Eight Actors Putting in the Work to Present Sam Shepard’s “A Lie of the Mind”

Kansas City Actor’s Theatre hopes to honor the legacy left by great American playwright Sam Shepard with the second production of their 13th Season, “A Lie of the Mind.” Shepard, who passed at the age of 73 this past July, is one of the most-honored playwrights of this generation, whose recognitions include several awards for “A Lie of the Mind” and a Pulitzer for his magnum opus, “Buried Child.” With an expansive body of work and plays dense with meaning and feeling, it is no wonder the eight actors in “A Lie of the Mind” have to do extra work to prepare.

“A Lie of the Mind” features two families whose lives are forced together with the marriage and subsequent spousal abuse of their respective children. Shepard explores the dysfunctional family dynamic and how it relates to the nature of love by starting with the individual thoughts of one man, and growing to encapsulate the feelings of the entire family in this three-act drama set in the snowy Montana countryside. This production relies on the performances of its eight powerhouse actors who must all carry the emotional weight with equal share. Naturally, with a sense of understanding being such a crucial part of Shepard’s work, there is some extra homework required.

“When you perform a Shepard work, there is a certain level of specialness, or reverence,” says Hillary Clemens, who plays Sally, the sister of the male lead. “We are kind of lucky; in remembrance there has been a lot of republishing of essays and stories written by Shepard. It has allowed us to dig even deeper into the research.”

Director Cinnamon Schultz took a different approach when she began to dig deeper into this play, “Leading up to rehearsal I read the play over 50 times. I began to look for questions that I thought the actors would have, right from the start of rehearsal.”

Many of the actors embraced the inherent difficulty of performing a Shepard piece. “Regardless of the current Shepard situation, you have to approach his work with an open mind,” says Forrest Attaway, who plays Mike, the brother of the female lead. “His work requires more actor work; it takes an extra amount of homework to present his plays honestly.” This extra work of the actors, aided by a director to propel them to a complete sense of truth, promises to create an engrossing representation of lower-class society in the American Midwest in this hard-hitting drama.

Buy tickets to see the powerful performances of Forrest Attaway, Hillary Clemens, Merle Moores, Gary Neal Johnson, Brian Paulette, Jan Rogge, Christina Schafer, and Jake Walker under the direction of Cinnamon Schultz in Sam Shepard’s A Lie of the Mind. Starting September 13th and running through October 1st at the H&R Block City Stage in Union Station. Visit www.kcactors.org or call the Central Ticket Office at (816) 235-6222 for more information and tickets.

–Malcolm Gibbs

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