True West premiered on December 23, 1980 at Joseph Papp's Public Theater in New York. But, it came to prominence when it was revived by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago who would later bring it back to the New York before performing a televised presentation of it in 1984. The lead actors for Steppenwolf Theatre Company and for the televised production were John Malkovich and Gary Sinise. The original New York cast included Tommy Lee Jones and Peter Boyle.
Though the initial Off-Broadway run at the Public Theater was short lived--it closed on January 11, 1981--Shepard's play would go on to be a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1983. The story is one about the double nature of man, an issue that Shepard believed was one that could not be so easily overcome. Within this duality would lead to many actors switching roles during the performance, most famously by Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly in the 2000 production. The play was produced both internationally as well as State-side, with such acting greats as the aforementioned Hoffman, Reilly, Sinise and Malkovich as well as Anthony Sher and Mark Rylance.