The Curse of the Starving Class
By Sam Shepard
Over the course of the season, our assistant directors and student dramaturgs will be compiling dramaturgical resources relating to each production as it develops. Below are some links to websites which relate to the history of the play, the biography of the playwright, and sites that contextualize and, we hope, shed light on the directorial approach to the dramatic material.
We hope you find these resources of interest.
Sam Shepard (b. 1943)
Curse of the Starving Class is the Obie Award-winning play by Sam Shepard. Other biographical information about Shepard can be found here, and here, and here.
Here you can find an interview with Sam Shepard on his life and some of his work (Real Player needed to hear interview).
Shepard has had a varied and successful screen career as an actor, as has his common-law wife/partner, Jessica Lange.
The play was first produced by the Public Theater in New York City in 1978, starring Olympia Dukakis as Ella. The New York Times review of that production can be read here (pdf download).
Curse of the Starving Class was recently revised by Shepard for a 30th anniversary production at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. Here you can find a review of that performance.
Alcoholism is a central concern in this play. It has profound psychological effects on both the alcoholic and his or her family.
The urbanization and development of new land has a large impact on small scale farmers, which is exemplified in Shepard’s work. Here is some information on urban sprawl.
Curse of the Starving Class seems particularly vital and relevant in 2009, especially considering our current economic and housing/mortgage crisis. For an outstanding explanation of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, listen to This American Life's podcast explaining the crisis.
Looking to read more? Here's what's available in the UR's library by Shepard and on Shepard.