George Ferencz is best known for his direction of plays by Sam Shepard. Recognized by the New York Times "as one of the foremost directorial interpreters of Shepard" he has directed landmark productions of ANGEL CITY, BACK BOG BEAST BAIT, COWBOY MOUTH (IN CONCERT), SUICIDE IN Bb and THE TOOTH OF CRIME. His productions and rehearsal techniques appear in several books including "The Cambridge Companion to Sam Shepard" edited by Matthew Roudane', "Theater On The Edge: New Visions, New Voices" by Mel Gussow and "Theater Criticisms" by Stanley Kaufman. Ferencz's "Directing Shepard" was published by the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers Journal and he addressed the TCG Conference about his work with Max Roach on three plays of Shepard.
His integration of music in the Shepard plays was profiled in American Theater magazine and he has taught and lectured and directed Shepard works at several universities including Columbia, Yale and New York University.
Ferencz's production of COWBOY MOUTH (IN CONCERT), which played in Berlin before a successful German tour praised in Theater Heute magazine, emerged from a festival of Sam Shepard plays presented by Columbia Summer Theater as Shep'n'Rep (Rock'n'Roll Theater). That festival also had Ferencz productions of MAD DOG BLUES, MELODRAMA PLAY and THE TOOTH OF CRIME. COWBOY MOUTH (IN CONCERT) returned to a successful limited run in New York which the New York Times noted "is a sizzling, surrealistic 70 minutes that in its own way comes closer to the spirit of Shepard than some more elaborate productions of more complete plays."
THE TOOTH OF CRIME was staged at Syracuse Stage and set box office records as well as a critical controversary that included an editorial in the Syracuse Post-Standard on the meaning of art. Ferencz's production moved to La MaMa for a successful limited run which the Village Voice praised "Finally THE TOOTH OF CRIME is given a production that has it's actions and emotions in the right place. All the elements are laid out clearly and with emphatic force by someone who knows every inch of the dramatic action. Ferencz brings out more strongly than in any other production the warmth of Shepard's despair."
Ferencz teamed with Max Roach to create the La MaMa/Syracuse Stage production of SHEPARDSETS, a trilogy of Shepard's jazz plays. The Village Voice again enthused "SUICIDE IN Bb is a total triumph, a beauty, a very rich occassion. The link with jazz is precisely what gives Ferencz's production its unity. Rather than trying to squeeze the music into the play, he's astutely reversed the situation, making the actors part of Max Roach's splendiferous score." The New York Times stated that " Ferencz, who has proved himself to be one of the playwright's most inventive interpreters, approaches ANGEL CITY as a free-form jazz riff, enriching the text with Roach's music, counterpointing the rippling rhythms of dialogue." And his production of BACK BOG BEAST BAIT was described in the New York Times as "an authentic discovery, a dynamic production that should consolidate Mr. Ferencz's position as one of the formost interpreters of Shepard. It is evident that Mr. Ferencz and his company are making a distinct contribution to the theatrical and musical uses of Sam Shepard's plays."
Ben Brantley in the New York Times wrote about the 2006 revival: “La MaMa E.T.C.’s highly entertaining new revival of THE TOOTH OF CRIME . . . as directed by George Ferencz, in a restaging of his 1983 concert-style production . . . this interpretation, in bringing demystifying clarity to a work often dismissed as a smoky head trip, makes a compelling case for THE TOOTH OF CRIME as one of Mr. Shepard’s best plays and perhaps the best American drama on the cancerous nature of fame.”
George Ferencz's quote "Modern Theatre is Music-Theatre" became the title of the TCG published account of a roundtable discussion on the role of music in today's theater. It also serves as a description of Ferencz's approach to the work of Sam Shepard.