The Wittliff Collections at Texas State opened a new literary exhibition last week to showcase the playwright and actor Sam Shepard, who began donating to the Wittliff Collections in 1992.
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“The Writer’s Road: Selections from the Sam Shepard Papers,” is the first exhibition drawn exclusively from the Wittliff’s major archive of Shepard, whose materials have recently inspired a documentary film and new Wittliff series book, both of which will be celebrated with events this fall.
Admission to the exhibition is free. The Wittliff Collections are located on the seventh floor of the Alkek Library at Texas State. Exhibition hours, directions, parking details, and more information about visiting the Wittliff is online at www.thewittliffcollections.txstate.edu.
The Writer’s Road uses journals, correspondence, photographs, interviews, manuscripts, and published works to map the trajectory of Shepard’s career from his days as a one-act off-Broadway playwright to his maturation into master of the complex family drama with plays like Curse of the Starving Class, Buried Child, and True West. Shepard reveals his states of mind in handwritten notes and letters along the way, from his spiritual sojourns in England in the early 1970s to his unexpected fame as a major Hollywood star in the 1980s. Other materials show the roles of important people in Shepard’s life, including actress O-Lan Jones, Bob Dylan, and Jessica Lange.
The exhibit includes artifacts from the Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark Collection, recently acquired by the Wittliff. The holding contains nearly 300 letters exchanged through more than four decades between Shepard and his long-time close friend, as well as hundreds of candid photographs and other materials that open a larger window onto Shepard’s personal life.
The Wittliff’s Shepard/Dark Collection already has already inspired an award-winning documentary film, as well as the newest book in the Wittliff’s Southwestern Writers Collection Series: Two Prospectors: The Letters of Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark. Edited by Chad Hammett of Texas State’s Department of English, Two Prospectors will be published in October 2013 by the University of Texas Press. A book launch will be held at the Wittliff Collections in November.
Filmmaker Treva Wurmfeld documented the two men’s reflections as they sifted through their years of correspondence in preparation for turning the materials over to the Wittliff for the book. Coproduced by Joanne Woodward, Wurmfeld’s film Shepard and Dark — which screened at Cannes last month — continues to gather accolades as it appears on select screens across Canada and the U.S. The Wittliff will host a special screening of Shepard and Dark with Treva Wurmfield in October.
The Writer’s Road was co-curated by Chad Hammett of Texas State’s English department and Steve Davis of the Wittliff Collections. The exhibition runs through February 14, 2014.