Plays by David Mamet

American Buffalo

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Donny runs a junkshop with the help of his young, enthusiastic new employee, Bobby. When a customer comes in on the hunt for an antique coin, Donny sees a business opportunity. Between them, Donny and Bobby plot to rob their wealthy neighbour of his valuable coin collection. Donny’s friend, Walter, however, suspects that all is not as it seems. American Buffalo asks its audience: how do you know who you can trust?

First performed at the Goodman Theatre, Chicago, in 1975, American Buffalo transferred to Broadway in 1977, before playing the Cottesloe auditorium at the National Theatre, London, in 1978. It was revived at the Duke of York Theatre, London, in 1984, with Al Pacino as Teach.

audio American Buffalo

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

David Mamet’s gift for storytelling and forging poetry from both the plain-spoken and profane turns an ill-conceived scheme to steal a rare coin into a triumph of dramatic art. In a junk shop, three men of different generations plan their heist. But their fates, like the nickel’s worn image of the beleaguered buffalo, may have been sealed long ago. An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast production starring Rich Hutchman as Donny DuBrow, Josh Stamberg as Walter Cole (Teacher), and Maurice Williams as Bobby. Directed by Brian Kite and recorded before an audience by L.A. Theatre Works. Featuring: Rich Hutchman, Josh Stamberg, Maurice Williams

The Cryptogram

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

One night in 1959, a boy, John, is preparing to go on a camping trip with his father. Getting his things ready, he listens to the conversations of his mother, Donny, and a family friend, Del. What unfolds is a mysterious drama of half-spoken sentences and semi-remembered moments all circling around an opaque instance of childhood grief.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Charles Spenser wrote that 'The Cryptogram powerfully pins down that moment when childish innocence gives way to adult knowledge, the moment when we recognise that the world can be a terryfying place. And as the meaning of Mamet's crypttogram sinks in, with its heart-rending depiction of our fall from grace, you find yourself assailtd by grief – both the author's and your own.'

The Cryptogram received its world premiere at the Ambassadors Theatre, London, on 29 June 1994. Its US premiere followed at the American Repertory Theatre, Massachusetts, on 2 February 1995.

Dark Pony

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Dark Pony is a short, beautiful play in which a father shares a bedtime story with his daughter as they drive home late at night. The story he tells centres around a Native American named Rain Boy, and his horse, Dark Pony. The Star Tribune described the play as 'A subtle, lyrical, dreamlike vignette . . . It's a lovely little tale about childhood memories and emotions.'

Dark Pony was first performed on 14 October 1977, in a Yale Repertory production, New Haven, Connecticut, directed by Walt Jones.

audio David Mamet Shorts: Bobby Gould in Hell

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Three one-act plays from David Mamet, one of the master stage writers of our time:

The Shawl - A clairvoyant is in the process of swindling an unsuspecting woman on the basis of clever guess work and speculation. But it appears the clairvoyant has special powers that even he may not be aware of.

Reunion - After years of separation, Reunion follows the painful and deliberate efforts of a divorced and recovering alcoholic father, Bernie, and his daughter Carol to work their way back to early bonds of affection.

Bobby Gould in Hell - In this comic mediation on the nature of good and evil, Bobby Gould (from Mamet’s celebrated Speed the Plow) is interrogated by a pair of devils to decide his faith.

L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performances featuring Gus Buktenica, Dale Calandia, Marilou Henner, John Mahoney, Neil Pepe, Rebecca Pidgeon, Marc Vann and Dan LaMorte.

Featuring: Gus Buktenica, Dale Calandia, Marilou Henner, John Mahoney, Neil Pepe, Rebecca Pidgeon, Marc Vann and Dan LaMorte.

audio David Mamet Shorts: Reunion

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Three one-act plays from David Mamet, one of the master stage writers of our time:

The Shawl - A clairvoyant is in the process of swindling an unsuspecting woman on the basis of clever guess work and speculation. But it appears the clairvoyant has special powers that even he may not be aware of.

Reunion - After years of separation, Reunion follows the painful and deliberate efforts of a divorced and recovering alcoholic father, Bernie, and his daughter Carol to work their way back to early bonds of affection.

