Glengarry Glen Ross

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For the film, see Glengarry Glen Ross (film).
Glengarry Glen Ross
Written by David Mamet
Characters Richard Roma
Shelly Levene
James Lingk
John Williamson
George Aaronow
Dave Moss
Baylen
Date premiered 1983[1]
Place premiered London
Original language English
Genre Drama
Setting a Chinese restaurant and a sales office
IBDB profile

Glengarry Glen Ross is a play by David Mamet that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1984. The play shows parts of two days in the lives of four desperate Chicago real estate agents who are prepared to engage in any number of unethical, illegal acts—from lies and flattery to bribery, threats, intimidation and burglary—to sell undesirable real estate to unwitting prospective buyers. It is based on Mamet's earlier workings in a similar office. [2]

The world premiere was at the National Theatre in London on September 21, 1983,[1] where Bill Bryden's production in the Cottesloe was acclaimed as a triumph of ensemble acting.[3]

The play opened on Broadway on March 25, 1984 and closed on February 17, 1985. The production was directed by Gregory Mosher and starred Joe Mantegna, Mike Nussbaum, Robert Prosky, Lane Smith, James Tolkan, Jack Wallace and J. T. Walsh. The production was nominated for four Tony awards including Best Play, Best Director, and two Best Featured Actor nominations for Robert Prosky and Joe Mantegna, who won the production's one Tony.

Characters[edit]

Richard "Ricky" Roma
The most successful salesman in the office. Although Roma seems to think of himself as a latter day cowboy and regards his ability to make a sale as a sign of his virility, he admits only to himself that it is all luck. He is ruthless, dishonest and immoral, but succeeds because he has a talent for figuring out a client's weaknesses and crafting a pitch that will exploit those weaknesses.
He is a smooth talker and often speaks in grand, poetic soliloquies.
Shelly "The Machine" Levene
An older, once-successful salesman, who has fallen on hard times and has not closed a big deal in a long time. In Mamet's original 1983 stage version, Levene mentions his daughter as a final ploy to gain Williamson's sympathy in order to get better leads. However, in the 1992 film version, Levene's discussion of his daughter also includes comments and a phone call to her doctor about her poor health in order to gain additional sympathy from Williamson, though this fails due to Levene's flippant nature and their longstanding animosity.
James Lingk 
A timid, middle-aged man who becomes Roma's latest client. Lingk is easily manipulated and finds Roma highly charismatic. Upon consulting his wife, he becomes desperate to regain the money that Roma has closed on him.
John Williamson
The stoic office manager and main antagonist. The salesmen despise Williamson and look down on him, but need him desperately because he's the one who hands out the sales leads. He finds himself especially despised by Levene for the unpromising leads he gives out on a regular basis.
George Aaronow
An aging salesman with low self-esteem who lacks confidence and hope, but not without conscience. His frustration begins to boil up when the office is robbed, and he worries about being convicted based upon Detective Baylen's interrogation. Ironically, he and Roma end up the remaining two salesmen for the firm after Shelley is found out, and gives up Moss as his co-conspirator.
Dave Moss
A big-mouthed salesman with big dreams and schemes. Moss resents Williamson, Mitch and Murray for putting such pressure on him and plans to strike back at them by stealing all their best sales leads and selling them to a competitor. Moss sees Aaronow as a potential accomplice, but eventually convinces Levene to work with him in selling the leads to Jerry Graff, a local competitor. During his final rant against Roma, his indignation reveals that his jealousy extends towards even his fellow salesmen, and he decides to go to Wisconsin to avoid further questioning.
Baylen
A police detective. He appears in the final act to investigate the office break-in and interrogate each cast member behind closed doors.
Mitch and Murray
These unseen characters are the owners of the real estate agency. They have set up a sales "contest" that has put enormous pressure on the salesmen to produce or to lose their jobs, in which only the top two will come out with prizes.

Synopsis[edit]

Act I[edit]

Setting: a Chinese restaurant

Scene 1: Shelly Levene tries to convince office manager John Williamson to give him some of "the Glengarry leads" (names and phone numbers of promising potential clients for expensive properties). Williamson is willing to sell some of the prime leads, but demands cash in advance. Levene cannot come up with the cash and must leave without any good leads to work with.

Scene 2: Dave Moss and George Aaronow hate the pressure management has put on them to succeed. Moss tells Aaronow that they need to strike back by stealing all the Glengarry leads and selling them to another real estate agency. Moss's plan would require Aaronow to break into the office, stage a burglary, and steal all the prime leads. Aaronow wants no part of the plan, but Moss intimidates him, claiming that he is already an accomplice simply by listening to Moss's pitch.

Scene 3: Ricky Roma delivers a monologue to James Lingk. Roma does not bring up the real estate he wants to sell to Lingk until the very end. Instead, Roma preys upon Lingk's insecurities, and his sense that he has never done anything adventurous with his life.

