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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) and Obehi Janice (The Gift Horse), 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!

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 

Johnny Lee Davenport*


Johnny Lee Davenport*


JOHNNY LEE DAVENPORT* performed at New Repertory Theatre in Oleanna, Thurgood, The Whipping Man, and A House with No Walls. Other area credits include The Unbleached American (Stoneham Theatre); It’s A Wonderful Life, A Radio Play (Wheelock Family Theatre); Water by the Spoonful and Broke-ology/Elliot Norton Award, Best Actor (The Lyric Stage Company); Driving Miss Daisy and Master Harold…and the Boys (Gloucester Stage Company); and Invisible Man/Helen Hayes Award, Best Ensemble (Studio Theatre Washington, D.C. and The Huntington Theatre Company). Mr. Davenport has played more than 50 roles in 24 of Shakespeare’s plays including Richard III (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company); Pericles (Actors’ Shakespeare Project); and Richard II (Shakespeare & Company). Film credits include Ted, The Fugitive, U.S. Marshals, and Ascendants. He was named Best Actor in Boston Magazine (2011).

Our hearts are with one of New Rep’s most beloved and talented actors, Johnny Lee Davenport, and his family on the event of his death on February 2, 2020. A master of his craft, ardent advocate for theatre, and a truly fantastic person, he will be sorely missed. Our deepest condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time. Thank you to Johnny Lee Davenport for all that he dedicated to our organization.

Obehi Janice*


Obehi Janice*


OBEHI JANICE* returns to New Repertory Theatre for Oleanna after performing in The Gift Horse and New Rep’s Next Voices New Play Reading Series. Recent credits include Love’s Labour’s Lost (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company); We’re Gonna Die (Company One Theatre/American Repertory Theater); An Octoroon (Company One Theatre/ArtsEmerson); Mr g (Underground Railway Theater); her solo show FUFU & OREOS (IRNE Nomination, Best Solo Performance, Bridge Repertory Theater); Arabian Nights (Central Square Theater); It Felt Empty (Theatre on Fire); and Splendor (Company One Theatre). A graduate of Georgetown University, Obehi was named “Boston’s Best Actress” by The Improper Bostonian in 2014. Her comedic short, Black Girl Yoga, won the Reel 13/AfroPunk Film Competition (WNET/New York Public Media). American Theatre magazine named her one of “6 Theatre Workers You Should Know” in February 2017. She was also the TCG Fox Foundation Resident Actor at Company One Theatre from 2015-2017. Originally from Lowell, Massachusetts, she currently resides in Medford. Upcoming projects include a staged reading of her new play, Ole White Sugah Daddy, at SpeakEasy Stage Company in May 2017.

Creative Team
David Mamet, Playwright
David Mamet


David Mamet was born in Chicago in 1947. He studied at Goddard College in Vermont and at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater in New York. He has taught at Goddard College, the Yale Drama School and New York University and lectures at New York’s Atlantic Theater Company, of which he is a founding member. He is the author of the plays The Cryptogram, Oleanna, Speed-the-Plow, Glengarry Glen Ross, American Buffalo, and Sexual Perversity in Chicago. He has also written screenplays for such films as “House of Games” and the Oscar-nominated “The Verdict,” as well as “The Spanish Prisoner,” “The Winslow Boy,” and “Wag the Dog.” His plays have won the Pulitzer Prize and the Obie Award.

