A Life in the Theatre
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A Life in the Theatre

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  214 ratings  ·  7 reviews
David Mamet is the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of such seminal plays of our time as Glengarry Glen Ross, American Buffalo, Oleanna, and Speed-the-Plow. His A Life in the Theatre takes us into the lives of two actors: one young and rising into the first full flush of his success; the other older, anxious and beginning to wane. In a series of short, spare, and increasingly...more
Paperback, 120 pages
Published January 14th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1977)
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Like Mamet's other great plays, this title proves its worth through the questions it doesn't answer.

The play concerns two actors; one older, one younger. In roughly a dozen rapid-fire scenes on- and off-stage, the elder actor attempts to teach a lesson, and the younger actor responds.

What complicates matters is what happens outside of the audience's eyes. One of the actors begins to see greater professional success than the other, altering the teacher/student dynamic. As the play progresses, the...more
To be fair, I don't remember reading this so much as the performance I saw: Performed late-night on the main stage of a 400-seat theater, the small audience sat upstage and watched the two characters downstage, with the curtain closed further down. At the points when the characters were "performing" as actors within the play, the curtain rose, and the audience saw the action looking out onto 400 seats.

And beyond all those gimmicks, its the intimacy of the play that's most striking.
Mar 17, 2011 Tony rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: drama
Mamet, David. A LIFE IN THE THEATRE: A PLAY. (1978). ****. This is a play I’d truly love to see performed. There are only two players: Robert, an older actor, and John, a younger actor. Although it is basically a comedy, it has its serious moments, when the souls of both actors are bared to the audience and to each other. This is a remarkable play in twenty-five scenes. Recommended.

After Glengarry Glen Ross, this is my favorite Mamet play. Almost skeletal in its sparseness, it still manages to both specifically illuminate the life of the actor while also more generally capture the melancholy state of affairs when the elements of a craft of any sort are passed down from one generation to the next.
Neil Schleifer
This is Mamet at his most sentimental. This observation of an older actor, beyond his prime, trying pridefully to impart his wisdom on his younger, up-and-coming co-star is a melancholy observation on aging, relevance and ego. It's a nice contrast to the expletive-laced, machine-gun fire dialogue Mamet later became known for.
Feb 09, 2009 Jen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: plays
This play looks at the relationship between two actors as they rehearse, prep, and perform various plays. Offstage, they seemingly have a cordial, if not friendly, relationship, until time passes and it's obvious that the two are pretending as much off stage as on.
May 25, 2011 Sarah added it
Shelves: productions-seen
England 2005. Apollo Theatre. April 6.

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David Alan Mamet is an American author, essayist, playwright, screenwriter and film director. His works are known for their clever, terse, sometimes vulgar dialogue and arcane stylized phrasing, as well as for his exploration of masculinity.

As a playwright, he received Tony nominations for Glengarry Glen Ross (1984) and Speed-the-Plow (1988). As a screenwriter, he received Oscar nominations for Th...more
More about David Mamet...
Glengarry Glen Ross Oleanna American Buffalo Sexual Perversity in Chicago & The Duck Variations True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor

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