New York City’s La MaMa, the Off-Off-Broadway theatre that the late Sam Shepard regularly called home, is set to pay tribute to the celebrated playwright October 7. Shepard debuted several of his plays at the downtown theatre, including Chicago (1966), Melodrama Play (1967), Changes (1969), The Unseen Hand (1969), and The Holy Ghostly (1969), among many more.
La MaMa will celebrate Shepard’s life and career with live and video tributes, and the presentation of rare footage and photos in the Ellen Stewart Theatre. The event will kick off at 3 PM.
“Sam Shepard and Ellen Stewart pioneered a new era of art-making that changed theatre forever,” commented Mia Yoo, La MaMa’s current artistic director, in a press statement. “[He] has a special place at La MaMa. He helped shape La MaMa’s legacy. Our founder Stewart gave him free rein to fully explore his potential.”
Shepard was one of the playwrights championed by the late Stewart throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s. La MaMa also produced his plays Shaved Splits (1970); Superstitions: The Sad Lament of Pecos Bill (1983); Shepardsets: Angel City, Suicide in B flat, Back Bog Beast Bait (1984); Tongues (1984); and Geography of a Horse Dreamer (1985).
The prolific, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright passed away July 27 at age 73. From 1966 through 1968, Shepard won six Obie Awards in the Best Distinguished Plays category for Chicago, Icarus’s Mother, Red Cross, La Turista, Forensic and the Navigator, and Melodrama Play. He would go on to win seven more Obie Awards honoring his Off-Broadway achievements, including a Best Playwriting honor for Buried Child (1979), which also won him the Pulitzer.
Look Back at the Works of Sam Shepard On the Stage
La MaMa will present readings of Shepard’s early plays in January 2018 in The Ellen Stewart Theatre. Slated to direct are Estelle Parsons, Neil LaBute, Scott Wittman, and Joel Zwick. For more information on the theatre’s upcoming programming, visit LaMaMa.org.