Elaine Vaan Hogue, Director
Elaine Vaan Hogue


Elaine Vaan Hogue (Director) is a director, actor, and teacher. Previous productions at New Repertory Theatre include directing Baltimore, The Amish Project, Imagining Madoff (Elliot Norton nominee for Outstanding Production), The Kite Runner, and co-curating the inaugural Next Rep Black Box Festival in 2014. Regional directing credits include A Disappearing Number (URT @ Central Square Theater); Metamorphosis (Boston Center for American Performance); Walking the Volcano (Boston Center for American Performance/Boston Playwrights’ Theatre); Crave (Nora Theatre Company); Thin Air: Tales from a Revolution (Kansas City); Infinity’s House (Majestic Theatre); Fen (New Theatre); The Penelopiad, Execution of Justice, Lizzie Stranton, The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek, The Other Shore, Angels in America, Three Sisters, Pains of Youth, Polaroid Stories, Marisol, and many others (Boston University). As an actor she has performed in The Road to Mecca (Boston Center for American Performance); Creation: Mythic Weavings (Women on Top & Magdalena USA); When Jennie Goes Marching (Olney Theatre & Spontaneous Celebrations). She is a member of the Magdalena Project, an international network of women in contemporary theatre, and is a participant in an international cyber-performance group collaborating in All the Better To See You With (Odin Teatret), MagFest KISS (Amsterdam), trans-hack-feminist UpStage Jam (Eclectic Tech Carnival). Ms. Vaan Hogue serves as Program Head of Theatre Arts at Boston University. Originally from Los Angeles, she resides in Central Massachusetts.

James F. Rotondo III, Scenic Designer
James F. Rotondo III

Scenic Designer

JAMES F. ROTONDO III (Scenic Designer) returns to New Repertory Theatre after designing Baltimore. Previous design credits include Stomping Grounds and Scalia/Ginsberg (The Glimmerglass Festival); and The Labyrinth of Desire, Emmeline, Daddy Issues, and Vinkensport (Boston University). James also spent this past summer working as the Design Intern at The Glimmerglass Festival. Assistant design credits include The Who & the What (Huntington Theatre Company); Faithful Cheaters (Trinity Repertory Company); and The Totalitarians (Gloucester Stage Company). He earned his BFA in scenic design from Boston University, where he received the Douglas W. Schmidt Award for Excellence in Scene Design. Originally from Rhode Island, he currently resides in Revere. 

AJ Jones, Costume Designer
AJ Jones

Costume Designer

AJ JONES (Costume Designer) makes his New Repertory Theatre debut with Oleanna. Recent productions include Labyrinth of Desire (Boston University) and assistant design for A Christmas Carol (Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera). He is currently a graduate student at Boston University pursuing an MFA in Costume Design. Originally from Indiana, AJ received his BA at the University of Southern Indiana.

Bridget K. Doyle, Lighting Designer
Bridget K. Doyle

Lighting Designer

BRIDGET K. DOYLE (Lighting Designer) has designed Oleanna, IdeationBrecht on Brecht, Thurgood, Good, and Baltimore at New Rep. Previous design credits include The Birds and the Bees (Sleeping Weazel); Don’t Ask Me (Concord Academy); Labyrinth of Desire, Aurora Borealis, Rosmersholm, Rabbit Hole, and Vinkensport (Boston University); Twelfth Night and Metamorphoses (Gordon College); Cabaret and Dog Sees God (Salem State University); and A Behanding in Spokane and Betrothed (Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater). Bridget also designs for the Charles River Ballet Academy, Julia on Tap’s Beantown Tapfest, Brookline Academy of Dance, Onstage Dance Co., and Allstar Entertainment. Assistant design credits include Romeo & Juliet (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company); The Merry Widow and Greek (Boston Lyric Opera); Can You Forgive Her? (Huntington Theatre Company); Saturday Night Fever, Dreamgirls, Les Miserables, and Chicago (North Shore Music Theatre). She earned her Associate’s Degree from Cape Cod Community College, a BFA from Salem State University, and is now pursuing her MFA at Boston University. Upcoming projects include Urinetown (Concord Academy), and interning at the New York City Ballet.

Arshan Gailusº, Sound Designer
Arshan Gailusº

Sound Designer

ARSHAN GAILUS˚  returns to New Repertory Theatre after designing Lungs. He has designed sound and created original music for theater companies including ArtsEmerson, Huntington Theatre Company, Shakespeare & Company, Contemporary American Theater Festival, A.R.T Institute, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Brandeis University, The Nora Theatre Company, Lyric Stage Company, SpeakEasy Stage Company, Gloucester Stage Company, and Company One. Arshan was awarded the 2016 IRNE Award for Best Sound Design (Small Theater) for his design of appropriate (SpeakEasy Stage Company) and was a member of the Elliot Norton Award winning design teams for The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (Company One, 2012) and Twelfth Night (Actors’ Shakespeare Project, 2011). Arshan teaches Sound Design at Emerson College where he serves as Resident Sound Designer for Emerson Stage, and he has designed sound and composed original music for independent video games in the Boston area and internationally.  Arshan holds a B.S. in Music from MIT.