Bobby Gould in Hell - In this comic mediation on the nature of good and evil, Bobby Gould (from Mamet’s celebrated Speed the Plow) is interrogated by a pair of devils to decide his faith.

L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performances featuring Gus Buktenica, Dale Calandia, Marilou Henner, John Mahoney, Neil Pepe, Rebecca Pidgeon, Marc Vann and Dan LaMorte.

Featuring: Gus Buktenica, Dale Calandia, Marilou Henner, John Mahoney, Neil Pepe, Rebecca Pidgeon, Marc Vann and Dan LaMorte.

audio David Mamet Shorts: The Shawl

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Three one-act plays from David Mamet, one of the master stage writers of our time:

The Shawl - A clairvoyant is in the process of swindling an unsuspecting woman on the basis of clever guess work and speculation. But it appears the clairvoyant has special powers that even he may not be aware of.

Reunion - After years of separation, Reunion follows the painful and deliberate efforts of a divorced and recovering alcoholic father, Bernie, and his daughter Carol to work their way back to early bonds of affection.

Bobby Gould in Hell - In this comic mediation on the nature of good and evil, Bobby Gould (from Mamet’s celebrated Speed the Plow) is interrogated by a pair of devils to decide his faith.

L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performances featuring Gus Buktenica, Dale Calandia, Marilou Henner, John Mahoney, Neil Pepe, Rebecca Pidgeon, Marc Vann and Dan LaMorte.

Featuring: Gus Buktenica, Dale Calandia, Marilou Henner, John Mahoney, Neil Pepe, Rebecca Pidgeon, Marc Vann and Dan LaMorte.

Duck Variations

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Emil and George, two gentlemen in their sixties, are sitting on a park bench by a lake in a big city. Wherever their conversation goes, it always comes back to ducks: their mating habits, their mortal enemies, their inevitable demise.

A wry, pseudo-existentialist discussion of what we do and why we do it, in fourteen ‘variations’, Mamet’s short duologue was first presented in the U.S.A. by the St. Nicholas Theatre Company at Goddard College, Vermont, in 1972, and had its British premiere at the Regent Theatre, London, in 1977.

Edmond

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A fortune-teller’s teasing rumination sends Edmond lurching into New York City’s hellish underworld, his whole life abandoned in a searing quest for self-discovery and redemption. From brothels to jail cells, card-sharps to chaplains, Edmond depicts a man on a mission which is doomed to cycle through hope and disappointment.

Writing about the play, the Financial Times wrote: ‘A stunning amorality play, glittering and disturbing, suspended in the dark void of contemporary New York. It is also a technically adventurous piece pared brilliantly to the bone, highly theatrical in its scenic elisions.’

Edmond was first performed at the Goodman Theater, Chicago, in June 1982, in a production directed by Gregory Mosher.

Glengarry Glen Ross

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Glengarry Glen Ross is a spikey, powerful, and nerve-wracking story of four real estate salesmen, colleagues in the same firm, who are engaged in a sales competition to try and sell off as many units of real estate as possible. But when some of the character feel that the leads are weighted in favour of those already doing well, alternative tactics are deployed to try and gain ground.

The play has been critically acclaimed since its first release, garnering major awards including the 1983 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play, the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the 1984 New York Drama Critics' Circle for Best American Play, the 2005 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Play and the 2005 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.

Glengarry Glen Ross was first presented in the Cottesloe auditorium of the National Theatre, London, on 21 September 1983. The US premiere took place the following year at the Goodman Theatre of the Arts Institute of Chicago on 6 February 1984, before transferring to the John Golden Theater on Broadway on 25 March 1984. It was subsequently adapted for the screen by the author, the film being released in 1992 and starring Alan Arkin, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Jonathan Pryce and Kevin Spacey.

audio Glengarry Glen Ross

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

"A group of low-ranking real estate salesmen are trying to survive in a cut-throat office culture. But when two of them devise a plot to redress the company’s wrongs, the resulting turmoil increases the pressure to unbearable levels.

A 1984 Pulitzer Prize winner for Drama. An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: Joe Mantegna as Ricky Roma Gordon Clapp as David Moss Kyle Colerider-Krugh as Detective Baylen Richard Dreyfuss as Shelly Levine John Getz as James Lingk Richard Schiff as George Aaronow Josh Stamberg as John Williamson Directed by Eric Simonson. Recorded by L.A. Theatre Works before a live audience."

