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Silent Tongue

Sam Shepard

Talbot Roe

Carolyn Pfeiffer

Academy Awards

Awbonnie Roe

Prescott Roe

Eamon McCree

States of Shock

Far North

The Right Stuff

John Malkovich

Jessica Lange

Patricia Arquette

States of Shock, Far North, Silent Tongue
Rio's Attic: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Dearly Missed River Phoenix
American EnglishEn Français

States of Shock
Far North
Silent Tongue

by Sam Shepard.
First published in 1993.

ISBN 0-679-74218-2 (Paperback, 202 Pages)

To date, Sam Shepard has written more than forty plays for both stage and screen. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979. Also an actor, Shepard received an Oscar nomination in 1984 for his performance in the movie The Right Stuff. The category was in fact Best Supporting Actor - the same award that River would be nominated for five years later.

Section one of this book is the script for States of Shock: A Vaudeville Nightmare, a stage play first performed at The American Place Theatre, New York in 1991. John Malkovich was amongst the original cast of the production playing the character of the Colonel.

Shepard wrote and directed the movie Far North in 1988. It starred Jessica Lange, Patricia Arquette and was produced by Carolyn Pfeiffer who worked closely with River in 1992 on the set of another of Shepard's movies - Silent Tongue.

The script from Silent Tongue is reproduced for the third and final section of this book.

PRESCOTT finds a seat on a barrel but seems stiff and awkward, painfully formal. They stare at each other a moment with PRESCOTT finding it difficult to speak. Pause.

EAMON: How's the daughter, then? Did she serve yer backward son well?

PRESCOTT: She's.... She's passed.

Pause. EAMON stares at him with no sign of remorse but nevertheless surprised at the news. PRESCOTT is seized with grief but tries to control it.

EAMON: Well - A deal's a deal after all. She was healthy when we made the swap. Far healthier than yer son, by all accounts. Can't very well return the horses now, anyway. It's been a year or more. Poor excuse for horseflesh in the first place.

PRESCOTT: I don't want the horses. It's not yer fault she died. It happened in childbirth. And the child went with her.

EAMON: I see. Well, there's no way to account for the trauma of birth, is there, now. That's one I've never got over, myself.

Pause. PRESCOTT unable to speak.

PRESCOTT: It's my son. He's taken a terrible grief over her. He's fallen even deeper inside himself. Weeks now. He refuses to eat, speak. He just.... He just stands over her corpse like a lost soul. Just watching. Speaking tongues. Guarding. As though she were still in the world.

"If it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage," advises a well-known theatrical adage. In the pages of this book, the author documents every word, thought and motivation to be used in his forthcoming movie Silent Tongue. Perhaps the studying of this book can be likened to reading a recipe from a large kitchen cookbook. One learns in the finest of detail, the ingredients that go to make up the finished product. Listed sequentially are the actions and methods needed, the steps to be taken to produce the final result. Yet, everyone knows it is not possible to taste the finished product by reading from the page of a cookbook. It takes a master-chef to take what is written on the page and convert it into something real, turning it into something wonderful, something of substance.

That we now live in a time of famine is brought home to anyone who reads this book. There will be no more stunning performances, no more movies to enjoy. Never again will we see a young man step in front of a camera and, in his unmatched and unique way, project emotions from the depths of his soul for his audience to feast upon.


CAMERA PANS OFF FIRE TO CLOSE ON THE GHOST. TALBOT is seen sitting across from her with the glow from the bonfire illuminating his face. He clutches the shotgun.

GHOST: You turn your back on me? You think you can refuse me?

TALBOT: I remember you.

GHOST: I was sold like a slave! And now you want to keep me a slave in death! I died giving birth to your child! A child I never wanted!

TALBOT breaks down. He begins to weep openly.

TALBOT: I hold - on to you.

GHOST: Did you think I would love you for that?

TALBOT: Take me with you.

GHOST: You have no right to ask me that! You belong in this world, not mine.

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