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Brotherly Love, Or Lack Thereof, Is At The Root of “True West” Production

The staging of Sam Shepard’s dark comedy unites talent from around the North Bay.

One of the stars is from Novato, the other from Rohnert Park. The director is from San Anselmo. The play will be staged in San Rafael.  Such is the way of local theater, bringing together talent from neighboring communities.

Of more importance, of course, is staging something interesting. In this case, it’s Sam Shepard’s “True West,” which depicts the relationship of two brothers with opposite takes on life.

“We selected ‘True West’ because the director, Terry McGovern (of San Anselmo) is passionate about it,” explained Novato’s Ken Bacon one of the stars. “He loves the show, and directed it once in SF about 10 years ago. After we discussed it and I read the play, his obvious enthusiasm and the script convinced me this would be a great show to do. I have a brother, and many of the issues brought to life in the play, while more extreme in the show, are issues that most brothers confront.”

Depicting Bacon’s brother is David Crone of Rohnert Park.

Bacon only has time for about one play a year. He, his wife and partner operate a veterinary practice that takes up most of their time. So choosing a project is important.

“My role, Austin, strikes many cords for me, Bacon said. “I was much like him growing up, even though my brother was not like Lee. Sibling rivalry,  jealousy, competition, birth order, family dysfunction, all rear their ugly heads with many brothers. I have never read another play that highlights these issues as well as ‘True West.’”

In the play, two adult brothers, opposite in philosophy and personality, take their rivalry to another level. Sharp barbs and rapid-fire dialog bring this story to its ultimate showdown when Austin and Lee come together after years of estrangement and reveal their true nature and brotherhood amid typewriters and toasters.

“Like every role, you have two lists: How is this character like me, and how is this character not like me? This is a valuable tool I learned from Terry McGovern,” Bacon said. “What often challenges most, and many times makes the role most fun, are the ‘not like me’ characteristics. It can be tempting to play a role in a way that makes the audience like the character. In a play like this, that is a trap to be avoided at all costs.”

Marin Actors’ Workshop will present “True West” starting April 26 at Little Theatre, St. Vincent’s School for Boys, One St. Vincent Dr., San Rafael, with a preview the night before at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 25.

It runs from April 26 through May 12, 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Tickets cost $12 for youth, $22 for seniors and students and $25 for general admission. A preview will take place April 25 for $15. To order tickets call 448-6152 or visit MarinOnstage.org.

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