Monday, October 13, 2008

Sam Shepard's "Fool for Love" Explores Masculinity

The Kenyon Collegian reviews a staging of Sam Shepard's classic play, "Fool for Love." This is another example of the ways drama can explore important issue of masculinity. This is another classic American play that ranks among my favorites.

"Fool" explores masculinity

Noah Heinrich

Every good play asks questions; Sam Shepard's gritty drama "Fool For Love" asks the most important ones: What is love? What does it mean to be a man? Can anybody escape his or her destiny? These are the questions the protagonists of the play, Eddie and May, are asking themselves as they attempt to live life despite their stormy and complex love affairs and their own flaws.

Eddie is a dreamer, a modern-day cowboy and a womanizer. May is strong willed, but emotionally vulnerable. The plot of "Fool For Love" follows an especially turbulent day in the lives of these young lovers.

For their senior theses, Jessica Radowitz, Matthew Peck and Hannah Fenlon decided to collaboratively stage a production of "Fool For Love," with Radowitz as director and Peck and Fenlon cast as Eddie and May respectively. Although Radowitz is the director, or the "fearless leader" as Peck described her, she collaborated with Peck and Fenlon on most decisions on acting and staging.

The choice of "Fool for Love" was also a group effort, as all three seniors helped to decide which play to produce.

"Something about Shepard's writing stood out to us," Radowitz said. "["Fool For Love"] is really nice for a thesis."

Both Radowitz and Peck found themselves faced with challenges regarding the character of Eddie, the male lead. Radowitz described directing a play about "what it means to be a male hero" as "a good challenge for me, as a female."

Peck, who portrays Eddie, found stepping into the role to be "very difficult." I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago," Peck said. "I had no exposure to the West. [Eddie] is a rodeo hand, a 'Marlboro man,' which is far away from what I am."

"Fool For Love" is a difficult sort of play, both for directors and actors. There are only four characters, and the clash of personalities between two of them is the crux of the story. Only an experienced and talented group of people can pull off such a play succesfully. Despite the difficulty, Radowitz and Peck are confident that they will succeed.

"Everyday, I learn something new," Radowitz said when asked if she has encountered any large challenges. "There are no bumps that have slowed the process."

Peck is also confident in the team's ability, though he admits that he is a bit nervous.

"There's another level of nerves when you're doing a thesis," Peck said. "It's a culmination of all of your experience."

Despite a 1985 movie adaptation, "Fool for Love" is not a household name. All of the action takes place in a small motel somewhere out west, and with a cast of four, the characterization and scripting is key.

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