Oleanna (David Mamet) is by far the hardest script I have ever had to learn, because of the way he has constructed the characters’ dialogue. Having slaved away at the lines and finally been off-book for the last couple of weeks – I have had time to enjoy his words and peculiar phrasing, where he has captured the broken rhythm of conversation and the interrupted trails of thought.
It has been an interesting few weeks wrestling with the script. There are so many ambiguities in the interactions between the two characters and also within their own lines… many a rehearsal has ended with an hour long discussion with the director about why Carol acted the way she did, did John have a hidden agenda etc, and about individual moments in the text.
What can we learn from this exchange, for example:
CAROL: No. I: when I came to this School
JOHN: Yes. Quite (pause)
CAROL: Does that mean nothing?
There are some great moments in the text which could be played in many ways and which would have a domino effect on the upcoming action – all depending on how you play it.
I would recommend that anyone who has read the play through once and found it irritating, frustrating or even strongly disliked it, to pick it up again and give it another chance. Mamet’s writing is so unique and SO clever. No matter what you think of the (frankly unpleasant – in my view) characters it is a play which makes some interesting observations.
(Oleanna in rehearsal)