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New and Forthcoming

This is a survey of the year's upcoming productions of Mamet's plays, his directing, writing, and work in films.


Never idle, David Mamet has had an extraordinarily prolific and productive year, and his work continues to enliven theatre across the country and around the world.

Theatre: Adapted by Pierre Laville, Mamet's French translator, Oleanna was staged in Brussels in November 1995. Directed by Adrian Brine, the production featured Christian Crahay and Valerie Marchant. Productions of Oleanna were also staged in Great Britain at the Theatr Clwyd and Salisbury Playhouse. Additionally, in April 1996 Oleanna received an interesting interpretation at the Detroit Repertory Theatre where director Bruce Millan created a confrontational Carol. As played by Chris Ann Voudoukis, Carol clearly is baiting John (Harry Wetzel) from the play's opening moments to its climactic conclusion (see Oleanna reviews this edition).

Celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary and long association with Mamet, the Ensemble Studio Theatre staged five Mamet one act plays and monologues in March 1996. Directed by Curt Dempster, the production, entitled No One Will Be Immune: Five Pieces for Theatre , included the world premiere of Sunday Afternoon, the resonant, but previously upstaged “Joseph Dintenfass,” “A Sermon, Almost Done,” and “No One Will Be Immune,” reprising the Ensemble Studio Theatre Marathon 1995 production of this one-act play. Written in 1974, “Joseph Dintenfass,” a fifteen-minute piece that Mamet says had languished in the drawer, was one of the strongest segments of Dempster's production, which, in retrospect has particular relevance to recent Mamet plays (see review).

The Cryptogram also received two fine productions this spring/ summer at the Alley Theatre, Houston, and the Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, both directed by long-time Mamet associate and former student, Scott Zigler (see reviews this issue). Zigler, now at the American Repertory Theatre, served as associate director for the American premiere of The Cryptogram (February 1995). He has previously directed productions of Oleanna and Speed-the-Plow . His productions are more restrained than either Gregory Mosher's London premiere (1994), or David Mamet's American premiere (1995)--originally in Boston, later in New York, resulting in the playwright's fourth Obie for Best New American Play.

After more than a year-long run in New York, Death Defying Acts closed at the end of February and began a national tour. Reviews have been uniformly favorable.

The Atlantic Theater Company's production of Edmond , directed by Clark Gregg, was staged in August at the ATC's summer home in Burlington, Vermont. Starring David Rasche as Edmond, and Jordan Lage, Leslie Silva, David Pittu, and Mary McCann, who succeeded Rebecca Pidgeon in the New York production of Oleanna, the ATC's production of Edmond , like its 1995 season opener Dangerous Corner, appeared at the Burlington City Arts Festival. On Oct. 1 the production reopened at the ATC in New York.

Originally scheduled to open at the Mark Taper Forum several seasons ago prior to a difference of opinion between the Taper and the playwright over casting for Oleanna (which subsequently opened at the Tiffany Theatre--see 1994 DMR ), David Mamet's Old Neighborhood, a domestic trilogy, will finally have its world premiere in spring 1997 at the Hasty Pudding Theatre, Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Oleanna opened in 1992. Like Oleanna and The Cryptogram, Old Neighborhood will be produced by the American Repertory Company in its New Stages series. Scott Zigler will direct; the cast has not yet been released.

Finally, of special interest to MLA attendees, the Studio Theatre's production of Cryptogram will continue its run in Washington during the convention (202 332 3300). For seven additional Cryptogram performances, nationwide, consult the October issue of American Theatre .

Mamet directs: This year, Mamet directed his acclaimed adaptation of J.B. Priestly's A Dangerous Corner for the Atlantic Theater Company's tenth anniversary season. Premiering at the Burlington City Arts Festival, Vermont, prior to its New York run, the production featured superb performances by Rebecca Pidgeon and Felicity Huffman, a recent Obie winner for her performance in The Cryptogram (see review). Mamet has also recently directed "Ricky Jay and his 52 Assistants" for HBO. The stage production of Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants enjoyed an extended run in New York in 1994.

