Glengarry Glen Ross

For the film, see Glengarry Glen Ross (film).
Glengarry Glen Ross

Poster for 1983 National Theatre production
Written by David Mamet
Characters Richard Roma
Shelly Levene
James Lingk
John Williamson
George Aaronow
Dave Moss
Date premiered 1983[1]
Place premiered London, England, United Kingdom
Original language English
Genre Drama
Setting A Chinese restaurant and a sales office

Glengarry Glen Ross is a play by David Mamet that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1984. The play shows parts of two days in the lives of four desperate Chicago real estate agents who are prepared to engage in any number of unethical, illegal acts—from lies and flattery to bribery, threats, intimidation and burglary—to sell undesirable real estate to unwitting prospective buyers. It is based on Mamet's experience having previously worked in a similar office.[2]

The title comes from two real estate properties mentioned in the play: Glengarry Highlands, which is currently the prime real estate everyone is attempting to sell, and Glen Ross Farms, which is mentioned by several characters as having been very lucrative for those selling it several years ago.

The world premiere was at the National Theatre in London on September 21, 1983,[1] where Bill Bryden's production in the Cottesloe Theatre was acclaimed as a triumph of ensemble acting.[3]

The play opened on Broadway on March 25, 1984, and closed on February 17, 1985. The production was directed by Gregory Mosher and starred Joe Mantegna, Mike Nussbaum, Robert Prosky, Lane Smith, James Tolkan, Jack Wallace and J. T. Walsh. The production was nominated for four Tony awards including Best Play, Best Director, and two Best Featured Actor nominations for Robert Prosky and Joe Mantegna, who won the production's one Tony.



Act I

Setting: a Chinese restaurant

Scene 1: Shelly Levene tries to convince office manager John Williamson to give him some of "the Glengarry leads" (names and phone numbers of promising potential clients for expensive properties). Williamson is willing to sell some of the prime leads, but demands cash in advance. Levene cannot come up with the cash and must leave without any good leads to work with.

Scene 2: Dave Moss and George Aaronow hate the pressure management has put on them to succeed. Moss tells Aaronow that they need to strike back by stealing all the Glengarry leads and selling them to another real estate agency. Moss's plan would require Aaronow to break into the office, stage a burglary, and steal all the prime leads. Aaronow wants no part of the plan, but Moss intimidates him, claiming that he is already an accomplice simply by listening to Moss's pitch.

Scene 3: Ricky Roma delivers a monologue to James Lingk. Roma does not bring up the real estate he wants to sell to Lingk until the very end. Instead, Roma preys upon Lingk's insecurities, and his sense that he has never done anything adventurous with his life.

Act II

Setting: a real estate sales office

The burglary is discovered. Williamson has called in a police detective. Shelley Levene is happy, because he has finally sold a large plot of land to a couple named Nyborg. James Lingk enters the office, looking for Ricky Roma. Lingk's wife has ordered him to cancel the sales contract he signed with Roma. Roma attempts to smooth-talk Lingk into not canceling the contract, informing Lingk that his check has not yet been brought to the bank; this begins to have its intended calming effect on Lingk, who is clearly agitated. Levene supports the ruse, but Williamson, thinking Lingk is worried about the safety of his check, accidentally ruins Roma's ploy when he tells Lingk that his check has just been deposited. Lingk abruptly leaves, telling Roma he's sorry for letting him down.

Roma is furious at Williamson, who has blown a big sale. Levene picks up where Roma left off, and begins insulting Williamson. Mid-rant, Levene accidentally reveals his knowledge that Williamson made up the claim about the check being cashed, information he could not have known unless he had been in Williamson's office. Williamson accuses Levene of robbing the office. Levene quickly folds and admits that he and Dave Moss were the thieves. Levene tries to bribe Williamson, offering half of his future sales. Williamson reveals that the Nyborg sale is worthless, as the couple is elderly, mentally ill and just like talking to salesmen because they're so lonely. Levene asks why Williamson wants him turned in, and why he would give him the lead in the first place. Williamson simply states he doesn't like Levene, for the years of verbal abuse, and the old man's flippant nature. Roma comes back from his interrogation and Williamson goes in the back room to speak with the detective. Alone with a devastated Levene, Roma proposes the two men work together. The door opens and the detective demands to speak with Levene, shoving him into the back room.

