F&M to Present Shepard Play Exploring Domestic Violence, Family Ideals

  • Students Shannon Ricchetti '16 and Nate Hughes '15, foreground, and Eric Lewis '14, background, perform in an early rehearsal for "A Lie of the Mind." The play runs from Feb. 14-17 in the Green Room Theatre (Photo by Michael Manley '14. Set by John Whiting). 

In his acclaimed work "A Lie of the Mind," playwright Sam Shepard challenges ideas about family, home, love, and memory through the story of two families in the American West who reeling from a brutal act of domestic violence.

The families wrestle with the physical and emotional consequences of the violent act, their misfortunes culminating in further conflict and confrontation, explained Carol C. Davis, an associate professor of theater who directs the production of the play that runs Thursday through Sunday, Feb. 14-17, at Franklin & Marshall College.

"'A Lie of the Mind' revolves around two families struggling to move forward in spite of tragic dysfunction, and explores the coping mechanisms they use to survive," Davis said. "The poetic complexities of Shepard's brilliant work rupture all notions of memory, love, family and home in America."

Davis noted that the F&M production, which will be performed by an all-student cast, will delve into issues of domestic violence and dysfunctional relationships by asking questions such as: "What do such acts do to our sense of self, our identity? What do we cling to, and what do we let go of?"

Although she has taught Shepard for many years in her classes, this is Davis's first time directing a Shepard play. She was drawn to "A Lie" because of the depth of its exploration of the American domestic landscape "from its underbelly," because it showcases the intricacies of Shepard's work, and because it provides a rich opportunity for her student actors.

"Part of what fascinates me about 'A Lie of the Mind' is the way it explores the fluidity of memory and identity in the aftermath of a violent act," Davis said.

A leading figure in avant garde contemporary American theater, Shepard ranks as one of America's most celebrated dramatists. A prolific author and actor, Shepard has written nearly 50 plays and screenplays, and has received numerous honors for his work, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and an Academy Award nomination. The original production of "A Lie" in 1986 won a New York Drama Critics Award for Best Play of the Year.

Sponsored by F&M's Department of Theatre, Dance & Film, performances are slated for 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14 through 16, and for 2 p.m. Feb. 17 in the Green Room Theatre. Tickets are $10 for the general public, $7.50 for F&M staff and faculty, and $5 for students. To purchase tickets, visit the box office at the Roschel Performing Arts Center between noon and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, order online or call 717-358-7193.

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