News broke July 31 that Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Sam Shepard had died on July 27 following complications with ALS.
From 1966 through 1968, Shepard won six Obie Awards in the Best Distinguished Plays category for 1966’s Chicago, Icarus’s Mother, and Red Cross, 1967’s La Turista, and 1968’s Forensic and the Navigator and Melodrama Play. He would go on to win seven more Obie Awards honoring his Off-Broadway achievements, including Best Playwriting for Buried Child (1979), Best New American Play and Best Direction for Fool For Love (1984), and a Sustained Achievement Award in 1980.
Buried Child won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and was most recently staged in New York by The New Group Off-Broadway during the 2015–2016 season. His Fool for Love played Manhattan Theatre Club’s Friedman Theatre during the 2105–2016 Broadway season. Below, members of the theatre community react to the loss of the two-time Tony nominee and three-time Pulitzer finalist:
"I loved Sam. He has been a huge part of my life, who I am, and he will remain so. I will let others talk about the importance and beauty of his work in theater and film."
—Ed Harris, original star of Fool for Love Off-Broadway and recently seen in the Off-Broadway revival of Buried Child
"He was a poet of the first order. I've acted in many of his plays and directed A Lie of the Mind. He played my father twice on film. Some days he could be irascible. At other times he could be profoundly wise and kind. He was the writer any serious American actor of my generation cut their teeth on. It is a gross understatement to say, he will be missed."
—Ethan Hawke, director of the 2010 New Group revival of A Lie of the Mind who appeared opposite Shepard on screen in Hamlet and Snow Falling on Cedars
One of the first plays I was ever introduced to was Fool for Love ❤️ RIP Sam Shepard.
— Danielle Brooks (@thedanieb) July 31, 2017
Sam Shepard!!! NO. Not acceptable. He made me, he made all of us, want to be better, deeper, more imaginative, more terrifying on the page
— Sarah Treem (@SarahTreem) July 31, 2017
Thank you Sam Shepard for the actors in your plays who were loose and free of affect. Thank you CURSE OF THE STARVING CLASS. https://t.co/yuBgBuSg0H
— Anna Deavere Smith (@AnnaDeavereS) July 31, 2017
Sam Shepard has long been a hero of mine. A versatile artist with an unflinching style entirely his own. A renegade renaissance man. RIP.
— John Gallagher, Jr. (@JohnGallagherJr) July 31, 2017
We lost a true legend today. One that created characters and stories beyond genius. RIP Sam Shepard. Truly one of the best.
A great man of the theater has passed. Thank you, Sam Shepard. RIP.
— jason alexander (@IJasonAlexander) July 31, 2017
Sam Shepard was a towering figure in American theater and film. He indeed had "the right stuff." His voice will truly be missed. https://t.co/gkkK8KHxum
— The Tony Awards (@TheTonyAwards) July 31, 2017
Sam Shepard is one of the greats. These eyes saw so much, and he wrote of what he saw with fearless, timeless honesty. RIP maestro. pic.twitter.com/pIY4FWxXtZ
— Beau Willimon (@BeauWillimon) July 31, 2017
Sad. RIP Sam Shepard. One of the greatest to ever do it. Was a big inspiration for me when I was a theater student and later as a filmmaker. pic.twitter.com/Lry8M8wmic
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) July 31, 2017
Rest n Peace Sam Shepard. A theatrical n literary giant who's artistic voice will be missed n this troubled world.
I preformed Sam Shepard's KILLER'S HEAD, dir by Noah Tuleja at IU, in Howard Jensen's Directing III. I still think about that one act. RIP.
— Arian Moayed (@ArianMoayed) July 31, 2017
(Playbill will continue to update.)