Roma, unaware of Levene's fate, reveals his true intentions behind the partnership. Roma orders Williamson to not only continue to hand him the best leads, but to add half of Levene's commissions. Williamson tells Roma not to worry about it but Roma won't listen. Aaronow enters the office, desperate to know if they found the perpetrators. Roma says no and heads out to the restaurant.


There was controversy over lines in the play, and in the movie adaptation of it, in which it was claimed prejudice was shown against Indian-Americans.[4][5] As a result, Mamet removed the language from a 2004 San Francisco revival. The controversial dialogue is included in the movie version about a potential lead from the Patels, an Indian family name.[6]


The world premiere of Glengarry Glen Ross was at the Cottesloe Theatre of the Royal National Theatre in London on 21 September 1983, directed by Bill Bryden.

Original 1983 London cast

Glengarry Glen Ross had its U.S. premiere on February 6, 1984, at the Goodman Theatre of the Arts Institute of Chicago before moving to Broadway on March 25, 1984 at the John Golden Theatre and running for 378 shows.

Subsequent 1984 Chicago cast
Subsequent 1984 Broadway cast

On May 1, 2005, a Broadway revival directed by Joe Mantello opened at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. The revival starred Liev Schreiber as Roma, Alan Alda as Levene, Frederick Weller as Williamson, Gordon Clapp as Moss, Jeffrey Tambor as Aaronow, Tom Wopat as Lingk and Jordan Lage as Baylen. The revival received numerous Tony Award nominations, including Best Featured Actor nominations for Schreiber, Clapp and Alda, with Schreiber taking home the prize. The production also won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.[7]

On September 27, 2007, the play was revived at the Apollo Theatre, London, starring Jonathan Pryce (who played client James Lingk in the 1992 film adaptation) as Shelley, alongside Aidan Gillen (Roma), Paul Freeman (George), Matthew Marsh (Dave) and Peter McDonald (Williamson). The production was directed by James Macdonald.

Glengarry Glen Ross has also been produced as a radio play for BBC Radio 3, featuring Hector Elizondo, Stacy Keach, Bruce Davison, and Alfred Molina as Roma, first airing March 20, 2005.

A second Broadway revival, directed by Daniel Sullivan opened on December 8, 2012 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. The production starred Al Pacino (who had played Roma in the 1992 film) as Shelley, Bobby Cannavale as Roma, David Harbour as Williamson, John C. McGinley as Moss, Jeremy Shamos as Lingk, Richard Schiff as Aaronow and Murphy Guyer as Baylen. This version received mixed reviews, with Pacino's portrayal of Levene being criticized.[8]

The character played in the film version by Alec Baldwin was written specifically for the movie and does not appear in the playscript.[9] At least some amateur revivals of the play have added the scene back in; one placed it at the start with Blake directly addressing the audience.[10] (Baldwin's character simply gives his name as 'Fuck You' in the film, although credits refer to him as 'Blake'.)

Film adaptation

The 1992 film adaptation directed by James Foley was released using an expanded script featuring a role specifically written for Alec Baldwin.[2]

Awards and nominations



  1. 1 2 Ferri, Josh (23 October 2012). "Expletives, Awards and Star Power: Why Glengarry Glen Ross Sells as a Modern American Classic". Broadway Buzz. Retrieved 2013-05-24.
  2. 1 2 "Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
  3. Programme note by critic Michael Coveney for the 2007 London revival at the Apollo Theatre
  4. Craig, P. (27 February 2004). "Mamet play to premiere in S.F.". Contra Costa Times. Archived from the original on 2004-07-26. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
  5. Chidanand Rajghatta (20 September 2015). "Patels in US divided over protest against PM Modi". Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  6. Wikiquote:Glengarry Glen Ross (film)
  8. Brantley, Ben (8 Dec 2012). "Fugue for Wrung-Out Tinhorns: Glengarry Glen Ross,' by David Mamet, With Al Pacino". New York Times. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  9. Brietzke, Zander (28 June 2007). American Drama in the Age of Film. University of Alabama Press. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-8173-1571-9.
  10. "Arena Theatre revival". Arena Theatre. Retrieved 3 November 2015.

External links

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