David Mamet Additional Biography


Born on the South Side of Chicago on November 30, 1947, David Alan Mamet became interested in the theater as a teenager. He worked at the Hull House Theatre and at Second City, one of Chicago’s richest improvisational performance sites at the time, experiences that he recognized as having exerted an important influence on his language, characterizations, and plot structures. His mother, Lenore Silver, was a schoolteacher, his father, Bernard Mamet, a labor lawyer and minor semanticist, and though the parents’ intellectual awareness of language plainly influenced their son, their divorce seems to have affected the young Mamet even more greatly. Exiled to what Mamet saw as a sterile suburb of Chicago—Olympia Fields—his geographical move seemed all the more complicated because of his familial dislocations. His stepfather apparently (Mamet revealed in a 1992 essay entitled “The Rake”) physically and psychologically abused the Mamet family, and it seems as if the world of the theater offered the playwright some form of reprieve and, later, recognition from a tension-filled youth. As a boy, Mamet also acted on television, an opportunity made possible by his uncle, who was the director of broadcasting for the Chicago Board of Rabbis. Mamet often was cast as a Jewish boy plagued by religious self-doubt and concerns.

After graduating from Francis Parker, a private school in downtown Chicago, Mamet attended Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont, where he majored in theater and literature. At Goddard, he wrote his first play, Camel, which fulfilled his thesis requirement for graduation and was staged at the college in 1968. During his junior year (1968-1969), Mamet moved from Plainfield to New York City, where he studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse with Sanford Meisner, one of the founding members of the Group Theatre in the 1930’s. While his...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The entrance of David Alan Mamet (MAM-eht) into American theater marked a new generation of dramatic output from what might be called the postmodernists. He was born to Lenore Silver, a teacher, and Bernard Mamet, a lawyer, and was reared in Chicago’s predominantly Jewish South Side. After undergraduate work at Goddard College, Vermont, where he studied literature and ventured into playwriting with a comical revue, Camel, Mamet studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse and worked as house manager for Harvey Schmidt’s The Fantasticks (pr. 1960) Off-Broadway. Several odd jobs later (including high-pressure telephone solicitation for worthless Florida swampland, the subject of Glengarry Glen Ross), Mamet returned to his hometown of Chicago in 1972 with several short plays in hand, including Duck Variations, which was produced by The Body Politic. Receiving the Joseph Jefferson Award for the best new Chicago play of 1974 for Sexual Perversity in Chicago encouraged Mamet to join with three young friends to re-form the St. Nicholas Theater Company, later called the St. Nicholas Players. There, Mamet added the missing ingredient, a live audience, for his unorthodox and uncommercial plays; by 1975, several of his works had found their way to the Off-Off-Broadway St. Clements Theatre and the Off-Broadway Cherry Lane Theatre. The success of American Buffalo, which was voted the best American play of the 1976-1977 season by the New York Drama Critics Circle, brought him national coverage, and as a result of the publicity, Sexual Perversity in Chicago was made into the successful film About Last Night . . . (1986).

Once Mamet’s reputation spread past its Chicago origins with Sexual Perversity in Chicago and American Buffalo, his work became more innovative with each play. A Life in the Theater is different in locale from his other plays and features the metalinguistic, self-examining device of a play within a play, but its critical reception was mixed. His Pulitzer Prize-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross, first produced in London in 1983, continues his attack on...

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David Mamet was born in Chicago, Illinois, on November 30, 1947. His father was a labor lawyer and his mother a schoolteacher. After his...

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David Mamet was born on November 30, 1947, in Chicago, Illinois. He is the son of Bernard Mamet, a labor lawyer, and his wife, Leonore....

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David Alan Mamet was born November 30, 1947. His parents were of Polish-Russian descent, and Mamet grew up in a Jewish neighborhood on the...

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David Mamet Published by Gale Cengage

David Mamet was born on November 30, 1947, in Chicago, Illinois, to Bernard Mamet, a labor lawyer, and his wife, Leonore. As a child,...

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When asked by interviewer John Lahr to describe his youth in the New Yorker, Mamet remarked, "My childhood, like many people's, was...

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