TRUE DYLAN by Sam Shepard

Rolling the Stone…

With this month’s DARK MONDAY @ MERLIN project, we celebrate the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature recipient Bob Dylan – whose 80th birthday is on May 24.

 TRUE DYLAN by Sam Shepard – featuring Merhdad Afzali and Bardia Khajenoori – is a one-act play based on an actual, somewhat “dramatized” interview that the playwright conducted with his friend and fellow musician Bob Dylan for Esquire Magazine in 1987.  It focuses mainly on Dylan’s early days in New York, his meeting with Woody Guthrie, what constitutes ‘truth’, the greatness of James Dean, his musical influences and his motorcycle crash.

Interviews with Bob Dylan generally have a tendency to drift into the absurd with the journalists exasperated and enervated beyond reason. Although Sam Shepard is a trusted friend and sometime song collaborator, he too finds himself in a somewhat surreal situation not dissimilar to the meandering dialogues of Estragon and Vladimir in Samuel Beckett’s WAITING FOR GODOT.

Even before his career began, Dylan has been very secretive about the details of his private life and has exerted great effort into making himself Rock Music’s greatest enigma. Beginning with actually rechristening himself and inventing the scruffy hobo, vagabond persona of a troubled youth who spent his formative years running away from home, in orphanages, traveling with carnivals and riding the rails all over the American Western and Southern states, while assimilating blues, country and folk music on the road before eventually arriving in New York City.

Bob Dylan invented himself from scratch and is an invention of his own fertile imagination; upon arrival in Greenwich Village, he seized every opportunity to embroider his personal mystique, exhibiting a rare gift for self-mythology as he spun out a yarn of tall tales about his family and background.

The conversation that resulted in the text of TRUE DYLAN is extraordinarily revealing because Sam Shepard was not merely a muckraking reporter; he had special access and insight into Bob Dylan’s personality, asking just the right questions and thus making this Esquire Magazine interview more informative than usual but he never the less states this about Dylan – “Myth is a powerful medium because it talks to the emotions and not to the head. It moves us into an area of mystery.” “Some myths are poisonous to believe in, but others have the capacity for changing something inside us, even if it’s only for a minute or two. Dylan creates a mythic atmosphere out of the land around us. The land we walk on every day and never see until someone shows it to us.”

DARK MONDAY @ MERLIN is a FREE Online Event sponsored by the Staatministerin für Kultur und Medien in cooperation with MERLIN – Kulturzentrum and DAZ – Deutsch Amerikanisches Zentrum.

To watch the performance please go to the MERLIN Youtube channel –

The presentation will be broadcast on Monday, April 12 at 20:00 hrs and the link will remain accessible.

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