Theatre

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Overview

If theatre were a religion, explains David Mamet in his opening chapter, “many of the observations and suggestions in this book might be heretical.” As always, Mamet delivers on his promise: in Theatre, the acclaimed author of Glengarry Glen Ross and Speed the Plow calls for nothing less than the death of the director and the end of acting theory. For Mamet, either actors are good or they are non-actors, and good actors generally work best without the interference of a director, however well-intentioned. Issue ...

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Theatre

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Overview

If theatre were a religion, explains David Mamet in his opening chapter, “many of the observations and suggestions in this book might be heretical.” As always, Mamet delivers on his promise: in Theatre, the acclaimed author of Glengarry Glen Ross and Speed the Plow calls for nothing less than the death of the director and the end of acting theory. For Mamet, either actors are good or they are non-actors, and good actors generally work best without the interference of a director, however well-intentioned. Issue plays, political correctness, method actors, impossible directions, Stanislavksy, and elitists all fall under Mamet’s critical gaze. To students, teachers, and directors who crave a blast of fresh air in a world that can be insular and fearful of change, Theatre throws down a gauntlet that challenges everyone to do better, including Mamet himself.

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Editorial Reviews

Justin Moyer
…fans of [Mamet's] friendlier, funnier prose collections like Writing in Restaurants (1987) will find his cutting wit, as ever, on point.
—The Washington Post
From the Publisher
Praise for Bambi vs Godzilla:

“Sharp, savvy. . . . Icily hilarious. . . . Mr. Mamet writes with insight, idiosyncrasy, and a Godzillian imperviousness to opposition.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“Winningly pugnacious. . . . [Bambi vs. Godzilla] is funny and angry and intemperate and passionate enough to tell the truth about movies.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“This is a book infused with love – the sweet, helpless love Mamet has for film, and the communal process that makes it.” —Los Angeles Times

“Playful . . . deft. . . . Mamet the dramatist has developed a career as a prolific philosophical essayist.” —Chicago Sun-Times

Library Journal
In this manifesto, playwright Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross; Speed the Plow) appears to take great pleasure in attacking age-old theories of acting and directing. By definition, he posits, an actor is a good actor; if the person onstage is not good, then he or she is not an actor. Other targets are books of theory, which Mamet admits he read voraciously when he fell in love with the theater; he now writes, "on reflection, I had (and have) very little idea what they were talking about." Some of his main points are that theater should entertain, rehearsal time should be used to block the play and have the actors understand what they are speaking (rather than feeling), and the job of the playwright is to "make the audience wonder what is going to happen next. That's it." VERDICT Mamet is a superb playwright, and the ideas he shares would have made an excellent journal article. As a $22 hardcover, this is recommended only for die-hard Mamet disciples and exhaustive theater collections with large budgets.—Susan Peters, Univ. of Texas, Galveston
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865479470
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber
  • Publication date: 4/12/2011
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 983,184
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

DAVID MAMET is a director as well as the author of numerous acclaimed plays, books, and screenplays. His play Glengarry Glen Ross won a Pulitzer Prize, and his screenplays for The Verdict and Wag the Dog were nominated for Academy Awards. He lives in Santa Monica, California.

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Read an Excerpt

Theatre


By Mamet, David

Faber & Faber

Copyright © 2010 Mamet, David
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780865479289

The Greenroom

The greenroom is that common room between the street and the stage. In coming backstage, one enters the greenroom first. I’ve heard, over the years, several derivations of the term: The original room was painted green, or was constructed by a man named Green. None are convincing.

Early nineteenth-century British novels refer to the greenroom in a country house. They mean by this that transitional space known in New England as the mudroom. This mudroom in old farmhouses (including my own) allowed the farmer, hunter, outdoorsman to divest himself of those accoutrements that were needed on the land but inappropriate in the house. Mine, in Vermont, was filled, according to the seasons, with fishing rods, snowshoes, muddy boots, firearms, longbows, skis, skates, a snow shovel, a maul, the walls covered with hooks bearing all sorts of coats and caps, and on the floor a wooden drying rack covered with gloves, gaiters, sweaters.

In Vermont, the mudroom; in England, the greenroom, where one knocked off the grass, grain, and green of the field. On the farm, the greenroom was the space between the farm and the home; in the theatre, it rests between the sacred and the profane.

Many of the observations and suggestions in this book might be considered heretical.

