Category Archives: RACE by David Mamet

The Conversation on Race Moves to Africa – THE CONVERT

David Mamet’s RACE continues to play strongly with another 8 performances to go before its close on March 17. There’s a wonderful feature this week on director John Vreeke in The Washington Blade. It’s a point of pride for us to be featured as a home theater for John along with Woolly Mammoth Theatre, where John is a company member, as he’s been a Resident Director with us throughout the past decade. 480935_10152612438560543_746409452_nJohn first started at Theater J in 2001 directing BORN GUILTY (which garnered Helen Hayes Award nominations the next year for Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Resident Production). John was back a year later with Ariel Dorfman’s DEATH AND THE MAIDEN and then directed our co-production with Woolly Mammoth of Tony Kushner’s HOMEBODY KABUL.

Jennifer Mendenhall and Rick Foucheux in Tony Kushner's HOMEBODY/KABUL

Jennifer Mendenhall and Rick Foucheux in Tony Kushner’s HOMEBODY/KABUL

All really important shows for us. So here’s the salute–and the long overdue feature–to John.

We take our conversation on Race over to Woolly to consider their latest production, Danai Gurira’s THE CONVERT.

Nancy Moricette as Jekesai/Ester and JeBen Early as Tamba in Danai Gurira's THE CONVERT at Woolly Mammoth Theatre

Nancy Moricette as Jekesai/Ester and JeBen Early as Tamba in Danai Gurira’s THE CONVERT at Woolly Mammoth Theatre

A three hour and ten minute evening in three acts. How’d it fare by our student subscribers? How does it complement the month-long inquiry into Race and Class we’ve been convening on a weekly basis? Washington’s been providing quite the primer for us!

Beyond “Race,” There Is Always The Issue of Class. Thoughts on GOOD PEOPLE.

We’ll be staying close to the issue of Race for the next two weeks, while our production keeps running through March 17. But we’ll move onto the closely related issue of class divisions that separate and define us all the more in America. Last night students who’ve been writing about Mamet went to see David Lindsay-Abaire’s GOOD PEOPLE at Arena Stage. We can all see see why it’s one of the most popular and timely plays in the country. We can read their responses below. Congrats to Arena Stage on a widely hailed and wonderful production.
Good People

Relevance Now! RACE, The Supreme Court, and Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton

and this direct follow up from Represenative Norton’s office:

“This play is very profound, essentially because all of the characters are flawed. Twenty years ago, this play would have been perceived in a very different way. Why is it perceived this way today? The more equal you become, the more you will be seen just about like everyone else, even if there is still ingrained racism in this society. We will see the attitude in this extraordinary play reflected in policy makers, reflected in judges, reflected in the population at large. Even today, young people are far more likely to know who is a jerk than people of my age. So get ready for it.”

from Today’s front page of The New York Times

“Voting Law Decision Could Sharply Limit Scrutiny of Rules”

WASHINGTON — If the Supreme Court strikes down or otherwise guts a centerpiece of the Voting Rights Act, there will be far less scrutiny of thousands of decisions each year about redrawing district lines, moving or closing polling places, changing voting hours or imposing voter identification requirements in areas that have a history of disenfranchising minority voters, voting law experts say.

Also Awaiting a Supreme Court Decision:
Fisher v. University of Texas — The Supreme Court is going to decide whether colleges can consider race as one factor in the admissions process.  The Supreme Court is likely to do away with or severely limit affirmative action as we know it, in part because Anthony Kennedy has previously opposed affirmative action.

Read more:

See RACE, running through March 17 at Theater J.

Jimmy Walen and Michael Anthony Williams in RACE

Jimmy Walen and Michael Anthony Williams in RACE

Michael Anthony William, Jimmy Walen, and Leo Erickson in RACE

Michael Anthony William, Jimmy Walen, and Leo Erickson in RACE

Add Your Responses To Those of Our Panel: “To Praise or Pillory: The Case For (or against) David Mamet”

This discussion begins a multi-week discourse about the enduring relevance of the works and words of David Mamet.  On Sunday, February 24 at 4:30 pm, the conversation continues with a panel on Mamet’s Jewish Identity
featuring The Forward‘s Ezra Glinter and Joshua Furst, author and frequent contributer toThe Forward.

