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"14 years of change in sam shepard's six plays"
14 years of change in sam shepard's six plays
Author:
Tamara Moore
Fourteen Years of Change in Sam Shepard's Six Plays

Sam Shepard wrote his first two plays, Cowboys and Rock Garden at the age of twenty. Three years later, in 1966 his plays Chicago, Icarus's Mother and Red Cross won the Village Voice Obie Award for distinguished Playwriting. In 1968 Forensic and the Navigators and Melodrama Play won him his third Obie. In this paper I will focus on three of these plays, Chicago, Icarus's Mother, and Melodrama Play, and compare them with some of the plays he wrote in the late seventies and early eighties, namely Curse of the Starving Class, Buried Child and True West.

The first group of plays I will talk about all consist of only one act. They are highly experimental both in language and content. They have a certain feeling of immediacy and it is obvious that Sam Shepard most probably wrote them at one sitting and did not change anything he wrote down.

Like William S. Burroughs, one of the most important names of the Beat Generation, Shepard blended different elements of popular culture, like youth culture and science fiction in his works. He used rock and roll culture in Melodrama Play and created a dystopic science fictional paranoia with the airplane whose pilot, the characters thought, might see them like some kind of a "Big Brother" and even heightened that science fictional atmosphere when he made the plane crash and cause a nuclear explosion as seen in the picture below.


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There is also an obvious influence of William S. Burroughs's cut up technique, a kind of verbal collage, which he first used in his notorious work Naked Lunch, as well as Jack Kerouac's jazzy improvisation – as seen in On the Road, which he wrote in three weeks without stopping - in Sam Shepard's experimental language...

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