Black Box Performing Arts Center will stage unpublished Sam Shepard play




The Black Box Performing Arts Center in Englewood will present three short Sam Shepard plays — “Action,” “The Unseen Hand” and the unpublished “Little Ocean” — from Sept. 21 to Oct. 8.

“Little Ocean” was produced in London in 1974 but never has been staged in the United States until now.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how The Black Box brings ‘Little Ocean’ to life,” said O-Lan Jones, who co-starred in the London production, in a press release. (She and Shepard were married from 1969 to 1984.) “Sam wrote it for me and two of my actress friends when we were living in London in the ’70s. And no one has tried it since.”

Stephen Rea directed the 1974 production and wrote — in an essay published in the English newspaper The Guardian after Shepard died in 2017 — that Shepard wrote “Little Ocean” for “his first wife, O-Lan Jones, an actress called Caroline Hutchinson and Dinah Stabb, who was struggling to get work because she was pregnant. The play was about being pregnant and he wrote it for a need that those women had: firstly a need to work and also to talk about something so essentially feminine. It was never published and when I asked him about it recently he said he didn’t even have a copy; he wrote it for that moment and for those women, no one else, and in a way that’s what he was about. It was a very special time.”

Black Box Performing Arts Center has created a niche for itself, in recent years, as a home to new and under-produced plays by renowned writers such as Eric Bogosian, Paul Schrader, Beth Henley, Craig Lucas, Neil LaBute and John Patrick Shanley. It is currently presenting a series of staged readings devoted to the complete works of Edward Albee; the next one will be “Malcolm,” on Aug. 30.

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