The Playgoer: Mamet's "Breakdown"?

Custom Search

Friday, November 04, 2011

Mamet's "Breakdown"?

"What I think that has happened to Mr. Mamet is that he is an artist and a contrarian, and I think that somehow, living under the shade of the Southern California palm tree engendered a kind of contempt in him for himself. And a decompensation occurred, which resulted in his putting on the suit of The Conservative. He’s always despised hypocrisy, and I think he’s in a kind of war with the hypocrisy within his community and within himself. Look, it’s not unlike when Bob Dylan became a born-again Christian. It’s the trajectory of someone searching for truth. The fact that his ideas at the moment are riddled with contempt and that he’s in bed with people who would quite happily see him dead is just another iteration of believing that you have answers when there aren’t any, really. I’m not really interested in David as an ideologue. I’m interested in his poetry as a playwright and his sense of humor. That’s the real Mamet to me. The real Mamet is an actor who became a writer and had a real sense of the criminal and the sleight of hand in American life. I think that sometimes writers feel sort of small, and he’s always suffered from a preponderance of testosterone. And I think being a liberal or a progressive can make a particular kind of Chicago guy, which David is, feel kind of small. So I think that he’s just in the middle of a breakdown."

-Jon Robin Baitz, asked about fellow playwright David Mamet's political, um, reawakening?

He goes on to call him "possessed by the devil," too--but you should probably check the context of that.

The Devil's next play--about a Weathermen-esque unrepentant 60s radical--does indeed to seem to promise more of the same. And yet, would I pay to see Patti LuPone and Laurie Metcalf go at each other in Mamet-speak? Fuckin'-Ruthie yeah!


Ken said...

Baitz nails the source of Mamet's newfound conservative fervor. He is a man who (if you read interviews going back to the beginning of his career) wants always to appear sure, without doubt. He continually doubles down and stick to his guns through all sorts of ridiculous comments. Given that natural tendency, his unapologetic reveling in masculinity and testosterone, and the inevitable aging process (as the things you once counted on and loved fade away or are torn down by the march of time), it is not a great surprise that Mamet's thought processes have calcified into an example of reactionary fossilization.

Anonymous said...

Never liked his old stuff, his new even less--for the reasons Baitz identifies. A distorted brand of American masculinity at its worst. Hell no, I won't go!

Jay said...

Mamet has evidently discovered that conservatism is better suited than liberalism for the striking of macho poses.