University of Vermont

Commencement Speaker

Commencement 2004 Speaker


Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and two-time Oscar nominee, director, essayist, novelist and poet David Mamet (writer/director) has been a force in American theater since 1976, when his first staged plays immediately won Obie and New York Drama Critics Circle Awards.

Spartan is his ninth film as writer-director. His critically acclaimed debut feature, House of Games, was selected to close the New York Film Festival in 1987. He followed this with his gentle Mafia fable Things Change, co-written with Shel Silverstein, for which Joe Montegna and Don Ameche shared Best Actor honors at the 1988 Venice Film Festival; Homicide, which opened the 1991 Cannes Film Festival; Oleanna in 1994, the sole film he has adapted and directed from one of his plays; The Spanish Prisoner, his acclaimed Hitchcockian thriller, which became one of the most popular independent films of 1998; The Winslow Boy, an adaptation of the famed Terrence Rattigan play starring Nigel Hawthorne, Jeremy Northam and Rebecca Pidgeon; and most recently, State and Main, starring William H. Macy, Alec Baldwin, Sarah Jessica Parker, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Rebecca Pidgeon. Mamet has also won acclaim for numerous screenplays, including The Verdict for Sidney Lumet and Wag the Dog for Barry Levinson, which were both nominated for Academy Awards for Best Screenplay.

His other screenplays include The Postman Always Rings Twice for Bob Rafelson; The Untouchables for Brian DePalma; We’re No Angels, with Robert DeNiro and Sean Penn for Neil Jordan; Hoffa, directed by Danny DeVito and starring Jack Nicholson in the title role; and The Edge, with Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin.

The writer first won recognition with his plays, Sexual Perversity in Chicago and American Buffalo (later filmed with Dustin Hoffman and Dennis Franz). When both plays opened in New York in 1976, Mamet won the Obie Award for distinguished play writing and American Buffalo was voted Best Play by the New York Drama Critics Circle. In 1978, he received the Outer Critics Circle Award for his contribution to American theater.

In 1984, Mamet won another Best Play award from the New York Drama Critics Circle as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Glengarry Glen Ross. The play also received four Tony Awards and was made into a major motion picture in 1992. His other plays include Edmond and The Cryptogram, both Obie Award winners, as well as The Water Engine, A Life in the Theatre, Lakeboat, Speed-the-Plow,The Old Neighborhood, Boston Marriage and Dr. Faustus.

In related work, he has adapted four works by Chekhov: Vint, The Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters and Uncle Vanya. He has written children’s plays and books, seven volumes of essays and three novels, numerous magazine articles, and collaborated on many songs with his wife, songwriter and actress Rebecca Pidgeon.

Mamet also acted in the TV adaptation of his play, The Water Engine, and played a gambler in Bob Rafelson’s movie Black Widow. He taught acting at his alma mater, Goddard College , as well as at the University of Chicago , Yale School of Drama and New York University ’s Tisch School of the Arts, where, with William H. Macy, he established a repertory company in 1988, the Atlantic Theater Company. He recently directed Harold Pinter, Rebecca Pidgeon and John Gielgud in Catastrophe, an installment of The Beckett Project, wherein 19 Beckett plays were produced as a collective for British television.

Mamet and Fogel to Keynote 200th Commencement (by Lynda Majarian, The View from the University of Vermont, March 3 - March 9, 2004)

Mamet to Speak at Commencement (by: President Daniel Fogel, Vermont Cynic 3/2/2004)

Last modified August 12 2004 11:59 AM

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