8 Brilliant Quotes From Sam Shepard Plays

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The artistic world lost a giant on July 27, when Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright, Oscar-nominated actor, and author Sam Shepard passed away. The prolific talent, whose influential works include “Buried Child,” “Fool for Love,” and “True West,” left in his wake an astounding 44 plays. Focusing mainly on the dark underbelly of the lives of American families, Shepard’s work contains monologues, dialogues, quotes, and passages of the richest degree, which every actor would be better off knowing. Below, are a very select few. Do yourself a favor and read their sources in their entirety.

“Buried Child”
Shelly: ...He made all of you sound familiar to me. Every one of you. For every name, I had an image. Every time he’d tell me a name, I’d see the person. In fact, each of you was so clear in my mind that I actually believed it was you. I really believed that when I walked through that door that the people who lived here would turn out to be the same people in my imagination. Real people. People with faces. But I don’t recognize any of you. Not one. Not even the slightest resemblance.

“True West”
Austin: When you consider all the writers who never even had a machine. Who would have given an eyeball for a good typewriter. Any typewriter. All the ones who wrote on a matchbook covers. Paper bags. Toilet paper. Who had their writing destroyed by their jailers. Who persisted beyond all odds.

“La Turista”
Kent: The mind ain’t nothing without the old body tagging along to follow things through. And the old body ain’t nothing without a little amoeba.

“Fool for Love”
May: Okay. Look. I don’t understand what you’ve got in your head anymore. I really don’t. I don’t get it. Now, you desperately need me. Now, you can’t live without me. Now, you’ll do anything for me. Why should I believe it this time? It was supposed to have been true every time before. Every other time. Now it’s true again. You’ve been jerking me off like this for fifteen years. Fifteen years I’ve been a yo-yo for you. I’ve never been split. I’ve never been two ways about you. I’ve either loved you or not loved you. And now I just plain don’t love you. Understand? Do you understand me? I don’t love you. I don’t need you. I don’t want you. Do you get that? Now if you can still stay then you’re either crazy or pathetic.

“Cowboy Mouth”
Cavale: I mean I can’t be the saint people dream of now. People want a street angel. They want a saint but with a cowboy mouth. Somebody to get off on when they can’t get off on themselves. I think that’s what Mick Jagger is trying to do, what Bob Dylan seemed to be for a while. A sort of God in our image, ya know? Mick Jagger came close but he got too conscious. For a while he gave me hope. I want it to be perfect, ’cause it’s the only religion I got. In the old days people had a Jesus and those people to embrace. They created a God with all their belief energies and when they didn’t dig. But it’s too hard now. We’re earthy people and the old saints just don’t make it, and the old God is just too far away. He don’t represent our pain no more. His words don’t shake through us no more. Any great motherfucker rock ’n roll song can raise me higher than all of Revelations. We created rock ’n roll from our own image, it’s our child.

“Tooth of Crime”
Crow: “I believe in my mask—the man I made up is me.”

“Curse of the Starving Class”
Weston: Look at my outlook. You don’t envy it, right?
Wesley: No.
Weston: That’s because it’s full of poison. Infected. And you recognize poison, right? You recognize it when you see it?
Wesley: Yes.
Weston: Yes, you do. I can see that you do. My poison scares you.
Wesley: Doesn’t scare me.
Weston: No?
Wesley: No.
Weston: Good. You’re growing up. I never saw my old man’s poison until I was much older than you. Much older. And then you know how I recognized it?
Wesley: How?
Weston: Because I saw myself infected with it. That’s how. I saw me carrying it around. His poison in my body.

“Tongues”
The speaker: When you die it’s the end of your life.