Arts & Entertainment, Writing

Life of a Dramatist

David Mamet

Lesson time 7:06 min

The life of a dramatist is fraught with uncertainty, but dedication and passion towards your craft can lead you beyond consciousness.

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Topics include: Uncertainty • Dedication • Beginning Your Career


It's like, again, as Polonius says to Ophelia, "Love? His affections do not that way tend." And so I wanted to say something to all you guys listening about that is that a lot of people are drawn into movie making and drawn into the theater because of one thing they want to do. It might be being a director of photography, it might be being an actor. It might be being an AD. It might be-- and you might find there's something else that you want to be. And maybe you're not so good at that, but you're very good at something else. And that's where all of the writers used to come from and still did in my day. They came from guys who got in as an actor. Shakespeare was an actor. And they said wait a second, let me try this other thing. And we know this works when we put on the office party. So we put on the office party and Sally says, we're going to have an office party here, we're going to put on a skit about the mailroom. And one person says, ooh, good, good, I got a great idea for costumes. And one person says, ooh can I write it. And the other guy says, oh, I'm going to play Bertha. This is such a cliche of American life, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney saying, we'll put it on in the garage. But that's all the theater is, it's a bunch of people saying, we'll put it on the garage, my uncle's got a top hat, ooh, ooh, can I sing a song. You're not going to find that in school, you're not going to find that in any school. But you're going to find that in the garage. Got a job at Ford designing automobiles, well, what's that person going to get a job doing? They say, good, you're going to work on the taillight, so you're going work on the taillight for 10 years. And maybe you work on the back bumper and blah, blah, blah. It's very seldom that you're going to actually get a job designing a whole car. On the other hand, there were these things in Los Angeles, mainly in Los Angeles-- may still be called chop shops which are not the chop shops of today where they took stolen cars --but where kids would get together and they'd create a new car, out of nothing. Where do they create the hot rod buggies, they create it. And the people from Detroit started coming to these chop shops and say, wow, that's what we should be doing. So these kids were making the cars right there that Detroit was beating a path to their door and saying, we want to make that. We want to make that car. So it's the same in the theater, rather than going to all of these schools and blahbity, blahbity, blah, make your own car. Put on your own play in the garage and maybe the world will beat a path to your door. And if it doesn't, you head for it anyway. It's a schizophrenia profession, being a dramatist. Because you have to be several people, and yourself, and the audience, and you have to like doing it even when you're miserable. I was shooting a movie for HBO, the Phil Spector story with Helen ...

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.

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David Mamet

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

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