Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

This So-Called Disaster: Sam Shepard Directs the Late Henry Moss


I love the theater, and movies about backstage at the theater. This is a real backstage movie, in that it follows the rehearsals and re-writes of a play by Shepard called The Late Henry Moss. The cast includes Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Woody Harrelson, Cheech Marin, and James Gammon. The play is autobiographical, in a metaphoric way, and concerns Shepard’s relationship with his alcoholic father. That’s pretty much it. We don’t see the whole play but fragments of it as they work out the kinks. It’s a fascinating process to watch. Shepard says that a play is never really a play until the actors get their hands on it and make their contributions, and he’s right. And Penn says that writing is much harder than acting. I don’t know about that, but it’s big of him to say it. Recommended.