American Buffalo, the David Mamet penned classic, arrives in Galway for three nights this month.
The play has been described as “gripping drama” by The New York Times and as having “a dramatic intensity” by the New York Post.
When it first debuted in Chicago in 1975 and on Broadway in 1977, it made a huge impression, explains Mark Rhea from Keegan Theatre, the US-based company bringing the play to Ireland.
“It definitely made a huge splash both in Chicago when it opened there, and on behalf of the Chicago theatre scene when it moved to New York. Theatre people, artists, audiences, and funders, perked up and started paying more attention to Chicago and the work that was coming out of there,” he says of the play that won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best American Play in 1977.
The drama tells the story of three men “of great ambition and low morals” who plan the heist of a valuable coin collection. When it all goes awry, it’s every man for himself. The play is fast paced and the results are oftentimes hilarious and sometimes tragic.
The work by Mamet, recognised as one of the America’s greatest playwrights, is widely seen as a modern masterpiece. Known for his unique style, Mamet’s other acclaimed works include Glengarry Glen Ross, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award, and Wag the Dog and The Verdict, for which he received Academy Award nominations.
“Mamet has a way of getting to the core of what it means to be human. While we look at these low-life guys and think ‘they’re nothing like me’ … something about his writing still brings it home, still reels you in, and you find yourself drawing connections between these men and the rest of humanity,” says Mark.
“On top of that, he mines the humour, the complexities, and the nuanced relationships are there when we watch these small-time criminals and their inept planning. It’s both deeply funny and deeply sad and just very, very human in that magical way Mamet has captured. And of course his dialogue cuts right to the quick: of a scene, a moment, a character. Words erupt in this show; it’s mesmerising to read and hear.”
Over the past 20-plus years, Mark has steered The Keegan Theatre’s growth from producing out of a small church basement to ownership of the Andrew Keegan Theatre in historic Dupont Circle in Washington DC.
Since its founding in 1996, the Keegan Theatre has garnered 50 Helen Hayes Nominations, three Theatre Lobby Mary Goldwater Awards and the Star Award for Managerial Excellence. Mark has directed dozens of productions for Keegan Theatre since its founding. Highlights include co-directing Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with his wife Susan, the show being the company’s inaugural production in the newly renovated Andrew Keegan Theatre.
The Keegan Theatre have a special connection with Galway, having toured here 15 times in the past. “In fact, Galway is where my wife Susan and I got married in 2003!” says Mark. Susan is the Artistic Director at Keegan Theatre.
They had their reception in Galway the night before they opened ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.’ “We love this city and have many dear friends who live here. I think the most rewarding part of the annual tour is seeing those with whom we’ve grown so close over the years of travelling here. First-timers on the tour do all the usual Ireland sightseeing; those of us who are veterans mostly spend time with our Irish friends, who we consider family.”
American Buffalo runs for three nights from Wednesday 16 September to Friday 18 September at the Town Hall Theatre. All shows begin at 8pm. See www.tht.ie for more details or call the box office on 091-569777 for tickets. Tickets: €20 / €18.