Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Sam Shepard interviewed by Joe Penhall

In 1972, Shepard escaped to London for a couple of years - and it was then that his writing took a quantum leap forward. He was asked to direct his friends Bob Hoskins, Stephen Rea and Kenneth Cranham in his first major play, Geography of a Horse Dreamer, at the Royal Court. "It was a great experience, which changed the way I approached writing, because I started writing for the actors. I'd shape things and move them around and realise what was possible or not possible. You understand the rhythmic structures much better when you work directly with actors. It's like a piece of music, it shifts and changes."

Hemingway said that writing is all about rewriting and, having directed, Shepard learned to rewrite. "With the early stuff I never rewrote anything. It was the arrogance of youth. 'Fuck it, if you don't understand it I'll just write another one.'

"I was riding those plays, like you'd ride a horse. You'd go as hard as you could, then get off and get on another one and go again and not really give a shit about how you're riding them. You'd just leave them wet and go and get on the next one. But then I started to become interested in the form and what was possible. How you have to pay attention to certain details of language, of structure, of rhythm, in order to make a play that wasn't just opening a window and letting wind rush through the room. Now," he concludes, "I love rewriting. I go over and over and over stuff - it's become a fetish."
More in The Guardian.

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