The God of Hell: A Play by Sam Shepard
By Sam Shepard
Pulitzer Prize winner Sam Shepard’s most recent play is an uproarious, brilliantly provocative farce that brings the presents of a quintessentially American playwright to endure at the present American dilemma.
Frank and Emma are a quiet, decent couple who elevate cows on their Wisconsin farm. quickly when they conform to post Frank’s outdated pal Haynes, who's at the lam from a mystery executive venture concerning plutonium, they’re visited through Welch, an unctuous executive bureaucrat from hell. His competitive patriotism places Frank, Emma, and Haynes at the protecting, remodeling a heartland American loved ones right into a scene of torture and selling a radioactive model of conformity with a dangerously lengthy part lifestyles.
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Indeed, what we learn from the painting of artists in whose work Beckett had a long-standing interest, as with Caravaggio or Arikha, is rarely to do with particular images and more to do with how the visual resources of the stage – depth and foreground, lighting and darkness, movement and stillness, colour and gesture – compose the larger effect of the play. So much is signalled by the title of the ‘dramaticule’ Come and Go, a work in which, with narrative and back story reduced to an absolute minimum, Beckett achieves some of the most painterly stage work in his oeuvre.
Here, all but the upper right-hand quadrant of the drawing is dominated by Beckett’s dark shape, relieved only by the arm of the chair that forms a diagonal with the chair back where it fades into the white triangle of the upper-right corner. That diagonal is crossed by the intersecting dark diagonal of the writer’s body as he relaxes into the chair, forming roughly a right-angled triangle with the black column of the wall or door frame to the left. The dark patches and clots of ink out of which his suit is composed seem to generate the sure and rapid brushstrokes that sketch in his facial features and wiry hair as if those emerged out of the dry remnants of unused ink.
The term, indeed, echoes Arikha’s term ‘high velocity’ which he uses in his essay ‘On Drawing from Observation’. Beckett’s replacement of the phrase ‘recovered need’ with ‘Siege laid again to the impregnable without’ certainly refers to the repetitive process whereby Arikha’s drawing continually interrogates what is seen, striving to render the visible on paper, but it has further implications. It refers, moreover, not only to Arikha’s personal trajectory from his initial commitment to abstract painting back to the draughtsmanship that marked his very early work, but also to his return over a terrain Beckett had already explored and departed from much earlier in his critical reflections on painting: that of the Italian Renaissance and its legacy.