New and Forthcoming
Leslie Kane surveys upcoming New York Cryptogram directed by Mamet as well as films of American Buffalo and Vanya on 42nd Street, and Mamet's new book, Passover.
New and Forthcoming
THEATRE: Under David Mamet's direction, the American premiere of The Cryptogram opened in Boston at the C. Walsh Theatre on February 5, 1995, starring Shelton Dane, as the young boy, Felicity Huffman, a founding member of the Atlantic Theatre Company, as the boy's mother Donny, and Ed. Begley, Jr., as the family's best friend Del. While Ms. Huffman is the only Mamet veteran in the cast, having previously appeared as Karen in SpeedthePlow, Glenna in Oh Hell and in the televised version of The Water Engine, all three actors have garnered strong reviews, as has Mamet's production, which differs sharply from Gregory Mosher's London production seen last summer at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End (reviewed in this issue). The most notable differences are an intimate setting and theatre, a single emotionally searing seventyfive minute act, firstrate performances by the entire cast, coupled with Mamet's attention to every detail of production. A stairway dominates the spare set design of John Lee Beatty, who has worked with Mamet on numerous productions; costumes by Harriet Voyt, who was responsible for costume design in Oleanna, wonderfully evoke the 1950s, and lighting by Dennis Parichy similarly complements the playwright's intent in this carefully crafted work. This production was part of the American Repertory Company's New Stages '95 Series; the New Stages Series of the ART previously presented the world premiere of Mamet's Oleanna in May 1992.
The New York production of The Cryptogram, with the Boston cast intact, opened at the intimate Westside Theatre on April 13, 1995, a replica of Mamet's Boston production, earning glowing praise for the play and the cast (reviewed in this issue). In late spring, The Cryptogram was awarded an Obie for the Best New American Play, the playwright's fourth; Felicity Huffman won an Obie for her performance as Donny. Mamet's production of The Cryptogram ran in New York from early April until June 4.
On March 6, 1995 Death Defying Acts, three oneact plays— Central Park West by Woody Allen, An Interuiew by David Mamet, and Hotline Acts by Elaine May— directed by Michael Blakemore opened at the Variety Arts Theatre. Mamet's cryptic, Kafkaesque work, An Interview (reviewed in this issue), stars Paul Guilfoyle as the Attorney and Gerry Becker as the Attendant. Summoned to defend his life, Guilfoyle wonderfully reflects a range of emotions, puzzlement, selfassertion and resignation, eliciting what Brad Leithauser of Time has characterized as An Interview's "little wallop of spooky uneasiness."
Mamet's powerful No One Will Be Immune (also reviewed in this issue), a play written in 1990, was staged at the Ensemble Studio Theatre Marathon 1995, Series C in June 1995. It was directed by Curt Dempster. Previous
Mamet plays that have been staged as part of this annual theatrical event include Vermont Sketches and The Frog Prince.
In the fall the playwright will direct J.B. Priestly's Dangerous Corner, the Atlantic Theatre Company's season opener, set to premiere on September 28. This production was seen earlier this summer in Burlington, Vermont, the summer home of the New York Citybased Atlantic Theatre Company, founded by the playwright, which annually stages innovative productions as part of the Burlington City Arts Festival.
Throughout 199495 productions of Mamet's plays have appeared worldwide. In addition to numerous productions of Oleanna, SpeedthePlow opened in Paris, and The Cryptogram in Switzerland, Finland, Italy and Greece.
FILM: Staged under the direction of Gregory Mosher at the Goodman Theatre in October 1975, David Mamet's American Buffalo is a pivotal event in the history of American theatre. With the twentieth anniversary of its premiere production approaching in October, filming of American Buffalo began in late May in Providence, Rhode Island. Directed by Michael Corrente, American Buffalo, an adaptation of Mamet's critically acclaimed play, will star Dustin Hoffman as Teach, Dennis Franz as Donny, and Sean Nelson in the role of Bobby. Mamet has written the screenplay from the play script. Mosher, director of both productions of American Buffalo in Chicago in 1975 and the New York production in 1976, to whom Mamet gave the rights, will produce the film. The low budget film will be distributed by the Samuel Goldwyn Company domestically; Capital Films owns foreign distribution rights. Release is expected Christmas 1995 or early 1996.
Andre Gregory's Vanya, based on David Mamet's adaptation of Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, has been released on video. Also in video is Oleanna, directed by David Mamet, and starring William H. Macy and Deborah Eisenstadt.
Mamet's latest screenplay completed in July 1995 entitled Bookworm will be produced by longtime friend Art Linson. Lee Tamahori will direct. The casting for the film has not yet been released.
PUBLICATIONS: The Village published by Little, Brown in October (and reviewed in this issue), is an elliptical ensemble piece that has been likened to both Mamet's plays and a longstanding American literary tradition, notably Nick Adams stories, Winesburg, Ohio and "The Bear." Speaking about the novel in a recent interview, Mamet alluded to the cliffficulty of life in a harsh climate and the interdependence of the inhabitants of a small town as contributory factors in his writing of this first novel. The Village will be available in paperback February 1996. Mamet is at work on a second novel.
Also released in April 1995 from St. Martin's Press is Mamet's Passover. Rather than a classic retelling of the biblical story of the release of Jews from Egyptian slavery, Passover is a uniquely Mametic modern parable of survival, inspired by the birth of his daughter, Clara, and his grandmother. A comingofage story imbued with the power of history and informed by as much by tradition as terror, Mamet's Passover reveals in fortynine riveting pages the playwright's fascination with duplicity and disclosure. Scratchboard drawings by Michael McCurdy beautifully and evocatively illustrate the novella. Little Brown expects to release Mamet's latest collection of essays, MakeBelieve Town, a compilation of new and previously published essays, in February 1996. Finally, in its spring issue, Conjunction will publish Mamet's five "L A. Schetches."