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Can Broadway Take a Risk on Famous Playwrights?

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By Craig Hubert | David Mamet currently has two plays on Broadway, literally a few doors down from one another on 45th street – “The Anarchist,” a claustrophobic “meditation on crime and punishment,” starring Patti Lupone and Debra Winger, and the Al Pacino-led revival of “Glengarry Glen Ross” – that have sparked debates concerning superstar playwrights and rushing their work to the big stage before it’s ready. According to a report in the New York Times, “The Anarchist,” written and directed by Mamet, opened last week to scathing reviews and frighteningly low ticket sales and is now being pulled from the stage by the show’s producers. The quick cancellation stunned members of the cast and crew, some of whom are placing blame on the producers for their hasty decision to end the show, while others are claiming Mamet couldn’t distance himself properly from his own material.

Mamet, one of the most produced playwrights in America, hasn’t had a hit show to match his early efforts in some time. How long will producers stay loyal to playwrights because of their prior successes? How many flops in a row will it take before producers stop taking a risk on new work by Mamet? “Glengarry,” with Pacino in the lead role, is already a hit before its official opening, with the theater charging patrons $377 a ticket. If “Glengarry” is a huge financial success, will producers take a chance and produce another new play by Mamet, even if they know it will lose money? Or will they just keep dipping back into a playwright’s back catalog, reviving old shows every few years?

Image: David Mamet/Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

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  1. Jeffrey says:

    $377 a ticket. Just goes to prove how many suckers there are out there. Just go buy the damn DVD for $12 and enjoy it without some idiot coughing all the time. You can always wear a nice outfit to make it seem special while you watch this incredibly boring film. There’s only 5 minutes of the whole thing that are interesting, and every salesperson knows what I’m talking about.

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