david mamet

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THIS EPIGRAPH IS LIFTED from Harry Elam’s article “’Only in America’: Contemporary American Theater and the Power of Performance”, where many issues arisen as to what extent theater is a site where the American identity can be deconstructed and to what extent is a possible site to call into question the given assumptions and go beyond the mainstream. I start with this quote in my attempt to approach Mamet as a playwright that questions the sureties of the norm and society, and calls for a critical evaluation of the basic assumptions of American society through his plays. In the 1970s there were events that decisively contributed to a new configuration of the United States as a whole. America was coming into terms with the cultural and political aftermath of Richard Nixon presidency, the Watergate scandal, and the war in Vietnam. Besides this, America was undergoing the effects of free-market economy governed by capitalism which contributed to the shape of the nation: a bigger division between social classes and an increasing number of the dispossessed and powerless. In this sense, the American dream had been corrupted because success was demanded but it was not available to all the layers of the society. My particular stress on the decay of the American dream and capitalism are significant for the purposes of this paper, since David Mamet’s plays that will be analysed came into being a reflection of the American society and many of the concerns they show are a direct result of the socio-political and economic atmosphere of the time. It is to such a stage that we should approach Mamet’s plays, and against this background, the plays want to show in what way the American dream has failed. Therefore, he tries to convey his personal vi... ... middle of paper ... ...deals with not what has been said but with what has not been revealed through words, that is, Mamet’s dialogue emphasizes not only what is spoken in dialogue, but what remains unspoken. It is within this minimalist approach and his economy of efficient consumption and efficient articulation produce its reminder: the unspoken. One of the most powerful and moving example of this can be found in the play Edmond: “EDMOND: […] it’s more comfortable to accept a law than question it and live your life. All of us. All of us. We’ve bred the life out of ourselves. And we live in a fog. We live in a dream. Our life is a schoolhouse, and we’re dead. […] EDMOND: I’ve lived in a fog for thirty-four year. Most of the life I have to live. It’s gone. It’s gone. I wasted it. Because I didn’t know. And you know what the answer is? To live. (Pause)” (Edmond: 67; original emphasis).

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