PBS airs Steppenwolf’s ‘True West’
Photo: PBS

January 31, 1984

Today Steppenwolf is shorthand for Chicago’s dynamic, world-class theater scene, a talent incubator on a national scale. But it was hardly a household name when PBS viewers tuned in to American Playhouse on a Tuesday night to watch John Malkovich and Gary Sinise circle each other, fangs bared, in Sam Shepard’s study of acrid family discord. The hair-raising and often hilarious performances made the actors into stars — and solidified Chicago’s reputation as a town where theater takes chances.