Saturday, 17 May 2014

Highlights of the Adjudication of Gateway Theatre Guild's Glengarry Glen Ross

by Brandon Moore, Communications Coordinator

Notes from the adjudication by Bea Quarrie of Gateway Theatre Guild's production of Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet.  (Spoilers ahead)
  • This play is dedicated to Harold Pinter, reflects the influence on Mamet's work and the language rhythms in the play
    John Hewiit, Rod Carley, Mitch Belanger, Morgan Bedard in
    Gateway Theatre Guild's Glengarry Glen Ross
    Photo by Ed Regan Photography
  • Not a comfortable play to watch, not intended to be comfortable to watch
  • Questions posed to each actor and director:
  • Levene: What is your relationship to daughter? What keeps you from being a complete loser? What kind of parent are you if you use your daughter as a bargaining chip?
  • Williamson: How long have you had the job? What is your life like outside of the office?
  • Moss: What is the source of your rage? Given the actor's age - what does 50 look like for this character?
  • Aaronow: What is the cause of his paralysis? Why did Mamet put you in the play at all? What is he saying about this world?
  • Roma: Is he an Ayn Rand hero?
  • Lingk: Why did you take the bait? Why do you apologize? What did Roma say that was so attractive?
  • Baylen: What did you find in the script that was useful for building the character? What helped you maintain consistency?
  • The cops: What mood do you serve? What objective do you have?
  • Director: What is the significance of the daughter in the show? Where does today's Bay Street / Wall Street fit into our understanding of this world? What impact does the play have today? Was the curtain call ironic?
  • The play is a terrific vehicle: always choose a play that is articulate, otherwise you will be hampered
  • Set: Environment of Chinese restaurant (particularly North American Chinese) was immediately recognizable; Act 2 showed that they had reached the absolute nadir of decrepitude - did it go too far? Did there need to be some vestige of business, some attempt at respectability?
  • Sound: Music suggested Rat Pack world of sexism, racism, cues in between scenes in Act 1 were from Roland website of digital samples demonstrating equipment capabilities; sounded like ad jingles and reinforced "selling, selling, selling"
  • Scenes had constant rain underneath - trying to give an audio sense of location; elevated train would have been too distracting, good urban wind sound couldn't be found, rain suggests "40 days and 40 nights" and November rain - cold and ice is going to come.  Does rain suggest cleansing, rejuvenation?  Effect itself was well-executed: one audience member believed it was raining in Sarnia, passing fire trucks sounded real
  • The curtain call of actors dancing: Director juxtaposed what we have seen, we can leave this world behind now, find some semblance of fun; but dangerous as we have seen actors creating a believable world, and now we see them celebrating: "Aren't we the cock of the walk?" or even worse, is the Director celebrating the people we have seen?
  • Does this play have relevance today? The rise of the 1% makes the play timely, the people in Glengarry Glen Ross are dangerous, this play is a cautionary tale.  This production opened up that conversation.  Not much has changed since 1983 (the techniques have, but the pitch hasn't.)
  • They wanted to use the famous speech from Alec Baldwin from the film, but Mamet doesn't allow it in stage versions.  (Apparently, some community theatres have done it anyway and illegally - BOO!)
  • Danger in this play is playing the major keys of emotion, neglecting the minor keys
  • Anger and rage are easily accessible emotions, but if the play is about nothing but anger, it becomes hard to watch
  • Act 1 can lend itself to static staging: "park and bark" with two characters at a table talking; Levene/Williamson, Roma/Lingk both were enhanced with action, could Aaronow/Moss power struggle have been enhanced with movement?
  • Act 2 becomes a whirlwind of constant turmoil - did it have room to breathe?
  • Brought their original floor of chessboard squares - hard to see in the Imperial Theatre, would they have benefited from being larger?
  • Baylen: Comes from a world of respect as a police detective, but is not respected in this scene; actor is a strong active listener, no-nonsense observer
  • Discussed language warning, impact of racial language (lighting technician was actually named Patel), but must keep as is, must be ready to defend; (ED: For me, it's always about shining a light on this kind of character to make audience think about their own behaviour)
  • Similar warnings around smoking: they used herbal rather than electric cigarettes, which is useful for the smoke swirl
  • Concern about need to soften things for audiences.  Someday will we need a warning: "The relationships in this play will not end happily. Sorry."  Let's hope not.
  • Moss: Rage comes from always being told what to do, plumbing depths of back story. By casting a younger actor, you lose the desperation of an older man who is going down; but you gain something by seeing the grasping need to compete
  • Aaronow: Lacks self-confidence, insecure people can gravitate towards things like sales - and acting. We forgave Aaronow for what he does because of his humanity.
  • Levene: Doesn't see himself as someone who is using his daughter. He is trying to redeem himself for past mistakes. Where do we find the empathy for this character? The choice to have him physically grovelling was strong.
  • Williamson: He is the newbie expecting respect from the veterans - who may have wanted his job. He needs to leave work behind, but they won't let him - Levene shows up at the restaurant when Williamson wants to be alone.  When does he know that Levene is guilty?  He wants him to be guilty, he hopes he is guilty, but he doesn't know it until "How do you know I made it up"
  • Lingk: He is on stage a lot without saying much. He is seeking some control in his life and he regrets hurting someone else's life (Roma).  His empathy makes him his target.  An active listener, waiting for approval.
  • Roma: Back story of influence of immigrant parents, racism, he wasn't going to have that life and made up a new identity for himself and a new image, denying self, he becomes whatever he needs to be for the role, finding Lingk's weakness is his way in
  • Lighting: He didn't want to get in the actors way, self-restraint to cut down 135 cues to be perfunctory and functional; Act Two was a single look, with no colour, except for the final look (highlighting the sales board with Levene's name erased), and the designer even wondered if that was "too arch"
  • Aaronow's line "Oh, God, I hate this job" is one of the spines of the play
  • Thinking about the first line / last line: I'll be in the restaurant, circling back to where the play begins in an endless circle
  • This play IS relevant today
  • Company expressed gratitude for the drive of their first-time producer
  • Fundraising to bring the show to Sarnia: T-shirts are available for purchase. Always be closing.

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