Thursday, July 29, 2010

"The Conversion Of David Mamet" on Commentary Magazine

There's an interesting article in Commentary Magazine on David Mamet, playwright, screenwriter and director of blockbusters like, GLENGARRY GLENN ROSS, SPEED THE PLOW, THE VERDICT, WAG THE DOG and a slew of others. He's one of the few who has had as celebrated a career on the stage as on the big screen. So when he first came out as an 'anti-liberal' I, along with most everyone else in the entertainment industry, was shocked to say the least. For my part, quite pleasantly. Of course, he wasn't always that way, as he explained in that 2008 article in the Village Voice entitled- David Mamet: Why I Am No Longer A 'Brain-Dead Liberal- an election-season essay'.

The article in Commentary Magazine by Terry Teachout, talks about a new book of essays that Mamet published (and yes, he's still not a liberal)called "Theatre", which apparently marries his new worldview with the world of theatre.

Although Theatre is not so much a political treatise as a professional apologia, it seems likely that those of his colleagues who write about it (to date, most have ignored it completely) will focus on its political aspect, in which they will doubtless find much to outrage them. Indeed, he offers a working definition of theater that is bound to fill the vast majority of his colleagues with horror:

The theatre is a magnificent example of the workings of that particular bulwark of democracy, the free-market economy. It is the most democratic of arts, for if the play does not appeal in its immediate presentation to the imagination or understanding of a sufficient constituency, it is replaced. ... It is the province not of ideologues (whether in the pay of the state and called commissars, or tax subsidized through the university system and called intellectuals) but of show folk trying to make a living.

Conversely, Mamet dismisses state subsidy for the theatrical arts as no more than a means of propping up incompetent “champions of right thinking” whose work would otherwise be incapable of attracting an audience. Such playwrights, he says, are purveyors of politically correct “pseudodramas” that “begin with a conclusion (capitalism, America, men, and so on, are bad) and award the audience for applauding its agreement.” For Mamet, such plays are the opposite of true theater, whose power lies not in its willingness to coddle our preconceptions but its unparalleled ability to shock us into seeing the world as it really is. “In the great drama,” he writes, “we follow a supposedly understood first principle to its astounding and unexpected conclusion. We are pleased to find ourselves able to revise our understanding.”

Read the rest of "The Conversion Of David Mamet" on Commentary Magazine. It's worth the few minutes to see into the mind of an ex-liberal, entertainment industry maverick.

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