True West at Players by the Sea

An intense, thought-provoking show is up next at Players by the Sea. Sam Shepard’s True West opens March 15, and runs on the theater’s Studio Stage through March 31.

The production is under the direction of Brian Niece, and features a powerhouse cast of four actors, who are focused on presenting genuine and stirring performances of their dark and unsettling characters. Niece and the play’s four actors are making their Players by the Sea debuts in True West.

The late playwright, Sam Shepard, is a favorite for many including Tyler Hammond, who plays the role of Lee. Hammond is drawn to the authenticity of Shepard’s characters and his powerful writing style.

“Sam Shepard’s work really makes you think,” Hammond said. “His writing is incredible with authentic and outlandish characters, and their actions have very interesting consequences. The story is full of action and it feels very realistic.”

The story of True West centers on two brothers, sons of a desert-dwelling alcoholic and a suburban wanderer, who have chosen extremely different lives. Their sibling rivalry violently erupts as they compete for the attention of a Hollywood producer, each trying to sell him a story for a new motion picture. True West examines identity, family and self-doubt through compelling drama and comedy.

“The characters are multi-layered and the play has a family dynamic that everyone can relate to,” said Brooklyn Murphy, who plays the Mom. “After seeing the show, I believe audiences will think about their own relationships with their families.”

Relationships also play a significant role in community theater productions like this one. Tyrone Thornhill, who plays the role of Saul Kimmer, was inspired to audition because True West provided the opportunity to work with Brian Niece. The two had previously performed together in another production.

“Brian’s approach is exceptional – he’s meticulous and passionate,” Thornhill said. “I appreciate the opportunity to work with a director who challenges me as an artist. The quality of his direction will make this production stand out.”

Josh Andrews, who plays the role of Austin, almost didn’t audition for this production. Andrews is in his final semester at Jacksonville University, but he changed his mind because True West is one of his favorite Sam Shepard plays.

“People are really attracted to chaos, and there is plenty of chaos in this show,” said Andrews, who looks forward to sharing True West with audiences. “I hope audiences take note of the relationships that we have built on stage, and deeply feel the effects of those relationships. We look forward to giving them the full experience of Shepard’s work.”

The production team also includes, stage manager Kristin Livingston, scenic designer Bradley Akers, lighting designer Austin Kelm and costume designer Gayle Featheringill.

Performances are offered March 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30, 31. Tickets are $28, $25 seniors, students and military. Thursday night performances are special Student Nights, offering half-price tickets to students with a valid student I.D. For tickets, visit or call 904.249.0289.