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Colby-Sawyer College Theater Club Presents 'True West,' a Sam Shepard Play About Two Estranged Brothers

NEW LONDON, N.H. - Colby-Sawyer College will stage “True West,” a play by Sam Shepard about estranged adult brothers exploring their history and rivalry when they find themselves together again in the family home.

Performances of “True West,” a production of the college's student theater group Colby-Sawyer Players, will run Friday, March 26, and Saturday, March 27, at 8 p.m. at Sawyer Center Theatre. Admission is free, though donations are appreciated. The public is invited and welcome to attend.

The play, a traditional narrative, digs into the myths of American life and the sort of sibling animosity that dates back to Cain and Abel. Austin is the good brother and a married Hollywood screenwriter who is house-sitting for his vacationing mother in an attempt to find some privacy and writing space. His older brother, Lee, an alcoholic thief, shows up and the two see each other for the first time in years. When Lee meets movie producer Saul and diverts his attention from Austin's script to his own, the brothers' identities start to blur.

Mark Busby, in Updating the Literary West, describes Austin and Lee as representing “two sides of the American present: one sophisticated, cultured, ambitious and successful; the other alienated and outcast, raw, wild, violent … The two characters exchange places and reveal that each is the double of the other. Shepard's plays emphasize that, despite the American belief in starting anew, the past is never over but continues to intrude into the present.”

The Colby-Sawyer Players are comprised of 25 students and advised by the Fine and Performing Arts Department's technical director, Mike Lovell, and Bonnie Lewis, an actor and the laboratory manager in the Natural Sciences Department. Directed by junior Andrew Francis, “True West” features admissions counselor Mike Clark as Lee (the only non-student member of the cast and crew);Charles Moak as Austin; Devin Wilkie as Saul and Meghan Hardiman as Mother. Backstage, Christine Wertz and Megan Ruggiero are production managers while Katherine Kelly is the set designer and in charge of promotion. Annalisa Giglio and Rose Poney are in charge of costumes; Kimberly Arena and Suzanna Brown are prop masters.

Megan Ruggiero, a senior English major from Merrimack, N.H., and president of the Players, says that “True West” was an appealing choice for a student production because of its small cast and compelling story. “The script is also brilliantly written, and the play is ingeniously crafted,” she says. “The plot is serious but humor can creep in easily with spot-on directing and careful acting. The play is an absolute classic and will be a thrill to watch. The Players are putting their stamp on this play with copious amounts of collaboration and coordination. It's incredibly rewarding to see how everyone comes together to allow the final product to run so smoothly.”

“True West” is the Players' second production and was selected for production after Francis proposed the piece and offered to direct. Last year, the group put on “Parlor Games,” directed by Charles Moak. The Players are active throughout the academic year, holding multiple improv nights, volunteering on the Haunted Walk with the town of New London, and in January, they performed their first installment of the 48-Hour Plays, an event they plan to hold again next year.

To learn about other upcoming events at Colby-Sawyer College visit

Colby-Sawyer, founded in 1837, is a comprehensive liberal arts and sciences college located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire. Students learn in small classes through a select array of programs that integrate the liberal arts and sciences with professional experience.

Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main Street, New London, N.H. 03257 (603) 526-3000