ArtsEventsNews ReleasesSchool of Fine & Performing Arts

Dark Secrets of Family Life Emerge in the production of "Buried Child" to be performed at SUNY New Paltz

The Department of Theatre Arts at the State University of New York at New Paltz will perform Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Buried Child.” This powerful and provocative play’s examination of the American dream opens Thursday, Feb. 27 with performances running through March 9 in Parker Theatre located on the New Paltz campus. Frank Trezza, an associate professor in the theatre arts program, directs the production.

The three-act play takes a macabre look at one American Midwestern violently dysfunctional family with a very dark secret. When Vince brings his girlfriend, Shelly, home to meet his family, she is at first charmed by the “normal” looking farm house which she compares to a “Norman Rockwell cover or something.” This occurs before she actually meets his bizarre family – Vince’s ranting, alcoholic grandparents and their two sons: one a hulking semi-fool, and the other who has lost one leg to a chain saw. Gradually, the family’s shadowy secret and curse begins to unravel.

Shepard is a widely influential and highly decorated American playwright who has won 11 Obie awards, a Tony, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. “It’s important for our students to know such an important playwright and to understand the power of his plays,” said Jack Wade, chair of the theatre arts program at SUNY New Paltz and producer of the show. “His overall body of work is extremely significant and this play in particular has an important place in American drama.”

“It’s surprising that we have never done a play by Shepard before now,” said Trezza. Trezza noted that, “While the play was written in the 1970s, it is not fixed in that period. The fragmentation of the American family and the disillusionment with American ideals, myths, and dreams are themes that are still relevant and immediate today.” He went on to say that, “The mythic dimension of the play is critical to the work, so to talk about the play as being set in the 1970s actually undercuts the potential of the play. It is here and now.”

On Thursday, Feb. 27, Sara Lyons ’15 (theatre arts/history) will give a presentation about the world of “Buried Child.” The pre-show talk begins at 6:30 p.m. in Parker Theatre. Additionally, a post-show talk-back, with some of the cast, crew and creative staff of the production, will be held on Friday, Feb. 28 in the theatre after the evening performance. Both events are free and open to the public.

Performances of “Buried Child” will be held on Feb. 27-28, March 1 and March 6- 8, at 8 p.m., and March 2 and 9, at 2 p.m., in Parker Theatre. Reserved ticket prices for all performances are $18, general admission, $16 seniors, SUNY faculty/staff, and non-New Paltz students, and $10 for SUNY New Paltz students. Tickets are available now by calling 845-257-3880 or by visiting