Act II[edit]

Setting: a real estate sales office

The burglary is discovered. Williamson has called in a police detective. Shelley Levene is happy, because he has finally sold a large plot of land to a couple named Nyborg. James Lingk enters the office, looking for Ricky Roma. Lingk's wife has ordered him to cancel the sales contract he signed with Roma. Roma attempts to trick Lingk into not cancelling the contract; Levene supports the ruse, but Williamson accidentally ruins Roma's ploy when he informs Lingk that his check has just been cashed.

Roma is furious at Williamson, who has blown a big sale. Levene picks up where Roma left off, and begins insulting Williamson. Mid-rant, Levene accidentally reveals his knowledge that Williamson made up the claim about the check being cashed, information he could not have known unless he had been in Williamson's office. Williamson angrily accuses Levene of robbing the office. Levene quickly folds, and admits that he and Dave Moss were the thieves. Levene tries to bribe Williamson, offering half of his future sales. Williamson reveals that the Nyborg sale is worthless—the couple is elderly, mentally-ill and just like talking to salesmen because they're so lonely. Levene asks why Williamson wants him turned in, and why he would give him the lead in the first place. Williamson simply states he doesn't like Levene, for the years of verbal abuse, and the old man's flippant nature. Roma comes back from his interrogation and Williamson goes in the back room to speak with the detective. Alone with a devastated Levene, Roma proposes the two men work together. The door opens and the detective demands to speak with Levene, shoving him into the back room.

Roma, unaware of Levene's fate, reveals his true intentions behind the partnership. Roma orders Williamson to not only continue to hand him the best leads, but to add half of Levene's commissions. Williamson tells Roma not to worry about it but Roma won't listen. Aaronow enters the office, desperate to know if they found the perpetrators. Roma says no and heads out to the restaurant.

Controversy[edit]

There was controversy over lines in the play, and in the movie adaptation of it, in which it was claimed prejudice was shown against people from India.[4] As a result, Mamet removed the language from the latest Broadway revival. The controversial dialogue is included in the movie version about a potential lead from the Patels, a family from India.[5]

Productions[edit]

The world premiere of Glengarry Glen Ross was at the Cottesloe Theatre of the Royal National Theatre in London on 21 September 1983, directed by Bill Bryden.

Original 1983 London Cast

Glengarry Glen Ross had its U.S. premiere on February 6, 1984, at the Goodman Theatre of the Arts Institute of Chicago before moving to Broadway on March 25, 1984 at the John Golden Theatre and running for 378 shows.

Subsequent 1984 Chicago Cast
  • [] - Shelley Levene
  • [] - John Williamson
  • [] - Dave Moss
  • [] - George Aaronow
  • [] – Richard Roma
  • [] – James Lingk
  • [] – Baylen
Subsequent 1984 Broadway Cast

On May 1, 2005, a Broadway revival directed by Joe Mantello opened at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. The revival starred Liev Schreiber as Roma, Alan Alda as Levene, Frederick Weller as Williamson, Gordon Clapp as Moss, Jeffrey Tambor as Aaronow, Tom Wopat as Lingk, and Jordan Lage as Baylen. The revival received numerous Tony Award nominations, including Best Featured Actor nominations for Schreiber, Clapp, and Alda, with Schreiber taking home the prize. The production also won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.[6]

On September 27, 2007, the play was revived at the Apollo Theatre, London, starring Jonathan Pryce (who played client James Lingk in the 1992 film adaptation) as Shelley, alongside Aidan Gillen (Roma), Paul Freeman (George), Matthew Marsh (Dave), and Peter McDonald (Williamson). The production was directed by James Macdonald.

Glengarry Glen Ross has also been produced as a radio play for BBC Radio 3, featuring Hector Elizondo, Stacy Keach, Bruce Davison, and Alfred Molina as Roma, first airing March 20, 2005.

A second Broadway revival, directed by Daniel Sullivan opened on December 8, 2012 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. The production starred Al Pacino, Bobby Cannavale, David Harbour, John C. McGinley, Jeremy Shamos, Richard Schiff, and Murphy Guyer.

It should be noted that the character played in the film version by Alec Baldwin was written specifically for the movie and does not appear in the play. This has led to some confusion among theatregoers in recent years, who mistakenly—if understandably—believe that scene has been cut out.

Film adaptation[edit]

Poster for the 1992 film.

The 1992 film adaptation directed by James Foley was released using an expanded script featuring a role specifically written for Alec Baldwin.[2]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awards
Nominations
  • 1984 Drama Desk Award Outstanding New Play
  • 1984 Tony Award for Best Play

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Josh Ferri, "Expletives, Awards and Star Power: Why Glengarry Glen Ross Sells as a Modern American Classic | Broadway Buzz", Broadway.com, 23 October 2012. Retrieved 2013-05-24.
  2. ^ a b "Gleng arry Glen Ross (1992) -". The Internete. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  3. ^ Programme note by critic Michael Coveney for the 2007 London revival at the Apollo Theatre
  4. ^ Craig, P. (27 February 2004). "Mamet play to premiere in S.F.". Contra Costa Times. Archived from the original on 2004-07-26. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  5. ^ Wikiquotes (26 December 2007). "Glengarry Glen Ross (film)". Wikiquote. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  6. ^ http://www.theatredatabase.com/20th_century/glengarry_glen_ross.html

External links[edit]