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Monroe Theatre Guild Presents "True West"


March 21, 2019

True West, a play written by the late Sam Shepard and directed by Monroe Theatre Guild Director Nick Hartwig, is a hard hitting, emotionally charged dark comedy. Sam Shepard, best known for his acting career, was also a skilled, award winning playwright. Shepard’s plays often tell the story of families in conflict. Critics consider True West to be Shepard’s signature piece.

True Westis the story of two estranged brothers whose paths cross again at their mother’s home in the California desert. Austin is house sitting for his mother while she is on vacation in Alaska and working on a screenplay that has caught the interest of a Hollywood producer. Lee, his older brother, a clear loser and petty thief, drops in unexpectedly and quickly bullies his way into staying at the house. When the Hollywood producer visits Austin to talk about promoting his screenplay, Lee pushes his way into the situation and is soon pitching his own idea for a trashy western to the producer. Ultimately Lee steals Austin’s big break and the sparks fly.

Four local actors portray the characters in this two-act play. Luke Smetters, Monroe, plays Lee. Smetters is a well-known face at MTG and in other community theatres in the area. Jamie Ertmer, Apple River, IL plays Austin and is making his MTG acting debut. Ertmer has been in several community theatre productions in Freeport. Monroe’s Phil Rath is also a familiar face at MTG, he plays Saul Kimmer the movie producer. Jennie Lembach, Monroe, is quickly becoming a popular addition to the MTG family, she portrays the mother.

Monroe Theatre Guild will present five performances of True West, March 22, 23, 29 and 30, at 7:00 p.m., and March 31, at 2:00 p.m., at the MTG theatre. An Opening Night Reception will be held at 6:30 p.m., Friday, March 22, in the MTG lobby. An exciting new special feature will follow the March 30th performance, with a question and answer session with the actors and director. This new feature will allow audience members to get to know the actors and talk about what it takes to be part of such an emotionally charged production.

This play is recommended for adult audiences due to strong language. Tickets are on sale now on the MTG website at and at the Monroe Arts Center box office Tuesdays – Saturdays, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Ticket information is also available by calling (608) 325-1111.


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