The Rise and Fall of the Horse Dreamer in Sam Shepard’s Drama
Whereas several theatrical works show Sam Shepard’s longstanding fascination with horses, none of them until the premiere at the Abbey Theatre in 2007 of Kicking a Dead Horse had brought a dead equine to the stage. The striking stage image of the cadaver of a horse dominating the stark setting and the figure of the horsekicker is critically assessed in this article, establishing a comparison with its kindred predecessor, the dreamer of horses in Geography of a Horse Dreamer (1974). Beyond the most obvious connection between these plays, the fact that actor Stephen Rea played the main role in them both, their evolving representation of the animal and the characters’ engagement with it all deserve critical attention as they become a metaphor which reveals the transformations in Shepard’s latest style of theatre. The trope of the horse dreamer is associated with creative freedom. The dramatization of the loss of American dreams in both plays reveals their divergent stance on human imaginative potential and also on the creative process, as the “style of dreaming” is closely related to the style of writing.
Keywords: Sam Shepard; horses; dreams; imagination; animal studies
Albee, Edward. (2002) 2004. The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? New York: Dramatists Play Service.
Barnes, Jonathan, ed., 1984. Aristotle. On Divination in Sleep. In The Complete Works of Aristotle. The Revised Oxford Translation, vol. 1. 736-739. Princeton: Princeton UP.
Billington, Michael. 2008. “Theatre: Kicking a Dead Horse.” The Guardian, September 11. [Accessed online on 14 December, 2014].
Blanchot, Maurice. (1955) 1989. The Space of Literature. Translated with an introduction by Ann Smock. Lincoln and London: U of Nebraska P.
Bottoms, Stephen J. 1998. The Theatre of Sam Shepard: States of Crisis. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
Calarco, Matthew. 2008. Zoographies: The Question of the Animal from Heidegger to Derrida. New York: Columbia UP.
Callens, Johan. 2007. Dis/Figuring Sam Shepard. Brussels: Peter Lang.
Chamberlin, J. Edward. 2006. Horse: How the Horse has Shaped Civilizations. New York: Bluebridge.
Chaudhuri, Una. 2009. “‘Of All Nonsensical Things’: Performance and Animal Life.” PMLA 124 (2): 520-525.
Chubb, Kenneth et al. (1974) 1981. “Metaphors, Mad Dogs and Old Time Cowboys: Interview with Sam Shepard.” In American Dreams: The Imagination of Sam Shepard, edited by Bonnie Marranca, 187-209. New York: PAJ Publications.
Coffin, William A. 1892. “American Illustrations of Today (Third Paper).” Scribner’s Monthly 11 (March): 348.
Daniels, Barry, ed. 1989. Joseph Chaikin & Sam Shepard: Letters and Texts. 1972-1989. New York: Theatre Communication Group.
De Montebello, Philippe. 1984. “Foreword.” In Man and the Horse, edited by
Alexander Mackay-Smith, Jean R. Duesedrow and Thomas Ryder, 6-7. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Simon and Schuster.
DeRose, David J. 1993. Sam Shepard. New York: Twayne.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo. (1844) 2003. “The Poet.” In The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Sixth Edition. Volume B: 1820-1865, edited by Nina
Baym, 1177-1191. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company.
Farbman, Herschel. 2008. The Other Night: Dreaming, Writing and Restlessness in Twentieth Century Literature. New York: Fordham UP.
Felton-Dansky, Miriam. 2009. “Kicking a Dead Horse (Review).” Theatre Journal 61 (1): 107-108.
Freud, Sigmund. (1899) 1953. The Interpretation of Dreams. In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 6. Translated by James Strachey. London: The Hogarth Press.
Garner, Stanton B. Jr. 1998. “Staging ‘Things’: Realism and the Theatrical Object in Shepard’s Theatre.” Contemporary Theatre Review 8 (3): 55-66.
Isherwood, Charles. 2008. “Horse Can’t Head Into the Sunset in Sam Shepard’s New West.” The New York Times, July 15. [Accessed online on 12 December, 2014].
Klinkowitz, Jerome. 1980. The American 1960s: Imaginative Acts in a Decade of Change. Ames: The Iowa State UP.
Kollin, Susan. 2007. “Introduction: Postwestern Studies, Dead or Alive.” In Postwestern Cultures: Literature, Theory, Space, edited by Susan Kollin, ix-xix. Lincoln and London: U of Nebraska P.
McCarthy, Gerry. 1993. “Memory and Mind: Sam Shepard’s Geography of a Horse Dreamer.” In Rereading Shepard: Contemporary Critical Essays on the Plays of Sam Shepard, edited by Leonard Wilcox, 58-76. New York: St. Martin’s.
McDonagh, Martin. (2001) 2003. The Lieutenant of Inishmore. New York: Dramatists Play Service.
Murphy, Brenda. 2002. “Shepard Writes about Writing.” In The Cambridge Companion to Sam Shepard, edited by Matthew Roudané, 123-138. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
Poirier, Richard. 1966. A World Elsewhere: The Place of Style in American Literature. New York: Oxford UP.
Sessums, Kevin. 1998. “Sam Shepard: Geography of a Horse Dreamer.” Interview, September, 70-79.
Shaffer, Peter. 1973. Equus. London: Andre Deutsch.
Shepard, Sam. (1974) 1984. Geography of a Horse Dreamer. In Fool for Love and Other Plays. Toronto, New York, London, Sydney and Auckland: Bantam Books.
—. 1977. “Visualization, Language and the Inner Library.” The Drama Review 21 (4): 49-58.
—. (1988). 1993 Far North. In States of Shock, Far North, Silent Tongue: A Play and Two Screenplays. New York: Vintage.
—. 1996. Plays One: The Unseen Hand, The Rock Garden, Chicago, Icarus’s Mother, 4-H Club, Fourteen Hundred Thousand, Red Cross, Cowboys #2, Forensic and the Navigators, The Holy Ghostly, Operation Sidewinder, The Mad Dog Blues, Back Bog Beast Bait, Killer’s Head. London: Methuen.
—. 2007. Kicking A Dead Horse. London: Faber and Faber.
Shewey, Don. 1997. Sam Shepard. New York: Da Capo Press.
Watkins, Marie. 2008. “Frederic Remington.” In Icons of the American West: From Cowgirls to Silicon Valley, edited by Gordon Morris Bakken, 231-276. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.
Wetzsteon, Ross. 1984. “Introduction.” In Sam Shepard. Fool for Love and Other Plays, 1-15. Toronto, New York, London, Sydney and Auckland: Bantam Books.
- There are currently no refbacks.
Atlantis. Journal of the Spanish Association for Anglo-American Studies
ISSN: 0210-6124 | e-ISSN: 1989-6840. © Atlantis/Aedean 2013.
Contact | Privacy Statement | Copyright notice | Journal Help| Site Map