90% of the people who come to see my production of Glengarry Glen Ross won’t like it. And I’m 100% okay with that. Let me explain…
Glengarry Glen Ross, written by David Mamet, has been one of my favorite plays since I studied it at Rider University (followed immediately by The Goat, or Who is Sylvia). The Pennington Players have graciously afforded me the opportunity to direct a production of this show, and I couldn’t be any more thankful that they did.
I’m thankful because there is a reason that this show, or any David Mamet show for that matter, isn’t done too often. Glengarry Glen Ross is not a show for those people who want/expect a happy story with a beginning, middle, and an end. The audience simply serves as a fly-on-the-wall as the story explores what happens when people become morally bankrupt and toxic masculinity takes over. During the first 30-minutes of the show, most of the dialogue picks up mid-conversation, and then suddenly, the scene will end mid-conversation. It can be frustrating for some.
Glengarry Glen Ross has a Pulitzer-winning script about desperate real estate agents in 1984 Chicago willing to do anything and everything to make a sale and survive to the next day. The show features loads of casual racism, F-bombs galore, and 80-straight-minutes of quippy back-and-forth dialogue that modern audiences may equate to watching an Aaron Sorkin television show… without the lighthearted levity.
After our final tech performance, one of the people watching the show came up to me and said, “One day you’ll have to explain to me what the point of it all was.” I laughed it off, but I was reminded that THAT will be a common reaction to this 80-minute, no-intermission slug fest. This show features no characters you want to root for, every character is desperate and borderline pathetic, and you’ll have moments when you are moved by a character’s motivations and then repelled by their actions thirty-seconds later.
This is a dark, shifty play with slippery words and lightning-fast dialogue that will most likely go over most of the audience’s head. It’s a play where the playwright clearly doesn’t care what audience thinks. In fact, in our contract for the show, David Mamet explicitly banned any sort of post-show talk-back with the audience. He wants you to feel however you feel. He wants you to enjoy your night at the theater and talk amongst yourselves on the drive home.
Some of you will love it, some of you will hate it. There’s no intermission, there’s no fancy special effects or memorable tunes you can hum on the drive home. It’s simply a look in the life of a variety of testosterone-driven characters who are nostalgic for a time when they were young and virile salesmen because now they are struggling to survive, even when they do get a small hint of “success”.
The “point” of this show is really in the eyes of each individual person. Each audience member will walk out of The Kelsey Theatre feeling something completely different. Each audience member will walk away with more questions than answers. And that is exactly how David Mamet wants it. I think that’s the beauty of the story being told, and I embraced it wholeheartedly.
With all of that being said… I hope you come see it and I hope you enjoy your evening with us! The show is a lot to take in and it’s unconventional in so many ways, but the artistry behind it is so much fun to watch.
I am so incredibly proud of this cast, this creative team, and this show. This cast and crew has worked their ass off delving into these characters and this story. And they’re all doing it because I had a silly dream of doing this show almost 10 years ago. I couldn’t be more proud of our work here.
I hope that this show sparks conversations on the drive home. If it does… then I’ve accomplished my goal.
I hope you all get a chance to come out and see it. Glengarry Glen Ross runs May 25 through June 3 inside The Kelsey Theatre in West Windsor, New Jersey. CLICK HERE for additional information and tickets.