Curse of the Starving Class

by Sam Shepard

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Topics for Further Study

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• Research the different ways in which plays go from being written to being produced in America. Who writes plays? What different kinds of plays are there? What is community theatre? Regional theatre? What does a ‘‘Broadway play’’ mean? What is the difference between Broadway, off-Broadway, and off-off-Broadway? Who pays for each kind of play to be produced?

• Divide into groups as a class, with each group directing a section of one of the acts of Curse of the Starving Class. Pay attention to the property list provided and find those items. Dress the characters as Shepard specifies. As you watch the play, think about other ways the groups could have directed the scenes and how that would have changed the understanding of the play.

• The history of southern California—the transformation of a hostile land into a farming paradise and then into suburbia—in many ways mirrors the history of the United States as a whole, and Curse of the Starving Class alludes to many of the currents in that history. Research the history of Los Angeles and its suburbs, focusing on how irrigation caused the desert to bloom and on how this farmland attracted migrants from the American South and Southwest and from Mexico.

• Sam Shepard is not only a playwright and screenwriter but he has also become a noted actor. See some of his movies (good candidates include Days of Heaven, Country, and The Right Stuff) and compare the themes of those movies to the themes of Curse of the Starving Class.

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