David Mamet is widely considered to be the voice of contemporary American Theatre. His use of what is taken to be realistic language together with minimalist staging creates a postmodern combination that pushes an audience in conflicting directions. The result is that initial audiences for Oleanna were aroused to applaud and loudly react to the ending of the play when a male teacher beats a female student. The issues the play raises about political correctness are turned on their head. Oleanna is a particularly complex play in terms of both form and content and this guide offers a theoretically informed introductory analysis. It provides students with a comprehensive critical introduction to the play and includes new interpretations of the text in light of recent developments in Mamet's playwriting and the intervening shifts in the political landscape.
"David Sauer has taken a key play in the 20th century canon, and, with critical insight and analytic skills, explained what made it such a key theatrical, but also social and political event. Mamet's Oleanna touched a nerve in American society. Sauer explains just why that was so without forgetting that it is first and foremost a deeply impressive dramatic work." - Professor Christopher Bigsby, School of American Studies, University of East Anglia, UK