Featuring: Gordon Clapp, Kyle Colerider-Krugh, Richard Dreyfuss, John Getz, Joe Mantegna, Richard Schiff, Josh Stamberg

Lakeboat

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Dale Katzman is spending his summer vacation from university aboard a cargo ship on the Great Lakes. Hired on as a cook – to replace the unfortunate Guigliani who suffered a violent attack of some sort while on shore leave – Dale is thrust into a world of swearing, drinking, bordeom and sailing; a world, above all, of men.

Described by the New York times as 'Mamet's Life on the Mississippi [a memoir by Mark Twain] . . . the writing is effortless and intuitive - and some of tales are as tall as Twain's', Lakeboat is a semi-autobiographical play which draws inspiration from Mamet's own time working aboard a cargo ship.

Written first in 1970, it was revised and first performed in 1980 by the Court Street Theater, a project of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Wisconsin.

A Life in the Theatre

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A Life in the Theatre shows the relationship between two stage actors – Robert, the older, and John, the younger – who are playing side by side in a season of plays. We see them both off stage and on as their relationship evolves from one of professional solidarity to one marked by bitterness and division, with John's promise as a young actor beginning to be realised just as Robert's talent starts to wane.

‘As so often in Mamet, a sense of desolation lies behind the laughter. In the spare, beautifully poised dialogue of the off-stage scenes he captures all the tension and rivalry between the old stager and the young pretender, scrupulously charting the balance of power as it shifts from age to youth . . . Mamet brings us to the heart of transcience and loss.’ Sunday Telegraph

A Life in the Theatre was first produced by the Theater de Lys, New York City, and opened on 20 October 1977, in a production directed by Gerald Gutierrez.

Mr Happiness

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A short monologue about a radio agony uncle reading out his listeners’ letters and responding to their troubles of the heart, Mr Happiness first appeared at the Plymouth Theatre on Broadway in 1978.

The Old Neighborhood

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

When Bobby returns to the old neighborhood, the people and places of his past cast shadows over the present.

In a trio of interleaved scenes, The Old Neighborhood provides a rare personal insight into Mamet’s world.

After its London opening, the Evening Standard reviewed the play, giving Mamet high praise in the process: ‘Mamet, ranked with Miller, Albee and Shepard as America’s finest living playwrights, distills the raw, rank flavour of people wading down streams of consciousness . . . A play of riveting disquiet.’ Mamet himself writes at length in his introduction, saying ‘The play is, of course, just three one-act plays with the same protagonist - three visions of ‘the trip home’. Both the subject and the form are modern, grown out, let me pontificate, of the late Industrial Revolution and the decampment from the Land . . . Stanislavski wrote that tragedy stands in the same relation to melodrama that drama does to comedy. I find the insight useful, as this drama . . . can, by squinting, be seen as comedies . . . They rely upon manufacturing incidents to reveal character, which incidents might as well be gags; and, at the play’s end, the protagonist is surprised to find him or herself right back where they started.

The Old Neighborhood was first performed in the United States at the Hasty Pudding Theatre, Massachusetts on 11 April 1997. Its first performance in the United Kingdom followed at the Royal Court Theatre Downstairs, London, on 17 June 1998, in a production directed by Patrick Marber.

Oleanna

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Considered to be Mamet’s most controversial play, Oleanna has shocked and enraged audiences since its first performance in 1992. A confrontation between John, a college professor, and Carol, one of his students, quickly becomes an arena for a male–female power struggle that threatens both their careers.

As Mamet’s trademark dialogue crackles along, the mechanisms of power, censorship and abuse in our politically correct age are laid bare. Writing about the play, the New York Times described it as ‘wholly absorbing . . . a virtuoso performance . . . As if ripped right from the typewriter, it could not be more direct in its technique or incendiary in its ambitions’.

Oleanna was first performed at the American Repertory Theatre, Massachusetts, in May 1992. It was first produced in the United Kingdom at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 1993, in a production directed by Harold Pinter.

