It's a Thursday night in late June and seven men surround a poker table, cussing, drinking and blowing off steam.
It would be typical, even clichéd, were this scene not actually a play rehearsal. The seven are actors, developing their characters in a more dynamic way than by repetitively blocking scenes.
Such are the methods of Glengarry Glen Ross director Lisa Siebert, who's been obsessing over David Mamet's plays since high school. As one of the founding members of the newly formed Springs Ensemble Theatre, Siebert is part of the effort to bring more edgy and challenging plays to town.
And few major playwrights offer material as raw and gritty as does Mamet, whose dialogue is often called "Mamet Speak."
"It's very quick, interrupted, short phrases, lots of heavy profanity and once you get into it, it becomes a rhythm," she says.
Though set in Chicago, Glengarry Glen Ross offers a portrait familiar to virtually all Americans: that of the dog-eat-dog business world. Unlike the well-known film version of the play that came out in 1992 — which Siebert felt tried to elicit sympathy for the desperate real estate salesmen and contrive a happier ending — Siebert sticks with the original 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winning play for SET's staging.
"Our version definitely is a colder, more sardonic version ... our play distances from the salesmen and looks at the big machine they're a part of," she says. "... We kind of tend to screw each other over for our own gain. It's just the way our economy is set up, and this play definitely exploits that."
Provided the current condition of the national economy and the greed-laden origins of its downturn, SET couldn't have picked a more appropriate time to revive such a script.
"It's been over 25 years since this was written, and I think America has gotten even more cynical about business corruption," Siebert says. "It's almost like a given, we expect companies to be corrupt — just look at Toyota and BP."