COWBOY MOUTH was written by Sam Shepard and Patti Smith, and directed by Darrell Larson. Here’s the plot according to a review in The Globe: Slim and Cavale fight in a hotel room. She cuddles a dead bird, tells stories of dead French poets and alludes to bad experiences with psychiatrists and podiatrists. He kisses her feet. At some point, Lobster Man, a giant crustacean, shows up (that was my favorite part).

This from Darrell: “We first did it at the Pilot 2 (a theatre in Hollywood that’s no longer there), on a bill with another play of Sam’s, ACTION. It did so well that we moved it out to the Back Alley–and ran it there for months.” It featured Ed Harris, who was great, of course. They had to replace Ed after a month as he had to go off and do his first starring role in a film, KNIGHTRIDERS, directed by John Carpenter.

COWBOY MOUTH started a lifelong association between Ed and Sam Shepard. From an interview with Ed about Shepard in The Guardian: “Sam had just won the Pulitzer Prize for Buried Child and was already a bit of an icon when we first met. I did Cowboy Mouth, which he wrote with Patti Smith, in a little theatre in LA in 1979 and he came around to rehearsals. Then I was in his play True West, and we went for a few beers, played some pool… I think he trusted me.”

Historic note and update: Darrell directed Genet’s THE MAIDS at the space that became the Back Alley before we got there, when it was Bob Ellenstein’s workshop. Before that it was a theatre called Works and Music.

–Laura Zucker