Arts & Entertainment, Writing

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>.

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

Topics include: The Truth in <span style="font-style:italic">Oleanna</span> • The Truth in <span style="font-style:italic">Race</span>


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...

About the Instructor

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.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

David Mamet

The Pulitzer Prize winner teaches you everything he's learned across 26 video lessons on dramatic writing.

Explore the Class
Sign Up