Seven men will battle in a sales contest with their careers at stake in Bentley Theater this weekend. Directed by Max Gottschall ’15, “Glengarry Glen Ross,” written by David Mamet, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy of real estate salesmen, each armed with motivations and burdened by high stakes, struggling to sell people something they don’t want.
“I’ve been waiting for a play like this to come to Dartmouth for a very long time,” said Ben Edlin ’14, who plays Ricky Roma. “When I saw it I jumped at the opportunity. It was kind of a no-brainer.”
Edlin is one of seven students who will perform in this ensemble piece, where no lead actor controls the play.
“The entire thing only works as a well-oiled machine,” Gottschall said. “If one cog falls out of place then the whole machine falls apart. That’s why I think it’s sort of a special production for this department because truly every single person involved in it has an enormous impact on the final product.”
Glengarry Glen Ross is especially difficult to put on because of its technical structure. Characters routinely cut each other off and even interrupt themselves; the rhythm of the play is so exact in its replication of human speech that the actors must know their lines fluidly. Some in the theater department even believed performing “Glengarry Glen Ross” was too ambitious.
“What does every single ellipsis, every single comma, all caps, italics represent?” said Max Samuels ’15, who plays Shelly Levene. “All these different things David Mamet has created for us and we have to memorize it all.”
Gottschall chose to direct a Mamet play for the challenge of overcoming technical hurdles, and said he believes that every actor should have the opportunity to be cast in one of Mamet’s difficult and distinctive plays before they perform professionally.
“Glengarry Glen Ross” stood out because of its interesting characters and its parallels to today’s world.
“It’s about these men who take immense pride in this thing that they do, which is to sell real estate,” Gottschall said. “Because of that they’re willing to compromise everything else in pursuit of continuing that dream of making the big sale.”
Gottshall’s directing advisor, Jamie Horton, pointed out a connection between the brotherhood in Ross and the culture within fraternities; they both have distinct languages and bonds that are foreign to others yet keep the men involve closely knit.
“Reading it, I couldn’t help but smile and now watching it, I’m really swept away,” Gottschall said.
This bond bleeds into the cast, which has become a closeknit group just as the characters are in the play. Many shows tend to transform actors into their characters, where the actors “get the clicks” of their characters in their interactions with other members of the cast, Gottschall said.
“I think there’s going to be a really profound and really interesting realism in the way that this is played,” Gottschall said. “And on top of that it’s really funny.”
Edlin stressed that while the label “genius” is thrown around liberally, “Glengarry Glen Ross” “truly is a masterpiece of dramatic writing.”
“Mamet will do this thing where he’ll write six ‘alrights’ in a row,” Gottschall said. “If it were five ‘alrights’ it wouldn’t sound right to your ear. If it were seven it wouldn’t sound right, but six is the perfect number.”
Gottschall stressed that while he has the final say in the play’s production, most, if not all of the brilliant ideas originate and come to form from the work of his team. The play’s team is comprised of almost all students, many who are friends outside of the production. Samuels said that they have worked on separating their friendships from the job at hand.