March 2, 2024

UMW Theatre Presents ‘True West,’ Through Feb. 25


True West by Sam ShepardUMW Theatre will continue its 2023-2024 season with True West by Sam Shepard.  Performances will be February 15-17 & 22-24 at 7:30 p.m., and 18 & 25 at 2:00 p.m. in Klein Theatre, duPont Hall at the University of Mary Washington. Guests may also attend the Pay-What-You-Can Preview performance on February 14 at 7:30 p.m. The box office opens at 5:30 p.m. and tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. AfterWords, a post-show talkback with the cast, will take place after the matinee performance on February 18. Tickets are $28 for standard admission and $23 for students, senior citizens, and military. Groups of ten or more can receive a discount as well.

True West tells the story of two estranged brothers, Austin and Lee, who have returned to their mother’s home in southern California after five years apart. Austin is an aspiring screenwriter who is looking after his mother’s house while she is away in Alaska, and Lee is his nomadic older brother who finds joy in petty thievery and excessive drinking. The brothers’ relationship is put to the test when a big shot Hollywood producer offers Lee a film contract to create the Western movie he is dreaming up, so long as Austin writes the script. Both brothers must battle their feelings of jealousy and resentment with the possibility of great success on the horizon. This play engages in themes of family, confinement, betrayal, and the American dream as the volatility between the two brothers nears its breaking point.

True West was published by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Sam Shepard, in 1981. It was first produced at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco, California, where it was directed by Robert Woodruff. It premiered on July 10, 1980, and starred Peter Coyote as Austin and Jim Haynie as Lee. In December of that same year, the play opened Off-Broadway at the Joseph Papp Public Theatre, once more directed by Woodruff. True West went on to be produced at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company and the Cherry Lane Theatre in 1982, where it finally closed its Off-Broadway run of 762 productions in 1984. The show had a Broadway revival on March 2, 2000, where the actors playing Lee and Austin alternated roles in every performance. This production earned Tony award nominations for Best Actor, Best Director, and Best play. Most recently, there was a Broadway production of the show starring Ethan Hawke and Paul Dano in 2018. True West continues to be produced worldwide.

True West is directed by Gregg Stull, professor of theatre and chair of the department of theatre & dance. Scenic design is by assistant professor Bridgette Dennett and costume design is by associate professor Kevin McCluskey. Lighting design is by guest designer Catherine Girardi and sound design is by the director of marketing and audience services, Jon Reynolds, respectively. Fight choreography is provided by Casey Kaleba. For further information, call the Klein Theatre Box Office at (540) 654-1111 or visit

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