That is, if the theatre were a religion. But, though its origins are linked with religion, the theatre as an art is a profession, and, in its appearance as show business, is something of a racket.

This book is a compilation and a distillation of those thoughts and attendant practices I have used in my forty years in the professional theatre. They are the rules by which I function as an artist and by which I have been able to make a living.

Faced with a difficult medical decision, we are most comforted to hear the physician endorse one of the choices by saying, “This is what I would do if it were my own child.�

The ideas herein, similarly, are what I would (and do) tell my own children and my students. I will gladly test their practicality and practicability against anyone willing to put his particular philosophy to a practical test.

Of what might such a test consist? The ability to motivate an actor to perform an action simply and unself-consciously; to involve an audience; and, at a somewhat more abstract level, to communicate a directorial or literary vision to a designer such that his designs will serve the show.

Finally, I am suggesting and describing a way of thinking about the drama (analysis) and of communicating the subsequent conclusions using language and vocabulary (direction).

Impracticable theory is an impediment to both art and sustenance, and benefits no one save the intellectual to whom theatrical thought is an abstract and enjoyable exercise. But the point of the theatre is to give the audience enjoyment, and it is my experience that to do so, the practitioner is going to have to learn discipline.

This is primarily a discipline of thought and speech. Its overriding principle is never to consider or to suggest that which is impossible to accomplish.

As a young student I abhorred direction and instruction that was incapable of being done. I still do. It called for a collusion between the student and the teacher-director: “I will pretend to an approximation of what I think you want if you will refrain from criticizing me.�

The theatre does not need more teachers or more directors; it needs more writers and actors, and both come from the same applicant pool: those who are affronted, bemused, fascinated, or saddened by the infinite variety of human interaction, which always bodes so promising and usually ends so ill.

This applicant pool is interested in the truth, and they love to act and write.

Here follow certain thoughts about these people and the audience that craves their productions.

Excerpted from Theatre by .
Copyright © 2010 by David Mamet.
Published in 2010 by Faber and Faber, Inc..
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.



Continues...

Excerpted from Theatre by Mamet, David Copyright © 2010 by Mamet, David. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3

Greenroom 8

The Hunter and the Game 12

Hunting Instincts 17

The Lamppost and the Alley 24

The Fatal Spin 28

The Problem with "Training," or "Slaves of the Ant-God, Throog" 31

Emotion 38

The Map and the Territory 41

Theatrical Forms 45

Totalitarian Tendencies 50

Repression 58

Politically Correct 63

Great American Plays and Great American Poetry 70

The Bathing Machine 75

Stagecraft 81

Impertinence 88

The End of Adolescence 90

Subvention 95

Two Teachers 103

A Culture of Confession 108

Theatrical Culture 115

Third Parties 120

On the General Uselessness of the Rehearsal Process 128

The Fallacy of the Director 135

Directing for the Stage 144

Time 152

Acknowledgments 157

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2013

    Shadow Song

    Music right here.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2013

    Rosebud

    Here!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2013

    Twily

    I am here

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2013

    The Doctor

    Here!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2013

    Rainbow Dash

    Ok music and pranks are taken. The party has to be moved to what is currently res three cuz the result it was on has dissapeared.

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  • Posted August 4, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Mamet: The Dramatic Master

    With his trademark concision, David Mamet once again challenges professional theatre practitioners to simplify their (otherwise deleterious) methods of organization, production and education. And while he is correct on almost every point he makes, please note that Mr. Mamet hasn't always practiced what he has so rigorously preached.

    In "Theatre," Mamet rails against mixing politics and entertainment. One of his best works, however, "Oleanna," is (among other things) a demonstration in censorship and an indictment of political correctness.

    Regarding his zeal for the Aristotelian Unities, one might enquire as to which dramatic principles he implemented in bringing "The Old Neighborhood" (a plotless character study) to the stage. "Cut away all embellishment and make the audience wonder what happens next," Mamet demands of us time and again. He posits that a theatrical experience "is essentially the performance of a plot..." But what, then, would be left of Shakespeare's plays if we stripped from them every line that failed to advance the plot?

    Bottom line: Mamet's writings on The Theatre often take on an absolutist or reductionist quality. They are all necessary reads for the serious dramatist and thespian nonetheless. Why? Because in "Theatre," as with his other works, Mamet points out the difference between a charlatan and an artisan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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