Prairie du Chien

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In Prairie du Chien a railway carriage speeding through the Wisconsin night is the setting for a violent story of obsessive jealousy, murder and suicide, told within shooting distance of a card-hustler and his victim.

Reviewing the play alongside another mysterious Mamet play The Shawl, the New Statesman wrote ‘The concerns of Prairie du Chien and The Shawl are familiar ones. Do values exist? Is the world a jungle only? And how, finally, can we know the answer to that or anything else? Big general questions but dramatised with a succinctness, a concreteness, an energy, a fizz and a snap of which few if any playwrights are capable’.

Written so that it can be performed either onstage or on the radio, Prairie du Chien premiered on ‘Earplay’, a National Public Radio show in April 1979. It was first performed in Britain at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs on 9 June 1986, in a production directed by Max Stafford-Clark.

Reunion

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Reunion is a short, but touching play which shows the meeting between a father and daughter after nearly twenty years of separation. A play which pitches great emotion through restraint, awkwardness and small talk, it was first produced by the St Nicholas Theater Company, Chicago, on 9 January 1976, in a production directed by Cecil O'Neill. It was first produced in Britain in a double bill with Dark Pony at the King's Head Theatre Club, London, in February 1981.

'It would be hard to over-praise the way Mr Mamet suggests behind the probing, joshing family chat an extraordinary sense of pain and loss . . . although the play has astrong social comment about the destrictively cyclical effect of divorce, it is neither sour nor defeatist.' Guardian

audio Romance

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

In this outrageous new comedy, playwright David Mamet skewers everything from sexuality to the justice system to world peace. In a world where nothing is as it seems, prepare to be offended! Fred Willard and Ed Begley Jr. star in this over-the-top comedy.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Fred Willard, Ed Begley Jr., Gordon Clapp, Noah Bean, Steven Goldstein, Rod McLachlan and Rob Nagle.

Featuring: Fred Willard, Ed Begley Jr., Gordon Clapp, Noah Bean, Steven Goldstein, Rod McLachlan, Rob Nagle

Sexual Perversity in Chicago

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Dan’s friend and colleague Bernie claims to have had a plethora of unusual sexual encounters, ranging from war-themed coitus to animal intercourse. When Dan meets, dates and moves in with the more down-to-earth Deborah, Bernie reckons it’s only a matter of time before Dan gets bored – a view shared by Deborah’s former flatmate, Joan. The fast-paced, forceful dialogue points to the city male’s propensity for sexual exaggeration and the disturbing misogyny that underpins it.

First produced by the Organic Theatre Company in Chicago in 1974, Sexual Perversity in Chicago played the Cherry Lane Theatre, New York, in 1976, before transferring to the Regent Theatre, London, the following year.

The Shawl

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Shawl is a fascinating play about mysticism, magic and deceit, in which an apparent clairvoyant named John, shows his lover, Charles, how he manages the tricks and sleights of hand of his dubious profession. Charles suggests that they use these techniques to con his latest client, Miss A, out of a recent inheritance. But in playing the con, and maximising the deceit, John, Charles and Miss A stumble upon the mystery at the heart of the difference between fact and fiction.

Reviewing a 2009 revival at the Arcola Theatre, London, Michael Billington wrote in the Guardian: 'The play works well for a number of reasons: it creates doubt; it suggests, like Jonson's Volpone and The Alchemist, that the conman depends on the psychological need of the victim to be gulled; and it makes good use of Mamet's trademark technique of creating a musical rhythm out of the ellipses of everyday speech . . . It's a wonderful play that acts as a metaphor for the theatrical process itself'.

The Shawl was first performed at the Goodman Theater's New Theater Company in Chicago on April 19 1985 in a production directed by Gregory Mosher. The UK premiere followed at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs on 9 June 1986, directed by Richard Eyre.

audio Speed the Plow

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Jaded Hollywood producer Bobby Gould has spent a career reaping what others sow, until the night he’s forced to choose between his loyal friend’s sure-fire hit and a beautiful girl’s art-house project. During a wicked evening of seduction and manipulation, Bobby discovers that the power he exerts is more elusive than it seems.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Jeff Goldblum, Adam Arkin and Dina Waters.

