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Masquers present Sam Shepard’s <i>True West</i>
Masquers rehearse <i>True West</i>

Talk about sibling rivalry. True West is a play written by Sam Shepard about two brothers who are definitely at odds with each other. These two have had fraternal differences their entire lives and sibling rivalry has been a way of life for them..

One of the brothers, Austin, has grown up to be a successful Hollywood screenwriter, while the other, Lee, is a hobo and a thief. Austin is hoping to land a lucrative deal with a Hollywood producer, but instead of buying Austin’s project, the producer instead wants to hire him to write Lee’s “true Western.” Ouch!

The play is being presented by the Armstrong Atlantic State University Masquers Nov. 1-4 and is being directed by Dr. Peter Mellen. “Austin isn’t particularly thrilled about this,” he says.

The two begin fighting, and things eventually come to a head. “The play is about family members trying to make connections,” Mellen says.

There are four AASU students in the cast. Brandon Morris is Austin, Alfred Pierce is Lee, Alec Caldass is Saul Kimmer the movie producer and Shallon plays Mom.

“We never find out anyone’s last names,” Mellen says. “There is another character who never appears but who is essential to the play. That is Dad, who has disappeared.

“Apparently he abandoned the family at some point,” Mellen says. “Both sons have had contact with him. He’s an alcoholic who lives in the desert, although it’s a different one from the one where Lee hangs out.”

The play is both a comedy and a drama. “There are many scenes that are hilarious and some are hopefully not funny at all,” Mellen says.

It should be noted that the play will be presented in Jenkins Theater, home of the Masquers. The theater has been slated for total renovation, and in the meantime, the Masquers will perform at the Masquer’s Chinese Theater in Armstrong Center.

However, renovations needed at the Chinese Theater are taking longer than expected, Mellen says. “We’re not even supposed to be in Jenkins,” he says. “Slowly but surely, we’re winding down to the day we can move into the Chinese Theater.

“We should have the Chinese Theater up and running for the spring semester, which starts in January,” Mellen says. “True West will be the last production in Jenkins for a while.”

However, preparation for the move had already begun, causing a few problems. “Do we even have everything we need?” Mellen asks. “There’s been a lot of packing and tossing.”

As a director, Mellen says he is “trying to catch the rhythm Shepard built into this show.”

“I’m making sure it stays fresh,” he says.

Audiences will enjoy True West, Mellen says. “This play is completely accessible,” he says. “It’s been a delight working with the cast. These folks have been really, really good. It’s really nice when you have people who are focused on doing the job right."

The Armstrong Atlantic State University Masquers will present True West Nov. 1, 2 and 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 4 at 3 p.m. in AASU Jenkins Theater. General admission tickets are $8, while tickets for seniors, military, AASU alumni and non-AASU students are $7. Call 927-5381 weekdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.