Thursday, August 25, 2011
My Life at the Theater, Oleanna
WARNING: This is a tough final scene and it does not always end like this.
I saw this David Mamet play at the Library Theater Company in Manchester, England in 1995. At that time I felt the conflict over sexual harassment was interesting and it was a well done production starring Melanie Hudson and Robert Jezek. It concerns accusations of improper behavior between a professor and a student. It was a nerve-wracking play to watch with a particularly difficult second act. It is said Mamet wrote it in response to the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings.
I have seen it again in a local production and as a movie. The ending of this play and audience response to it has changed over the years. Who comes out on top and what we think of it has changed, in other words.
It has become clear that Mamet never intended this to be a fair-minded look at sexual harassment. At the time, we knew less about him and his views.
I wouldn't see it again.