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 Salisbury Playhouse and National Theatre Studios

By Sam Shepard

Directed by Deborah Paige

Lighting Peter Hunter
Sound Gina Hills

States of Shock is a full-length drama by Sam Shepard. A wild and scathing anti-war play whose characters embody the conflicts and violent contradictions of America today.


Set in a nondescript family restaurant, with bad service and raging customers, the stage becomes a battlefield for America's strident efforts to define itself. Before the action is over, Sam Shepard's anti-war message is not merely confined to Vietnam, but also encompasses the local wars of modern life between sexes, races, families and ideals.

States of Shock is set in a diner somewhere in America.

‘At the Salisbury Playhouse, Sam Shepard’s States of Shock is given one of the best sets I
have ever seen in a studio theatre…the stage is littered with hundreds, possibly thousands
of small photographs, some of them torn up on the floor, others stuck on the walls. Lucy
Hall’s set deserves the highest praise.’

Malcolm Rutherford, Financial Times

'The first clue to what the piece is about comes from Lucy Hall's opening design of two blanched, corpse-like diners sitting under a tightly stretched membrane against which shredded photographs have been blown like dead leaves, rustling and vibrating in sympathy with spasmodic lighting and the rhythms of bombardment. It could be a tent in the desert. It could be an image of the jittery United States womb, where gas masks were being sold on the streets during the war.'

Irving Wardle, The Independent 

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