• Buried Child (1978) is the second of Shepard’s ‘‘family trilogy.’’ It examines many of the same themes as does Curse of the Starving Class. In 1978, the play won the Pulitzer Prize for the best American play of the year. The trilogy ends with True West, the story of two brothers.
• Many of the plays of the German playwright Bertolt Brecht use techniques of pastiche and the undermining of naturalism to achieve an effect on the viewer. Brecht’s theories about drama and how drama can have a social impact were very influential among American playwrights (Shepard included) in the 1960s. Some of Brecht’s bestknown plays include The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Mother Courage and Her Children, Galileo, The Threepenny Opera, and The Good Woman of Szechwan.
• Mike Davis’s City of Quartz (1990) is an extremely detailed and provocative study of the history of Los Angeles. His argument is that every aspect of L.A.—from the organization of the police department to the zoning laws to the design of park benches—was designed with the intention of isolating the wealthy from the large masses of poor and minority people.
• The classic story of poor rural people moving to California is John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (1939). The Joad family, impoverished farmers from Oklahoma, pack up their truck and move to find work in California, only to discover that the earthly paradise is not what they imagined.
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