Featuring: Jeff Goldblum, Adam Arkin, Dina Waters

Speed-the-Plow

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

When Fox comes up with a brilliant idea for a movie, he and Gould think they’ve made it. For one blissful day the world seems about to open its arms to embrace them. Gould assures that he will bring the movie forward to the board for production, and Fox goes away happy. But when a side-bet between Fox and Gould about Gould's attractive assistant Karen ends with Gould being evangelised to an alternative vision of the world, Gould is brought to the precipice of throwing his – and Fox’s – opportunity aside.

The play was very well received when it was first presented; the New York Post wrote that it was ‘crammed with wonderful, dazzling, brilliant lines like a plum pudding with fruit, like a gagbook full of jokes. A harvest of riches. Mamet here is so damned entertaining – I laughed and laughed.’ while Newsweek called it ‘a brilliant black comedy, a dazzling dissection of Hollywood cupidity and another tone poem from our foremost master of the language of moral epilepsy.’

Speed-the-Plow was first presented in a New York Broadway production by Lincoln Center Theater at the Royale Theater, opening on May 3, 1988, in a production directed by Gregory Mosher.

Squirrels

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

First produced by the St. Nicholas Theatre Company in Chicago in 1974, Squirrels is a short play about an older writer, Arthur, his newest recruit, Edmond, and the unnamed cleaner with whom they strike up an artistic friendship.

Art, his career on the downturn, is obsessed with including squirrels in his prose – an obsession from which Ed is desperate to steer away. Every evening, once Art and Ed have gone home after a day of throwing ideas and paragraphs around to little effect, the Cleaning Woman writes down her own superior ideas for Art to find, crumpled up in the wastepaper basket, in the morning.

The Water Engine: An American Fable

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

It is 1934, and Charles Lang has invented an engine that runs solely on water. Attorneys Morton Gross and Lawrence Oberman see an opportunity to make themselves rich off the back of Lang’s ingenuity, blackmailing him into handing over the patent for his invention. When his sister Rita urges him not to give in to the bullies, Lang’s quest for justice ends in tragedy.

First produced as a radio drama for NPR, The Water Engine was first performed onstage by the St. Nicholas Theatre Company, Chicago, in 1977, before transferring to the Plymouth Theatre on Broadway the following year. It was produced at the Hampstead Theatre, London, in 1989.

The Woods

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In The Woods, David Mamet shows us one evening, night and morning in the life of a couple, Nick and Ruth, who are spending some time in a summerhouse. As they pass the time, sharing stories and arguments, the mechanics of their relationship – and by implication, the relationships between women and men generally – come into focus.

The play has been praised by the New York Times, who wrote ‘Mamet's language has never been so precise, pure and affecting’. It was first produced by the St Nicholas Theatre Company, Chicago on 11 November 1977, in a production directed by the playwright.

Picture of David Mamet

David Mamet (Playwright) plays by David Mamet include: The Penitent, China Doll, The Anarchist, Race, Keep Your Pantheon, School, November, Romance, Boston Marriage, Faustus, Oleanna, Glengarry Glen Ross (1984 Pulitzer Prize and New York Drama Critics Circle Award), American Buffalo, The Old Neighborhood, A Life in the Theatre, Speed-the-Plow, Edmond, Lakeboat, The Water Engine, The Woods, Sexual Perversity in Chicago, Reunion and The Cryptogram (1995 Obie Award). His translations and adaptations include: Faustus and Red River by Pierre Laville; and The Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters and Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekov. His films include: The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Verdict, The Untouchables, House of Games (writer/director), Oleanna (writer/director), Homicide (writer/director), The Spanish Prisoner (writer/ director), Heist (writer/director), Spartan (writer/director) and Redbelt (writer/director). Mr. Mamet is also the author of: Warm and Cold, a book for children with drawings by Donald Sultan, and two other children's books, Passover and The Duck and the Goat; Writing in Restaurants, Some Freaks, and Make-Believe Town, three volumes of essays; The Hero Pony and The China Man, a book of poems; Three Children's Plays, On Directing Film, The Cabin, and the novels The Village, The Old Religion and Wilson. His other books include the acting books, True & False and Three Uses of the Knife, Bambi vs. Godzilla, The Secret Knowledge, The Wicked Son, Theatre, and Three War Stories.