Cowboys as theatrical props and dramatic devices : Sam Shepard ’s Cowboys #2 and Geography of a horse dreamer

Part of : Γράμμα : περιοδικό θεωρίας και κριτικής ; Vol.2, No.1, 1994, pages 7-19

The mythic figures that inhabit the stage in most of Sam Shepard’s plays are carefully reconstructed from elements, features and traits assorted from deconstructed and dismantled pop-culture icons. In the development of the plays, these intertextual mythic figures undergo a process of an elaborate demystification, of deconstruction. The playwright follows the route from deconstruction to reconstruction and finally to re-deconstruction, being motivated quite differently in each play. Shepard’s employment of the mythic image of the cowboy as a theatrical mask and a dramatic device is an intriguing instance of this intertextual mythopoesis. In Cowboys # 2 , the cowboy image becomes an articulate and useful prop in Shepard’s effort to look into the issue of theatricality, to examine the very nature of the theatrical event. In Geography of a Horse Dreamer, Shepard employs the cowboy image as a deus-ex-machina. In this play, he considers the condition of the artist whose vision and integrity are threatened by commercial concerns. By undermining the deus-ex-machina figures he stresses that a non-personal and miraculous release from such forces is practically an impossibility.
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