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Arts & Entertainment

Lies & Truth (Cont'd)

David Mamet

Lesson time 11:48 min

David continues talking about the truth in two of his most controversial works: <span style="font-style:italic">Oleanna</span> and <span style="font-style:italic">Race</span>.

David Mamet
Teaches Dramatic Writing
The Pulitzer Prize winner teaches you everything he's learned across 26 video lessons on dramatic writing.
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Well, Oleanna was a play I wrote about 25 years ago and I was always fascinated by a piece in Hamlet where Hamlet hires these strolling players, and he says to his sidekick Horatio, he says, I want you to stage a play. Something like the Murder of Gonzago, where this wife kills the husband, and marries the uncle, much like my mother, and so forth. And he says, I've heard the guilty creatures sitting at a play made by the cunning of the set of scene be so moved as to confess their own malefaction. And I think, well, that's cute, but it's certainly not true. You can't get somebody, however guilty, or however upset at a play to start confessing their own malefactions. OK, Shakespeare. You wrote a lot of good stuff. We'll give you a pass. So then I write this play called Oleanna, which was about at the beginning of this whole nonsense about political correctness, and incipient fascism, and the end of free speech, and all that other good stuff. And I'd put it off Broadway. We did it first in Cambridge, Mass, and then we were off Broadway. And it's about this young woman student, and her professor, and she's all confused, and she doesn't know why she got such a bad grade. And he says OK, let me help you. Let me devote myself to you, blah, blah, blah. I'll talk you through the thing. You know what, the grade doesn't count. I'll just give you an A. She says, but I don't understand. I don't understand. I'm the first of my family ever came to college. So I don't understand how this works and I work like mad to get here. You can just assign me a grade? He says, yes, that's right. He says education's nonsense. He says, we give you a lot of books, and we say read them. You say you've read them. I say you're lying. We're going to give you a test. We're going to find out you lied and when we find out you lied, you'll be disgraced, and your life will be ruined. He says, that's the educational process. She says, but then I'm really confused. She says, why are you involved in it? And he says, because I love teaching. She says, no. I'm lost. I'm really, really lost. Things begin to escalate and he says listen, you got stuff stuck into your head early on about what the educational process-- he says I'll give an example. He says, when I was a kid, I heard that poor people make love more frequently than rich people, but they take less of their clothes off. He says, is that true? She says I don't know. He says, does the person who said it, do they know if it's true? I don't know. It's stuck in my head. Why? I don't know, but there it is. He says, I don't have time to go through and rip out all this stuff, but it's operating against me. It's clogging up my head. You have a prejudice about education, which should be xyz. That got stuck in that-- so they go on, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. She gets radicalized because the pres...

Write great drama

David Mamet sat in on a poker game full of thieves and left with the inspiration for American Buffalo. Now, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of Glengarry Glen Ross takes you through his process for turning life’s strangest moments into dramatic art. In his writing class, he’ll teach you the rules of drama, the nuances of dialogue, and the skills to develop your own voice and create your masterpiece.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

This was a truly inspirational and informative class. It was extremely entertaining as well. I give it my highest recommendation.

This masterclass was up and down for me. It didn't hold my attention as raptly as some of the other ones. But the things he had to say about story writing were still worth the watch.

I really came to enjoy the uniqueness of David Mamet through this course. I had a difficult time getting acclimated to his style at first, but by the end I was convinced he is a genius.

I learned I need to approach my work in a more clinical and critical sense, and to trust my instincts. If a scene or dialogue isn't going to work... take it out.


Tolga C.

Now he opens his wisdom box. This two lessons about lies and truths are very interesting, would have fittet to Bruno Bettelheim I guess in one of the first lessons, because he says, that there is a psychological truth (example with the cricket and the ant)... Mamet calls it preverbal... Bruno Bettelheim goes further and says, that children are like philosophers, because they ask the questions of life, but from their animistic point of view. 5 stars from my side.

Nick F.

What kind of a moron would punch an actor for having just played a part? Cop: Did you not know that this was a play, and thus make believe? Puncher: Well, yes. Cop: And did you not know that hitting someone in the face is assault with intent to do bodily harm? Puncher: Well, I didn't know the technical term for it. But, yes. Cop: Uh huh, well, that makes you kind of an idiot, doesn't it? Puncher: Well, I guess. But... Cop: Shut up. You have the right, although you shouldn't, to remain silent.

Myriam B.

The thing about education and radicalisation was a little bit of a tangent but so insightful. And still relevant to the whole concept of truth and lies and of drama exploring those shady areas where conscious social thought struggles to find black-and-white truths.

Ella E.

Ahhhh, now I remember why I never really connected with Mamet. He has a habit of writing stories about women lying about rape.


I’ve been pretty riveted up until this lesson. This definitely could have been cut for brevity’s sake.


I think it is interesting that section is two parts. Its the way he writes.

Doha I.

Found this chapter a bit rambling and stream-of-consciousness...Otherwise i'm LOVING Mr Mamet's Masterclass.


If a a writer is creating a dramatic story based on historical truth. The writer first must do active research to be correct. The audience knows the history of the given setting and will call the writer on it.


Davids instructor style isn't as informative as I like. I feel like we are just hearing him offload whatever information he knows about a random topic.

Allen K.

David Mamet has true grit. The entire class has made it clear to me why screen/play writing will never be more than a curiosity or at best a hobby to me. But that's O.K. ... Mr. Mamet's discussions are so interesting that I unexpectedly binged through the whole class. Many insights to creativity, actors and what he described as "prophecy". I like to call it "extemporaneous grace". I liken it in my experience, to those musicians with an innate inner compass to spontaneously and ingeniously jam to jazz and blues.