “Bloodline” — never mind all the various and sundry other character parts where his quiet hugeness absolutely filled up the screen — well hell, I don’t even know where to begin.

Shephard’s work painted on a vast, scrambled, and messy canvas of Americana — and not just the good parts, either. Shephard’s work, while celebrating the epic grandeur of the American West, also dug into the seamy underbelly of the American family, the complexity and psychology and contradictions beneath were far from “Leave it to Beaver”-like.

In fact, in his plays especially, it was typically quite the opposite. The so-called great American family was often one convoluted fireball of dysfunction, often held together only by thin seams of necessity and desperation.

And yet, with his words and his performances, he tried to explain it as best he could when we often didn’t even know what to think about it all ourselves.

It’s an open question as to who might continue to take on such giant questions, particularly in the tumultuous times in which we now find ourselves.

From “True West”: This isn’t champagne anymore. We went through the champagne a long time ago. This is serious stuff. The days of champagne are long gone.

Goodbye and Godspeed, Sam Shepard.

There may not be any champagne left, but you still sure left one hell of an impression.

Written by turbotodd

July 31, 2017 at 1:44 pm

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