Film: American Buffalo , whose opening was anticipated in December 1995 concurrent with the play's 20th anniversary, had its premiere at the Boston Film Festival (as did Glengarry Glen Ross) on September 8 after a delay of nine months. Director Michael Corrente, who also directed Federal Hill, briefly introduced the film which showcases Mamet's thrilling command of language. Dustin Hoffman, who turns in a stunning performance as Teach, Dennis Franz as Donny, and Sean Nelson as Bobby star in Mamet's screenplay. Gregory Mosher, who owns the rights to the play, produced. A number of fund-raising events took place in New York at the Ensemble Theatre and in Rhode Island, where the film was shot, to raise money for its distribution (review this issue).

Lee Tamahori will direct Mamet's screenplay Bookworm with Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin, who previously appeared in Glengarry Glen Ross. Filming is set to begin in late August. Also set to begin filming in the fall of 1996 is Mamet's screenplay, The Spanish Prisoner, starring Rebecca Pidgeon, Steve Martin, Ricky Jay and Felicity Huffman, with locations in Boston, New York and Florida. Mamet will direct.

Mamet has also finished the first draft of a political film for Barry Levinson, Wag The Dog, and he has agreed to write and direct a film about ill-starred silent screen comic Fatty Arbuckle, the central figure in one of Hollywood's most notorious scandals in 1921. The script will be based on the 1921 book by Andy Edmonds, Frame-Up: The Untold Story of Roscoe "Fatty "Arbuckle .

Publications: Published in July, Make-Believe Town: Essays and Reminiscences , the playwright's fifth collection of highly personal essays, includes pieces that reveal his views on higher education and on the wisdom of poker players and deer hunters. Among the most moving is an homage to long-time friend and collaborator Gregory Mosher. Several forthright essays also extend the playwright's previously-stated views on Judaism (in Some Freaks ) and more fully examine some of the issues addressed in Homicide.

Mamet's children's book, The Duck and the Goat , will be published by St. Martin's Press before the end of the year. Vintage will publish True and False, a collection of the playwright's lectures on acting.

Also completed this year is Mamet's second novel, The Old Religion. The subject and setting in the South differ markedly from that of The Village. A publisher for this work has not been finalized.

Musical lyrics and librettos: A long-time fan of Randy Newman's music, David Mamet co-wrote the new book for Randy Newman’s Faust with Newman. Based on Goethe's Faust, the musical, with its 21 actors, singers and dancers, has a devilish sense of humor and a wicked pop hook. Trading one's soul for money is a natural subject for Mamet. Directed by Michael Greif, artistic director of the La Jolla Playhouse [who most recently won a Tony for Rent ], the production opened the Goodman Theatre Mainstage season on September 26. An earlier version, with a script by Newman alone, premiered late last summer at La Jolla. With Ken Page as the Lord and David Garrison as the Devil, Kurt Deutsch plays Henry Faust, Generation X-er and third year Notre Dame freshman, who trades his soul for money, babes and power as the object of a wager between God and "Luci," who longs to rejoin the Lord in Heaven so that he, too, can perfect his golf swing.

The many-talented Mamet has once again turned his hand to writing Iyrics. Having previously collaborated with Rebecca Pidgeon on four cuts of her album, The Raven, which was released to critical acclaim in 1994, on her most recent album, The New York Girl's Club (Cheeky JD 141 000), Mamet writes lyrics for four songs and coauthors a fifth with Pidgeon.

Two final notes. The Palm Restaurant opened in Boston this spring with much fanfare about the notable political, social, and artistic personalities whose caricatures were chosen to grace its walls. Much admired in Boston, the playwright's caricature is, of course, among them. Finally, in keeping with the "back to nature" theme of The Village and Bookworm, we have word that Mamet has agreed to design a line of upscale woodsy-wear under the label "Joseph Morse Company" to be marketed and sold through high-end publications.


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