By Sanjit De Silva
Austin in True West and People’s Light New Play Frontiers Playwright
I've always had a profound fascination with True West and Sam Shepard.
I first encountered the play in college when I was assigned a scene from it to play Austin. But it wasn’t until I saw the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman play the role on Broadway that I really started to understand the play and all it had to offer. So when Zak Berkman asked me in 2019 about a bucket list play I’d like to do, I immediately said I’d love to do True West with an AAPI cast.
Since the 1800s, Asian Americans have been a part of the very foundations of the building of the American West. And I thought it would be poignant to see this play that is set in California, performed with those bodies, our bodies; to see what it would do to the play and what the play would do to us. I hoped it would give AAPI actors who’ve never been given the chance to do True West the opportunity to say: I, too, am part of this story. Of course, we want to give audiences the experience of a production that illuminates the thrilling chaos that Sam Shepard conjures up between these two brothers, who are ultimately a metaphor for the many selves we hold within us as we struggle to answer that eternal question: WHO AM I?