Tribute to Sam Shepard: Buried Child to Air on THIRTEEN

August 2, 2017

Sam Shepard at left in Great Performances: Sam Shepard – Stalking Himself.

THIRTEEN mourns the death of critically acclaimed and award-winning playwright Sam Shepard, who died last week at age 73 due to complications from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). In November 2016, Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Buried Child debuted on THIRTEEN’s Theater Close-Up series. In tribute to Shepard and his great body of work, THIRTEEN will re-broadcast Buried Child on Friday, August 4 at 9pm. The production by The New Group is available to stream online now for those within the New York metro area.

Shepard’s rise to fame began in 1979 when Buried Child (1978) earned him the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. He was also a Pulitzer Prize finalist for True West (1980), part of the Family Trilogy that includes Buried Child and Curse of the Starving Class (1977), and for Fool for Love (1983). As an actor, he received an Oscar nomination for playing the test pilot Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff (1983). Shepard was most recently seen in the Netflix series Bloodline, playing the patriarch of a troubled family in the Florida Keys.

Theater Close-Up: Buried Child

The New Group production of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Buried Child is directed by Scott Elliott. The play depicts a dairy farming family whose fortunes have greatly declined and for whom a dark secret looms. The actors include Ed Harris and Amy Madigan as the couple Dodge and Halie (Harris and Madigan are also a married couple), Rich Sommer and Paul Sparks as sons Bradley and Tilden, respectively, Nat Wolff as grandson Vince, Taissa Farmiga as Vince’s girlfriend Shelly, and Larry Pine as Father Dewis.

Buried Child — captured live on-stage during the March 30, 2016, BroadwayHD livestream –- was revived 20 years after its last major New York production. Dodge (Harris) and Halie (Madigan) are barely hanging on to their farmland and their sanity while looking after their two wayward grown sons (Sommer and Sparks). When their grandson Vince (Wolff) arrives with his girlfriend (Farmiga), no one seems to recognize him, and confusion abounds. As Vince tries to make sense of the chaos, the rest of the family dances around a deep, dark secret. This wildly poetic and cuttingly funny take on the American family drama gleefully pulls apart the threadbare deluded visions of our families and our homes.

Ben Brantley in The New York Times found the play “Thoughtful and absorbing. Ed Harris is splendid. Mr. Elliott’s production wants us to listen to Mr. Shepard’s characters as if they truly were members of our own family, so that (just like our own family) they can sucker-punch us when we feel most unguarded.”

Wilborn Hampton, The Huffington Post, said it was “A riveting revival that captures the symbolism and rich poetic imagery that makes Shepard so unique. This is vintage Shepard in the hands of masters.”

Among the other creative talent on the production are Derek McLane (scenic design), Susan Hilferty (costume design), Peter Kaczorowski (lighting design) and Jeremy S. Bloom (sound design).

The production took place at The Pershing Square Signature Center, and reunited Sam Shepard with The New Group, following the company’s 2010 production of his play A Lie of the Mind (1985). Ed Harris and Amy Madigan had appeared at the New Group in the acclaimed 2013 production of Beth Henley’s The Jacksonian. Buried Child had its New York premiere in 1978 and was revived on Broadway in 1996.

Ed Harris Interview with NYC-ARTS

NYC-ARTS co-host Paula Zahn speaks with Ed Harris, one of the most respected actors of our time, about his career and about his performance in The New Group’s recent revival of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Buried Child.

Theater Close-Up Productions Online Now

After their broadcasts on THIRTEEN, streaming of Theater Close-Up productions is restricted to THIRTEEN viewing area.

The nine Season One episodes to watch are:

Looking at Christmas, The Iliad, The Vandal, Regular Singing, Sweet and Sad, Sorry, That Hopey Changing Thing, Hellman vs. McCarthy, and London Wall.

Season Two Theater Close-Up productions to watch now are:

Old Hats with Bill Irwin and David Shiner at the Signature Theatre, Rasheeda Speaking from The New Group, Fashions for Men from Mint Theater, Wiesenthal filmed at the Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row, Repairing a Nation from Crossroads Theatre Company in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Incident at Vichy from Signature Theatre, and The Woodsman recorded at New World Stages.