The past two weeks of preview performances of “American Buffalo” have been played to 93% and 88% capacity, according to the Broadway League. (Through a rep, production manager Neil Pepe and producer Jeffrey Richards declined to comment.)
Mamet kissed the Trump presidency; he said The Guardian earlier this year that Trump had done a “great job” as president and suggested his defeat in 2020 was “questionable.” In “Recessional,” he writes that Trump “speaks American, and those of us who also love the language are impressed and thrilled to hear it from an elected official.”
“One of the reasons my friendship with David has survived all these years,” said comedian Jonathan Katz, “is that we never discuss politics.”
Much earlier, Mamet appeared to challenge the liberal perspective he felt surrounded him in the theater world with his 1992 play “Oleanna.” Describing a disputed allegation of sexual harassment that a student makes against a professor, it has been interpreted as an interrogation of political correctness. For Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis, “Oleanna” – which Eustis saw in his original run at the Orpheum Theater in the East Village with longtime Mamet collaborator William H. Macy and Rebecca Pidgeon, wife of Mamet – was proof of a change.
Mamet’s early plays, said Eustis, are “extremely morally ambiguous and complex”. With “Oleanna,” argued Eustis, who has never worked with Mamet, “he actually started to put his finger on the scales.”
But Leslie Kane, an emeritus English professor at Westfield State University who has written several scholarly books about Mamet and said she grew close to him and his family, saw a dividing line between longtime obsessions date of Mamet as an artist and some of his later political positions. . “His concern is language and the ability to use language,” she said, adding, “I think that’s what he believes: in our current environment, speech restrictions require that members of society pay attention to what they say.
But Mamet, who has made freedom of speech a central issue lately, is not a fan of post-show discussions of his own works featuring members of productions. In 2017, he made headlines by stipulating that none of the talks, known as talkbacks, could take place within two hours of his plays being performed, calling for a $25,000 fine for each offense. In his new book, he says talkbacks “turn a night at the theater into an English class.”