I have given myself permission to stop attempting to like David Mamet’s plays.
The moment of release from my career-long attempt to understand why people thought he was so fantastic came after a local production of Boston Marriage. I had complained for years that in addition to most of his characters being jerks, he didn’t write women at all. And when he did, he did so poorly. Nothing about that play changed my mind about his ability to write women characters in a way that resonated as true. So I just stopped going to see his plays. It was actually quite a relief.
Mr. Mamet may or may not be a misogynist. His writing suggests to me that he doesn’t much like women, but I’ve never met the man. I ought not to judge.
I do not, however, deny that he is a skilled writer with valuable insights about theater and structuring a story. Which is why, though I’ve sworn off his plays, I picked up our copy of True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor yesterday and started flipping through it. One of the first pages I landed on contained this bit of wisdom:
Do not internalize the industrial model. You are not one of the myriad of interchangeable pieces, but a unique human being, and if you’ve got something to say, say it, and think well of yourself while you’re learning to say it better.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I’m meant to be of service in this world. Whether I’d do better inside an organization, contributing to their mission, instead of stumbling along on my own. I still don’t know the answer. But Mr. Mamet’s advice will sit with me as I continue to listen for what the universe has in store for me.
How does this quote resonate for you? What are you learning to say?
I'm interested in what keeps us engaged in our work, the world, and each other.