Becca Freifeld*, Stage Manager
Becca Freifeld*

Stage Manager

BECCA FREIFELD*  returns to New Repertory Theatre after serving as Performance Stage Manager on Thurgood, Assistant Stage Manager on Fiddler on the Roof and Good, and Production Assistant on Freud’s Last Session, The Testament of Mary, The Snow Queen, A Number, Broken Glass, Scenes From an Adultery, The King of Second Avenue, and Closer Than Ever. Other area stage management credits include Barbecue (Lyric Stage Company); Shoes On, Shoes Off (Brandeis Department of Theater Arts); Romeo & Juliet and Evil Dead: the Musical (Arts After Hours); Hamlet (Wax Wings Productions); Bully Dance (Argos Productions); and Hamlet (Bay Colony Shakespeare Company). Upcoming: Assistant Stage Manager on New Repertory Theatre’s production of Man of La Mancha. Ms. Freifeld is a graduate of Brandeis University, and currently resides in Newtonville.

* member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States
◊ member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society
º member of United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829


“An engaging and challenging work…This is theater that provokes high emotions and, with any luck, conversations.”

- Boston Theater Examiner

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“Excellent…deftly directed by Elaine Vaan Hogue. Davenport and Janice give two intense, finely tuned performances.”

- TheaterMirror

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“Featuring Johnny Lee Davenport and Obehi Janice, two of Boston’s finest actors, New Rep’s production of Oleanna is a searing enactment …important and timely… it gives you plenty to think about on the ride home and,…

- Broadway World

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“Any appearance by Obehi Janice or Johnny Lee Davenport automatically qualifies as worthy theater; an appearance by these two fine actors on the same stage makes for must-see theater.”

- South Shore Critic

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“At a time when the issues of sexual harassment and assault (including on college campuses) are on the front burner of public attention, Oleanna could hardly be more timely.”

- The Boston Globe

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High Resolution Production Photos: OLEANNA

Press Release: OLEANNA


Wednesday, November 1 at 7:30pm
David Mamet: Playwright and Provocateur
Mainstage Theater | Mosesian Center for the Arts

Featuring WBUR’s Louise Kennedy and Ed Siegel discussing the themes of Oleanna, the complete works of David Mamet, and the playwright’s stance on post-performance conversations.

In accordance with the playwright’s wishes and our contractual obligations, this event is being held on a non-performance night and will be the only opportunity during the run to discuss the play with our panelists.

LOUISE KENNEDY works with WBUR’s The ARTery to broaden and deepen WBUR’s connections with artists, audiences and arts organizations in Boston and beyond. Previously, Louise launched and led Edify, WBUR’s new home for coverage on all media platforms, whether on air, online or in person, about education and learning at all stages of life. Louise joined WBUR in 2012 as director of community engagement, overseeing WBUR’s live events and other direct, local forms of connecting with our audience. Before joining WBUR, Louise was a longtime editor and writer at The Boston Globe, most recently as theater critic. She has also worked at newspapers and magazines around New England. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Louise holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale College. She is the co-author, with Linda K. Rath, Ed.D., of The Between the Lions Book for Parents: Everything You Need to Know to Help Your Child Learn to Read and has taught journalism at Emerson College.

ED SIEGEL is WBUR’s ARTery Editor and Critic-At-Large. Former Boston Globe theater and television critic Siegel began his 35-year career on Morrissey Boulevard in the Globe Sports Department. He has also filled in as living and arts editor. Since leaving the Globe in 2006, Ed has been an associate editor at Berkshire Living magazine; contributed book reviews to Newsday, the New York Times and the Globe.

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.