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Elliot Norton Reviews; True West


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Elliot Norton Reviews
True West
Program Number


Series Description

Boston theatre critic Elliot Norton interviews prominent actors, directors and producers on their craft. (Aired from October, 1958 to 1982. Winner of both Peabody and Tony Awards.) Series release date: 1958

Program Description

Elliot Norton interviews director David Wheeler and actors John Bottoms and François de la Giroday about their production of Sam Shepard’s True West. The play is part of an American Repertory Theatre mini-series performed at the Hasty Pudding Theatre. The play centers around two brothers; Austin (Giroday) is an ivy league graduate and aspiring screenwriter who is house-sitting for his mother’s California home when his coarse brother Lee (Bottoms) returns after a five year absence, takes Austin’s car, and cons his producer into thinking his screenplay is better than his brother’s. According to Norton, the play is a “fierce family conflict” and “a struggle of dominance.”

Giroday explains that the play is about brothers dealing with the anger that they have within themselves and which erupts when they are reunited. The guests and Norton discuss the Kane and Abel story and the concept of brotherly rivalry. Other topics of discussion include identity, envy, and how well the brothers know each other. The guests agree that the brothers feel a sense of frustration that their lives are empty. Giroday compares the brothers to two like magnets who can’t come together. Every time they try to come together they clash. Wheeler brings up the failure of the brothers’ father and how this affects them. They discuss the meaning of the title, True West, and the nostalgic view of the American West. Giroday says that the relationship of the brothers deteriorates into “two coyotes” snarling at each other. They discuss Sam Shepard’s other plays and praise his talent as a playwright.

Director: Marcia Hulley. Taped 4/16/1982.

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Talk Show
Performing Arts
Chicago: “Elliot Norton Reviews; True West,” 04/16/1982, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed December 16, 2018, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_309534A7BEDE4E719B6173B20F344EEB.
MLA: “Elliot Norton Reviews; True West.” 04/16/1982. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. December 16, 2018. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_309534A7BEDE4E719B6173B20F344EEB>.
APA: Elliot Norton Reviews; True West. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_309534A7BEDE4E719B6173B20F344EEB
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