David Mamet

Born on November 30, 1947 in Flossmoor, Illinois, David Mamet studied at Goddard College in Vermont and at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater in New York before venturing into the professional world of the Theatre. He began his career as an actor and director before achieving success in 1976 with three Off-Off Broadway plays, The Duck Variations, Sexual Perversity in Chicago, and American Buffalo.

The most recognized element of Mamet's style is his sparse, clipped dialogue. Although reminiscent of such playwrights as Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett, Mamet's dialogue is so unique that it has become known as "Mametspeak". His language is not so much "naturalistic" as it is a poetic impression of streetwise jargon. Other signature elements of Mamet's style include minimalism and a lack of stage directions.

Noted for his strong male characters, Mamet's plays often deal with the decline of morality in a world which has become an emotional and spiritual wasteland. In 1984, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Glengarry Glen Ross which recreated the atmosphere of a gritty Chicago real estate office in which Levine, an aging salesman, is about to be sacked. He followed up in 1988 with Speed the Plow which exposes the dirty underside of another undustry--show business. Perhaps his most controversial play, however, came in 1992 with Oleanna, a two-character drama involving charges of sexual harassment between a male professor and one of his female students.

In 1981, Mamet turned his attention to screenwriting and made an impressive debut with his first screenplay, The Postman Always Rings Twice, which he adapted from the novel by James Cain. He has since turned out a number of critically acclaimed screenplays including The Verdict (1982), The Untouchables (1987), Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) and Wag the Dog (1998) and is now considered to be among the industry's finest craftsmen.

Mamet has taught at Goddard College, the Yale Drama School and New York University. His awards include the Joseph Jefferson Award, 1974; Obie Award, 1976, 1983; New York Drama Critics Circle Award, 1977, 1984; Outer Circle Award, 1978; Society of West End Theatre Award, 1983; Pulitzer Prize, 1984; Dramatists Guild Hall-Warriner Award, 1984; American Academy Award, 1986; Tony Award, 1987.

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Mamet's Plays

Other Works

Mamet's Films



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David Mamet Trivia

Related Playwrights

Samuel Beckett

Arthur Miller

Harold Pinter

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Anton Chekhov

Henrik Ibsen

Luigi Pirandello

William Shakespeare

Tennessee Williams

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