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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

November 5, 2004

ISU Theatre productions study family life

ISU Theatre will alternate performances that feature dysfunctional families -- one from the deep south, one from the far west -- to close out its fall season.

Brothers (left) Lee (Jonathan Anderson) and Austin (Jordan Whalen) continue their contentious relationship in the ISU Theatre production of True West. Photo by Patrick Gouran.


True West, written by actor and playwright Sam Shepard in 1980, is a story about two brothers: Lee, an angry con man who lives in the desert and specializes in petty burglary, and his brother, Austin, a responsible, Ivy league-educated screenplay writer with a wife and children who is house-sitting for his mother in Los Angeles. Lee shows up after a five-year absence. Sitting in on Austin's meeting with a movie producer, Lee pitches his own idea for a trashy western, which the producer jumps on and which Lee expects Austin to write. The brothers' reciprocal envy of each other's lives gradually is exposed until essentially a role reversal occurs.

Associate theater professor Patrick Gouran directs the four-person cast of True West. Performances, in Fisher Theater, begin at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 5, 6 and 13, and Dec. 4. A Nov. 7 matinee begins at 2 p.m.

Dearly Departed is a comedic look at members of the Bible Belt's Turpin family, who need to pull together to bury the family patriarch. Amid the family chaos of money problems, marital flings, hangovers and headstone engraving options, they, with the support of neighbors and friends, manage to help each other through their "hour of need."

Assistant professor of theater Robin Stone directs Dearly Departed. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12 and Dec. 3. Sunday matinees (2 p.m.) will be presented Nov. 14 and Dec. 5. All performances are in Fisher Theater.

Tickets for both productions are $13 for adults ($7 for students) and available at the Stephens Auditorium box office.

Widowed Raynelle Turpin (Melanie Snow) considers epitaphs, some not so complimentary, for her husband's tombstone in the ISU Theatre production of Dearly Departed. Photo by Robin Stone.