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American Playhouse; True West

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American Playhouse
True West
Program Number


Series Description

Weekly series of drama, comedy and musical productions. See individual titles or press kit for more info. or description. First production: John Cheever's "The Shady Hill Kidnapping." AMERICAN PLAYHOUSE productions have included filming stage presentations; theatrically released films; produced for television dramas. Series release date: 1/1982

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


Chicago: “American Playhouse; True West,” GBH Archives, accessed October 4, 2023,
MLA: “American Playhouse; True West.” GBH Archives. Web. October 4, 2023. <>.
APA: American Playhouse; True West. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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