Originally debuting in London’s Cottlesloe Theatre in 1983 before moving to Broadway a year later (where it would be twice revived in subsequent decades), David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prizewinning play Glengarry Glen Ross now finds its way to Hamilton’s own Pearl Company, where it will run for the first two weekends of December.
The play, based on Mamet’s own experiences working in a real estate office, follows four Chicago real estate agents looking to sell undesirable property by any and all means necessary.
“It’s about people who, driven by the necessities of life, are prepared to ditch their morals and their ethics,” explains director David Nash, “not only towards the people that they persuade to buy dodgy land in Florida, but towards their bosses and colleagues.”
Nash, a veteran director of over a dozen plays with the Oakville Players, plus two previous Pearl Company presentations (Death and The Maiden, and A Number) also makes note of the play’s somewhat notorious language as part of its appeal, giving it a “real life feel”.
“The language is coarse, the way many people speak when courtesy is at home with its boots off. It’s also written in the way that people really do talk, not as if they were taking part in a moderated debate, politely waiting for the other person to finish, with their words well–regulated and spoken with precision. The characters speak in half–sentences, interrupting themselves and others, rapid–fire words and utterances, the sort of ill–considered utterances that get politicians into trouble.”
In spite of these challenges posed, Nash is confident that his actors — which includes, among others, Rod McTaggart and Joel Pettigrew, both recently seen at the Hamilton Fringe in Pettigrew’s Mercury Man: The Last Performance of Orson Welles — are more than up to it.
“I am very fortunate in having such a talented cast of actors with whom I have been able to work collaboratively, my favourite method of directing.”
Though the Pearl Company — which Nash loves for its “small, intimate space” — is hosting and co–producing, the play is being presented by Nortesur Artistic Productions, a Hamilton–based company with several productions to its name, including Harold Pinter’s Betrayal (Hamilton Fringe 2012), Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden (Hamilton Fringe 2013), and John Logan’s Red at the Pearl, the latter two of which were remounted twice.
“The mandate of Nortesur is to perform thought–provoking plays that stimulate the mind and ask its audience to think,” says Mischa Aravena, the company’s producer who also serves in Glengarry’s cast. “To do shows that challenge and aren’t necessarily for everyone.”
This mandate extends into the casting of Glengarry Glen Ross, as the notably all–male cast of characters includes one female actor, Kayla Gambrill, taking on the role of the office manager. Aravena explains: “The thinking with this production is, in a world of men, what happens when, at the heart of it all, the person calling the shots is a woman. How does it change the world in which these men operate.”
Aravena even adds one potential answer right off, given that the character in question is already disrespected by the other men in the office: “The sexism and humour comes out even more.”
“I hope audiences will go away talking, debating, and arguing about the show,” Nash tells me, reinforcing with his answer Nortesur’s artistic intent. “Who was the real ‘villain’, who had a good excuse for what they did, how do people reconcile their consciences for doing things for which other people would despise themselves?”
Still, even with the hopes of inspiring critical thought, Nash has the same hopes for his show as many theatre artists do:
“I hope they enjoy it — after all, it won many awards, including the Pulitzer, so Mamet must have gotten something right — I hope we have too.”V
Written by: David Mamet
Directed by: David Nash
Playing at: The Pearl Company
Showtimes: December 5, 6, 7, 12, 13 @ 8pm; December 7, 14 @ 2pm
Box Office: 905-524-0606, or
online at thepearlcompany.ca