The Sam Shepard collection consists of manuscripts, notebooks, printed material, correspondence, photographs, and other items.
Manuscripts by Shepard in the collection include his plays and screenplays, some in multiple drafts. Titles include Forensic and the Navigators (1968); Back Bog Beast Bait (1969); Operation Sidewinder (1969); Shaved Splits (1971); The Slow Death of Eamon Ree (1973); The Tooth of Crime (1974); California Heart Attack (1974); The Last American Gas Station (1974); Geography of a Horse Dreamer (1974); Man Fly (1975); Action (1975); Angel City (1976); Curse of the Starving Class (1976); Deep Water (1976); Shell Shock (1976); Suicide in B flat (1976); Freeway Life, 1917 (1977); Seduced (1977); Buried Child (1977); Koko (1977); 7th Son (1977); Cruising Paradise (1995); The Late Henry Moss (2000); Don’t Come Knocking (2002), including two items of correspondence with director Wim Wenders; Great Dream of Heaven (2002); Far North, including a note to Shepard from Marlon Brando; Mad Dog Blues ; Hawk Moon ; and several others. Also present are Shepard’s original journals, a typed final draft, and proofs of his Rolling Thunder Logbook (Viking Press, 1977). Other manuscripts include poetry, articles, and short prose pieces, dating primarily from the 1970s, an interview by Shepard of Johnny Dark (1999), and four short pieces written by Shepard when he was a child.
Manuscripts by others in the collection primarily consist of screenplays for films Shepard either acted in or co-wrote. Titles include Days of Heaven; Zabriskie Point; Raggedy Man; All the Pretty Horses; See You In My Dreams; Snow Falling on Cedars; Black Hawk Down; Resurrection ; and others. Also present are three pieces by Eugenia Fischer; a script and a poem by Michael McClure; Sam Shepard Improvises, a doctoral dissertation by Marshall Soules; and several translations of Shepard’s plays into various languages.
Notebooks in the collection include notes and drafts regarding various projects, including the plays and films Inacoma, Action, Killer’s Head, Angel City, Days of Heaven, Unseen Hand, Savage/Love, The Food Killer, Resurrection, Garbonzo, Holy Ghostly, Back Bog Beast Bait, Mary Todd Play (1995), Eye To Eye/Sangre de Cristo, and Great Dream of Heaven (1996-1997), in addition to notebooks containing short dramatic pieces, song lyrics, poems, stories, and notes. Also present are two journals of notes from 1972 and 1974, as well as several notebooks dated 1978-1979.
Printed material in the collection includes several articles written by Shepard in 1974 and 1977, as well as issues of various magazines, including The New Yorker, American Theatre, and Cowboys and Indians . Also included are numerous reviews and publicity items, dating from 1965 to 1992. Several programs are also present from productions of Shepard’s plays by various theater companies in the U.S. and abroad, as well as posters advertising Shepard’s plays.
Correspondence in the collection consists of professional and personal letters. Professional correspondence in the collection dates from 1971 to 1981 and 1997 to 2002, and includes numerous letters from Shepard’s agent, Lois Berman. Personal correspondence (including fan mail) dates from 1976 to 1981 and 1998 to 2002; these items include several letters from Johnny Dark. Other notable correspondents include Joseph Chaikin, Terrence Malick, Joseph Papp, Jon Voigt, Tennesee Williams, Robert Brustein, Edward Albee, Howard Norman, Gary Busey, Werner Herzog, Michael Roloff, Patti Smith, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
Photographs in the collection primarily consist of black and white prints. Images of Shepard include him as a young man; with the Open Theater Group; with the Bishop’s Company; with Bob Dylan on the Rolling Thunder Revue tour; with the Holy Modal Rounders; with Patti Smith in Cowboy Mouth ; stills from his appearance in the film The Right Stuff ; and others. Additional photos include a Yale production of Geography of a Horse Dreamer (1973); an AHA Theatre Slovenian production of True West (1996), as well as other Czech and Polish productions of Shepard’s plays; images of Patti Smith alone; images of O-Lan Shepard; and others.Other material in the collection includes financial material (1970-1979); several sketchbooks by Shepard; a short journal kept by Patti Smith; membership certificates; a family genealogy chart; and Shepard’s Obie Awards for Action (1974-1975).