The video here records the final panel session from our RACE IN AMERICA: WHERE ARE WE NOW? Symposium Weekend.  Moderators: Ryan Rilette, Artistic Director of Round House Theatre Ari Roth, Artistic Director of Theater J

Featured Panelists:

• Mitchell Hébert, Director of Round House Theatre’s production of Glengarry Glen Ross and 2012 Helen Hayes Award recipient for Outstanding Lead Actor in Theater J’s production of After the Fall

• Joy Zinoman, Director, Founding Artistic Director of Studio Theatre

• Javier Rivera, Assistant Professor Theatre/Music Theatre at American University

• KenYatta Rogers, Director, Educator, and Actor in Glengarry Glen Ross

• Jennifer Nelson, Writer/Director Founding Producing Director of African Continuum Theatre

Mamet Opens at both Theater J and Round House – GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS and RACE Share Reviews!

We’re extraordinarily proud of our production of RACE which has opened and is creating plenty of heat in the theater, while 7 miles up the road, Mamet’s GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS has opened at Round House Theatre–a production I’ve now seen twice this week. Both plays speak volumes about Mamet’s usefulness as a dramatist — and both productions speak beautifully for the extraordinary talent in our community, in all realms: acting, directing and design. These are two superb renderings. Proud to be so closely aligned with Round House on this venture as well, as we share marketing energies (and wall-space, discounts, ad placements), audience, and brain power. In a separate posting, we’ll discuss the upcoming RACE IN AMERICA: WHERE ARE WE NOW? Symposium which will conclude with a consideration of David Mamet at this particular crossroads in his career — a panel I’ll co-moderate with Round House Theatre’s artistic Director Ryan Rillette, and we’ll be joined by the director of RHT’s GLENGARRY, Mitchell Hebert (who, of course, won a 2012 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in Resident Theatre Production for his performance in last season’s AFTER THE FALL) and by actor Kenyatta Rogers of the RHT production of GLENGARRY, joining an estimable panel of other theater biggies including Joy Zinoman (founding artistic director of Studio Theatre, Javier Rivera (Assistant Professor Theatre/Music Theatre at American University), and Jennifer Nelson, writer/director and former producing director, African Continuum Theatre Company).

Reviews for RACE are in and they’re both sizzling and less than that. The omnibus reviews (2 for the price of 1) are disappointing in that so little space (only 350 words in the Post) is accorded to the actual write-up of RACE. But then RACE has never been everyone’s cup of tea. It’s ranged all over the place since it’s 2009-2010 commercially successful run on Broadway. Here’s a run down of the press so far:

4.5 stars out of 5 in DC Metro Theater Arts by Sydney-Chanele Dawkins

3 out of 4 stars in Washingtonian “…controversial case feels more relevant than ever” – by Missy Frederick

‘Race’ and veracity at Theater J – Washington Jewish Week, by Lisa Traiger

‘Race’ and ‘Good People’ Reviewed in Washington City Paper by Bob Mondello

and just out, GLENGARRY and RACE reviewed together by Peter Marks in The Washington Post “Two Mamet plays are on the boil on D.C. stages”

So there’s the round-up. The HUGE Weekend Symposium awaits.

Eager for your responses to both RACE and GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS.

Jimmy Walen and Michael Anthony Williams in RACE

Jimmy Whalen and Michael Anthony Williams in RACE

Alexander Strain and Rick Foucheux in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS at Round House

Alexander Strain and Rick Foucheux in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS at Round House

Michael Anthony William, Jimmy Walen, and Leo Erickson in RACE

Michael Anthony William, Jimmy Whalen, and Leo Erickson in RACE

RACE is launched!

We’ve begun previews for RACE by David Mamet. We’ve had two preview audiences–more young people, more diversity, more explosive laughter–than we seem to have ever had. Will the young and diverse audiences continue as we move out of Pay What You Can previews? We’re now moving in to discount previews for the rest of the weekend. This show needs to stay accessible. That’s why we’ll be promoting our $20 RUSH tix for those who want to wait till the last minute and buy at the box office. We’ve also got our $15 price for 35-and-under (though quantity is limited — still there’s quantity enough). The real point is here: Mamet remains exciting. And in this case, Mamet is speaking credibly to African-American audiences. Mamet is unguarded, bold, full of thoughtful swagger, like he’s always been when at its best. But on the charged subject of Race, in a race-aware town like DC, the effect of Mamet’s plot, language, and character are, is totally liberating. There’s a bracing, freeing quality to the discourse — to the pin-drop tension that’s created and punctuated.

Well, I’m carrying on, rather than simply setting the table for others to chime in. Last night, after preview #2, our actors joined students from UDC and UM, UC, and ND and we have a most intimate and revealing exchange. I’m sure we’ll be reading about the most salient aspects of that talk-back. Looking forward to reading what people thought!

set photo by set designer Misha Kachman

set photo by set designer Misha Kachman