by David Mamet
directed by Elaine Vaan Hogue
mainstage theater
OCT 14-NOV 5/2017

It’s all about power in David Mamet’s groundbreaking drama about political correctness and perception. When John, a professor, tries to help his student Carol, is it a misunderstanding or inherent misogyny that causes trouble? Featuring Johnny Lee Davenport (The Whipping Man, Thurgood), Oleanna crackles with the fiery dialogue of Mamet at his finest.

Note: In accordance with the playwright’s wishes and our contractual obligations, we will not be hosting post-performance talkbacks for this production. Check back here soon for opportunities to engage with us, including our open First Rehearsal, Sneak Peek, and our fall session of Page to Stage.

Subscribe to 2017-2018 today! Single tickets go on sale August 1.

Ideation   |   Oleanna   |   Man of La Mancha   |   The Bakelite Masterpiece    |    Two Jews Walk into a War…

Unveiled   |   Statements after an Arrest under the Immorality Act    |   Lonely Planet   |   Ripe Frenzy 

Behind the Title

A colony and a folksong

What is “Oleanna” and why did Mamet choose the word for the title of his play?

The story begins with Ole Bull, a Norwegian violin virtuoso who founded a colony in Pennsylvania in 1852. He envisioned the settlement as a utopia and named one of its four towns “Oleanna,” combining his own first name and his wife, Anna’s.

As his settlement ran into financial difficulties and ultimately failed, Ole Bull’s critics in Norway penned a mocking ballad, also titled “Oleanna,” which was later popularized by folk singer Pete Seeger:

“In Oleanna land is free,
The wheat and corn just plant themselves,
Then grow a good four feet a day,
While on your bed you rest yourself.”

Meet the Playwright

David Mamet

 David Mamet is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and director from Chicago. His play Glengarry Glen Ross was awarded the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Oleanna marks the fifth Mamet play to be produced at New Rep, following American Buffalo(1996), Speed-the-Plow (2009),Boston Marriage (2010), and Race (2012).
As a writer, he is known for his fierce rhetoric which balances harsh language with beauty and humor. In an interview with The Paris Review, Mamet shared: “I always had compositions in my dreams. Sometimes after waking up I would remember a snatch or two and write them down. There’s something in me that just wants to create dialogue.”
Outside theatre, Mamet is well known for his screenplays, which include The Verdict (for which he received an Academy Award nomination), The Untouchables, Hannibal, Spanish Prisoner,Redbelt, and Phil Spector.